Day 3 – July 6, 2014
Odometer Reading: 29.4 miles
Miles today: 12.5
Camped: Lyell Canyon – elevation 8,886
Today’s Key to Success: Catching the Last Shuttle
We slept so, so well. It was a cold and perfect night with no wind.
I wore my down booties, and was grateful for all the Facebook peer pressure that made me bring them in the first place. I also wore my down jacket, my down hat, my long johns, my compression sleeves, my long-sleeved shirt, and a tank top. Not necessarily in that order. The temperature was perfect.
The alarm didn’t go off again. The watch alarm, apparently, doesn’t work at all. Equipment failure number 2. We figure we’ll just set our internal alarm clocks and trust that we’ll wake up around 5 or 5:30.
I dipped my Q-tip into my coffee, sucked on it, and stuck it in my ear. Warm and wonderful.
“That’s…very…clever, dear. I wouldn’t have thought to do that.” Aidan loves me.
I strapped my wet clothes to my pack and chuckled to myself that I could dry my laundry and charge my solar charger at once. I felt clever.
“You’re gonna find your way to heaven is a rough and rocky road If you don’t stop and smell the roses along the way…” I hummed to myself.
I’d flown in passenger planes over this area and taken photos out the window. I always thought it was beautiful, even from way up there. From the ground, though, this place is just unbelievable. Spectacular views splayed out all over the place. Beauty spray-painted on horizon after horizon. This place couldn’t be real.
Tiny, happy blue butterflies danced around our feet as we walked.
This is where good souls go when they die.
Aidan had convinced me to bring my rain gear along instead of leaving it in the truck. “It’s only one pound and it’s totally worth it. You’ll be miserable for days if you’re wrong and it rains.” Okay, so I did. This morning Aidan looked at the sky. “Looks like rain.” I dismissed his assessment with something non-committal like “Mm-hmmm” as I looked at the innocent little white poofs overhead.
We decided we needed to clean up a bit, and there happened to be a lovely little lake near the trail. We scampered away from the trail and found ourselves a private rocky outcrop next to the water. We rinsed our clothes, ate some lunch, and hopped in the water for a skinny-dip.
We heard voices coming closer. “What should we do?” I whispered to my husband, ducking down in the water.
“Just turn your back to those people and pretend like you don’t see them – they’ll go away. Nobody likes being around naked people.” I did as he said and stood with my back turned. The voices abruptly stopped and I heard them bushwhacking the other way. It worked! I donned my husband with an imaginary medal of brilliance.
The wind suddenly blew cold and my skin puckered into goose bumps. After glancing around, I jumped out of the water and did a dance to warm up. My fluffy white cloud friends had turned an angry steel gray. I put on some dry clothes and my trusty rain jacket, for good measure. My husband received his second imaginary medal of brilliance.
We tromped along ahead of the storm, past a little kid holding a trekking pole like a spear, ready to protect his family at the first sign of danger. We had a great pace going. We were a train. Aidan – The Engine. Me – The Caboose. We were the Mastadon-looking mechanical animal things from Star Wars. We were four-legged beasts, capable of anything. We were unstoppable. Our hiking styles so similar in speed and pace, that’s why we’re in love. Overcoming obstacles together is team building. Hiking is overcoming obstacles with every step all day. Hiking is team building. We were a team. We were…I dropped my notebook and had to stop to pick it up. Lost my train of thought. I didn’t have a good place to put the notebook.
“I don’t have a good place to put this.” I waved the notebook around.
“Here,” Aidan stuffed it in my bra between my breasts and hung the pen from my shirt. “Third pocket.”
We continued on. True to the guidebook, Cathedral Pass did not reveal where its top was. At some point we just realized we were going down instead of up.
My compression sleeves left a thick, raised, nasty red welt around the top of each of my calves last night. I was allergic to the latex. The welts had no intention of calming down any time soon. I dabbed some hydro-cortisone cream on the welts. I pulled my notebook from my third pocket and made a note to ditch the compression sleeves in the truck when we got there.
We got to the end of the trail in Tuolumne Meadows and used a port-o-potty while we waited for the bus to take us to the store. A few women chatted us up about our trip while we waited. We’d agreed to refrain from talking about work at all while on this journey, so we cleverly navigated the terrain when one repeatedly asked us questions dangerously close to the topic.
“What do you do for work that you were able to get so much time off?”
“We saved our vacation for a long time.”
“Oh, well what do you do? I mean, what kind of job is okay with you leaving for three weeks?”
“Ours, thankfully.” We laughed.
She quit asking after a while. Success.
We got frosties and fries at the store. Aidan got a burger too. I didn’t want to sit on the curb. It was dirty. We waited for a table. Scooped food into our mouths. Met a guy sitting on the curb. He didn’t seem to mind the curb. He told us about his journeys on the JMT and the PCT. He said his website was highsierratopix.com . Topics with an ‘x’, he said, about four times. With an ‘x’. I told him I’d look it up. I never did.
We went to the truck and spent a grand total of 15 minutes swapping out gear and organizing our resupply from the public bear boxes nearby. We weren’t technically supposed to leave our resupply there, but since you could leave food there for a few days, and we only needed to leave the resupply for a few days…well, some rules are okay to stretch in my book. Whatever, whatever, you know?
We sat down at the bus stop, just off the main road. The bus slowed down, and then sped away without stopping for us. It was the second to the last bus of the night. Feelings hurt, we wondered if we should’ve been at the road instead of the bus stop. We walked to the road and plopped our stuff down there. We waited for quite some time and then decided that since the bus was really only saving us a little over a mile, we’d suck it up and hike it. We were wasting daylight. But the packs were so heavy. So. Heavy.
Whatever, let’s do this thing…after we pee. Fifty feet from that decision, we put the packs down and darted into the woods. Mid-pee, I heard the bus slowing down. THE BUS. OMG THE LAST BUS. I turned to see Aidan throwing his pack over his shoulder and running full-tilt toward it. I leaped, pulled my shorts up, and ran. A little pee dribbled down my leg. I didn’t care. Aidan was getting on the bus. I hooked my pack over my left shoulder and took a shortcut through the woods. The bus was leaving with Aidan on it. I flung myself into the road and frantically waved for the bus to stop.
The bus stopped.
The driver smiled. Hi. Come on aboard.
I climbed on, and we rode in silence and comfort for one mile. Then we stepped off. Back in the wilderness.
It was 4.5 miles until we left the no camping zone. We got this.
An undercover Park Ranger stopped us not long after. “Where do you think you’re going this time of the evening?”
Just past the ‘no camping’ area 4.5 miles from here, of course. We got this.
“Okay,” she said.
We didn’t make it. It was getting too dark. We got maybe three miles toward that 4.5 mark. Unintentional Illegal Camping again. We found a flat spot a bit off the trail and up the hill, away from water and easily impacted areas. Leave No Trace. We did our stretches and ate a hurried dinner. The alpenglow claimed the mountaintops, turning them pink and then slowly, a deep purple.
Another night cashed in without seeing stars. It never did rain.