So much excitement. We finally got the time off to go do the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River over the July 4th weekend! I immediately started making a to do list! I had just bought a ton of Mountain House meals so I was ready for the adventure!
Friday night we had a late dinner at the Loft with all the friends and then headed out. It was after 11pm when we started up the road towards White Wolf. Not two minutes onto the road we start hearing a pack of coyotes going absolutely crazy!
Now, I haven’t done a multi-day backpacking trip. Ever. (Clouds Rest was one night so I don’t count that.) I was already nervous and we were still on the paved road! I was really hoping I was going to be braver than that. But Cam broke a couple walking sticks off of a fallen tree and I felt better having a weapon. As soon as we hit White Wolf we took the trail to the right and were heading straight for the coyotes.
“HEY BEAR!” We started yelling and blowing whistles to scare them away from us. We had to do this continuously for about 15 minutes before they finally stopped howling and seemingly dispersed.
After that we had no more issues during the night. We picked a good spot to stop after we hiked for 3 hours and laid out our sleeping bags. I was so afraid of waking up to a bear sniffing my face that any branch snap or anything going thunk in the night made me freak out and wake up. I don’t think I got more than a couple hours of sleep that night.
Waking up Saturday morning and seeing that our camp was clearly not disturbed by bear or squirrel comforted me a lot. Not to mention that it was July 2nd! 1.5 years of being together! It was a nice coincidence that our trip fell on this weekend.
We started down to Pate Valley. It was really steep and I’m glad we were going down it and not coming up it! We could see the valley below us get closer and closer as the miles ticked by. Finally we got to Pate Valley. It was so green, lush, and quiet. We found a nice spot by the river and ate some lunch.
After lunch we decided to keep going until we hit Register Creek. We had about 8 hours of sunlight left so we figured we could hike 4 more miles and still have time to relax.
We got to a point after hiking about 3 miles that had camping spots near the river. This was a point that the River turns and comes down a slab, so we thought it was the creek (we found out we were soooo wrong the next day). We set up camp and started a little fire in the fire ring.
The second day of the hike was hard to say the least. Waking up and eating some oatmeal and drinking some instant coffee helped us feel more alive but my legs were so stiff and my hips were raw. There was nothing to do about it other than just sucking it up and putting the pack back on.
We started up and quickly realized we weren't at Register Creek. That lowered moral a little. We realized we were at least a mile and a half behind the point that we wanted to be. We kept going through the sun and exposure and stopped only a few times to rest and refill water.
We finally crossed Register Creek. It was thigh deep on me and it felt amazing!
Most of this day was uphill. From a sign that we saw when we're leaving Pate Valley, I had thought Waterwheel Falls was only 11 miles away. But the longer and longer we hike the more we realized that we were probably wrong. We thought we got to the top of Waterwheel after many many switchbacks in the sun (buuuuuuut yet again we were wrong). We stopped and ate lunch at (fake) Waterwheel Falls. Once we started up again, Cam was a head of me and stopped to wait for me to say he had some bad news... He pointed up to the next waterfall up top of the ridge and said "THAT is Waterwheel." 😩
I won't lie my heart dropped. As beautiful as the views have been, walking in the sun was taking its toll on me. I was at the point where I had to just move into autopilot and let me feet just put themselves one in front of the other. I couldn't manage to have another thought.
We kept going and it was waterfall after waterfall. The beauty was outweighing the exhaustion at that point and I was still able to appreciate where we were.
We got to the top of the canyon and it flattened out until we reached a couple miles before Glen Aulin. At this point Cam was far enough ahead of me that I felt like I was hiking alone. It was magical. There was a lush forest around me with a lot of green high grass and singing birds. There were butterflies everywhere and it was so peaceful. I was able to think about a lot of different things that had been buzzing in my mind for the past month. My mind was so busy racing without a chance to process everything. I finally had the peace and alone time I needed to think. I hadn't realized how much I needed it. I had more problems in my brain than I had expected. It was great to get to sort everything out.
The biggest thing I took away from this hike I need to spend more time in nature. Living in Yosemite, you'd think you'd be in nature constantly. But I find myself going from home to work to the store hardly looking up at the granite walls surrounding me. They've become normal. But being out in the backcountry that is mostly untouched by human hands is amazing. I felt like I was guest, not like I was the one that should be there. It is a very humbling feeling.
We spent our last night at Glen Aulin and it was incredible. I woke up during the night laying on my back and the first thing my eyes adjust to see is the Milky Way. It was the best I've ever seen it. So many stars. It was incredible. I felt like a little caterpillar in my sleeping bag experiencing the world for the first time.
We had a lazy oatmeal breakfast on that last morning and made our way back to Lembert Dome where my car was waiting to take us to the Grill for breakfast sandwiches.
I was reading Fahrenheit 451 in the evenings of the nights we spent hiking. I finally finished it the morning we woke up in Glen Aulin. I'll leave you here with the quote that stuck out to me the most.
'I hate a Roman named Status Quo!' he said to me. 'Stuff your eyes with wonder,' he said. 'Live as if you'd drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It's more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. Ask no guarantees, ask for no security, there never was such an animal. And if there were, it would be related to the great sloth which hangs upside down in a tree all day every day, sleeping its life away. To hell with that!" he said. "Shake that tree and knock the great sloth down on his ass!"
My name is Brenna. I'm documenting my life in Yosemite National Park and beyond! I aspire to live a healthy life while exploring outdoors and challenging my comfort zones!