Day 2 – July 5, 2014
Odometer Reading: 16.90 miles
Miles today: 11.76
Camped: in Long Meadow
Today’s Key to Success: Trekking umbrellas
“No vomiting,” Aidan said, “You need those calories.” He petted my head. It was 1:30 am.
It had to be the heat.
I barely slept, so Aidan was in the same boat. I fidgeted and fussed all night. I couldn’t get comfortable. Please, Morning, hurry up and get here.
Aidan got up at 5:40 to someone hollering across the river. Good thing – my watch was apparently set at PM instead of AM, so the alarm wasn’t going to go off on its own.
There was a mysterious bruise between my big and second toe. Aidan was organizing breakfast into neat piles on the plates. I pried my toes apart and pointed my foot at him. “What do you think that’s from?” Aidan kept making breakfast. I grabbed my Injinji toe socks and started to put them on. Wait. Right foot and right foot. I grabbed my other pair of socks. Right foot and left foot. “I have three right feet. I know a song about that.” Aidan kept making breakfast. How did I end up with three right feet? Sherlock! That must be his way of letting me know he misses me.
We ate our cold breakfast, packed up, and we were at the river getting water by 7am. We felt hung over from the heat. I took off my socks again and put my feet in the water. “I despise my water storage container,” Aidan pulled stuff out of his pack to make room for his water. I laughed. What a great sentence.
We crossed the bridge over Nevada Falls and I took a photo looking over the edge. A sign nearby read ‘If you go over the waterfall, you will die’. Very matter of fact. No capital letters, no drama. You will die, and that’s that.
The mosquitoes were opportunistic and lazy. They’d bite, but only if you walked into them. Almost defensively, almost reflexively. We didn’t take it personally.
I felt a rivulet of sweat cruise down the small of my back and pool at the waistband of my shorts. The fabric sucked it in.
A day-hiking couple leap-frogged us. They were setting out to climb the cables of Half Dome. “It sounds scary, but it’s not that big of a deal when you get there, right?” The man clearly wanted us to convince his wife that this was an excellent plan. The rumors were all hype.
Aidan was blunt, “I’m not gonna lie. It’s one of the scariest things you’ll ever do.”
“It’s absolutely terrifying,” I wasn’t helping, “but you’ll be proud of yourself for the rest of your life that you did it.”
“It’s nothing you can’t handle.” We kept walking. After a while, we stopped seeing them.
We turned away from the trail to Half Dome and took a right on the JMT. We high-fived. That should be the end of tourists until we got back to Tuolumne Meadows. We took some final photos of Half Dome, tiny dots of brave people in a vertical line, clinging to the cables for dear life.
The trail was lined with rhododendrons, the smell rich and vibrant. A rustling ahead caught my eye. I stopped and watched a huge rattlesnake slowly work his way off the trail. He was sluggish. A giant bulge in his middle was the tomb of a giant squirrel. Or maybe three chipmunks.
“He’s ENORMOUS,” I whispered, “He’s like, four feet long.” I thought of my friend Shannin, who adores snakes, and how happy she’d be to see this guy. I’m not big on snakes. Not my favorite.
“No, he’s probably only three and a half feet.” My literal husband.
We wandered alone past breathtaking panoramic views. The air perfumed by cedar trees baking in the sun. We put up our trekking umbrellas. and attached them to our packs so we could hike hands-free. It was cooler under there.
We stopped for lunch. “This sooo falls into the category of ‘would never eat this at home’. It’s like 7-11 chili cheese.” It was delicious. I got some water from the creek and treated it with Aqua-Mira drops. I put my Bluetooth keyboard on the bear canister and settled in to blog.
“Something’s wrong with the keyboard. It keeps typing the letter ‘k’ for no reason.” Aidan fiddled with the keyboard.
“Try it now,” he said.
I typed ‘I love you’. The text read ‘I love kkk’. I hate this keyboard. I tried again.
‘Does it work now?’ The text read, ‘Dokkkke@@ itkkkkk wokkkrkkk nokk@@@@w?’ Are you kidding me? This is the first time I used this stupid keyboard! Equipment fail. I stared at it, sad. Put it away.
We hiked further uphill over Sunrise Mountain into a sub-alpine forest with little crookedy trees and a carpet of creeping snowberry. I figured out how to write notes and walk at the same time, my trekking poles dangling behind me. Aidan said it was dangerous. Like texting and driving, but not illegal. Said I was asking for trouble.
We wandered back down through a Lodgepole Pine forest which opened into a beautiful meadow. There was our intended camp.
“WOOOOO-HOOOOO YEAAAAH BABY! OWWWWWWWOOOOOOOO!!!” The voices shattered the evening silence of the little valley, bouncing from one hilltop to another.
A camp with little cabins on the hillside was populated with young people who were brought in on horseback to stay for a few days. Horses can carry a lot of gear with them, and from the sound of it, a lot of booze too.
We made a bee-line through that meadow and on to the next before camping. We found a small flat spot of complete gravel where we could set up camp. Leave No Trace. No Meadow Mushing.
We rinsed our clothes in the creek and were asleep before the sunset, well, set.