This past weekend Josh and I had planned to go backpacking in Yosemite. It is rare that we actually plan a backpacking trip. Generally, we pick a place and go with little planning. In the past, this lack of planning has caused us to hike ridiculous routes in which the elevation increased 4000 feet in two miles, not brought ample food and forgotten essential equipment. For these reasons, we decided to plan, and plan we did. We had the perfect route, a checklist of food and equipment, and even planned out what we would have for each meal. Last Thursday morning we left smokey Sonoma, and headed to what we thought would be beautiful Yosemite. Given the fires throughout California we did check Yosemite's website, and they did not mention fires or smokey conditions as of Thursday morning.
The trip there was awful. Google directions brought us through small towns where you prayed to God that your car wouldn't break down. We missed a turn, got lost, but continued to stay positive given our destination. As we got closer to Yosemite and the smoke was still everywhere in sight I began to get a little nervous. Finally, we arrived near our trail head in Yosemite.
This is what Yosemite looked like last Thursday. We chatted with a park ranger who told us that there was fire about a mile from where we were going to begin our hike. "The trails are still open, but the air quality is not too good." No kidding. We turned around and started driving away. Josh and I were both quiet and disappointed. Finally, we pulled it together and tried to come up with another plan. We had everything in the car we needed to go backpacking, therefore, we must go somewhere. After some brainstorming we came up with Tahoe since that is where Kam (Josh's sister) works or Lassen.
Once we were in cell phone range we got through to Kamren. She told us Tahoe was fine. Twenty minutes later she called us back to report it was a little smokey. We had her look up the conditions at Lassen, and their website immediately said, "smokey conditions," and advised against strenuous hikes. How helpful. We didn't have to drive all the way to Lassen to discover the smoke ourselves. Despite some smoke, we drove to Tahoe. After nine hours of driving, we reached Mountain Camp, where Kam works. It was smokey. Not as bad as Yosemite, but not ideal.
One of Kam's coworkers helped us plan out a new route. We were set. We had a map, a plan, and all of our supplies. We drove to a trail head about 10 miles from Mt. Camp, and set off into Desolation Wilderness. We were ready.
This is us looking ready. We hiked about four miles towards Lake Sylvia. The hike was a nice gradual climb to a beautiful lake surrounded by granite walls. We stopped at the lake for awhile and enjoyed the peacefulness and serenity of it for about five minutes. Then we continued on. We then went off the trail as instructed by Kam's friend, and followed the creek up to a second small lake that was a steep 1200-1400 feet climb. It was beautiful, and we thought about setting up our tent there, but it was still mid-afternoon, and we thought we could make it over the peak that was ahead of us, and down to Aloha Lake, which was on the other side of the peak. We rested for a bit before we set off to climb the peak. And then, we climbed. It reminded me a lot of Half Dome, but without the cables to hold on to.
After many near falls, and what seemed like hours, me made it to the top of the peak. It was incredible, and at the same time disheartening. We essentially climbed up to a cliff, with no way down.
It was absolutely beautiful; however, we could find no way down to the lake. Even if we found a more gradual way down, the mountain was covered in snow. After realizing that there was no way down, we made the difficult descent back down to Sylvia Lake.
We set up our tent here, and relaxed for the rest of the evening. Our second attempt at a backpacking trip was again, not what we expected. We decided not to press our luck anymore, and Saturday morning hiked out, and drove back to Kamren's camp. Despite the many changes in our plan, we still had a great time. I'm sure we will get to do our original plan in Yosemite soon, probably less prepared than we were this time, but we will get there.