We got up and ready before the sun hit the bottom of the valley and headed up the trail. The view from our rock was fantastic. A great start to a day with amazing weather. Today’s goal was to make it to Tuallame Meadows, drink more, and eat more. Overall I felt pretty good considering we hiked nearly 12 miles the day before. We had 13 miles to get to Tuallame Meadows and it was quite the roller coaster. Not as brutal as the day before leaving Yosemite but several large ascents in short miles. We passed by Sunrise Lakes, Sunrise camp, and Cathedral Peak.
The decent off the mountain was roughly 6 miles. I passed several lakes and the sky was so blue it was dark blue. I passed several mule trails that eventually passed me up headed back down the mountain before getting to Tuallame Meadows. The weather was simply fantastic. I had met up with Paul earlier in the day and he decided to push on to Tuallame Meadows so that he could get to the Permit office to pick up our permit for the rest of the trip. He wanted to make sure that he got there before it closed. With a mile or less to go I was beat. I am pretty sure that I was asking for the trail head to appear very soon or at least transportation of any kind that did not require me walking. I had not seen to many people except as I got closer to Tuallame Meadows more and more people were headed up the trail headed towards the lakes. I even saw one guy who had blown out the sole of his shoe and asked if I had any duct tape to help fix the front part that was flapping around.
I met a very nice gentleman from the area who was out for the day and I had made mention of his Geigerrig pack and asked him how he liked it. We chatted about how awesome the Geigerrig products are and he explained that there was a shuttle that would pick me up from the trial head and take me up to the Tuallame store area. Ten or so minutes later we reached the trail head wished each other well on our journeys and to the bus stop I went. The bus arrived shortly after I got to the bus stop and I was done hiking for the day. So I thought.
The bus driver was very nice and explained how I could get to the backpackers campsite from where we where and I thanked him hopped off the bus and headed in the direction he has pointed me. I wandered around for awhile looking for a sign or anything that said backpackers campground when I literally stumbled upon it. The section reserved for backpackers was not very easy to spot. I was also not told that in order to get to the campground one had to hike up another small hill but to me it was a mountain.
I reached the summit and eventually found Paul. He had only beaten me there by a few hours. I had not really been paying attention to time much and he had said that I must have been booking it down the mountain to get there when I did. Excluding the fact i was exhausted I felt pretty good. Much better than the previous day. We headed to the little store got some sodas, candy, and other items before it closed for the evening. We were hoping that Chris, Andy, and John would meet us at the backpackers campsite some time in the evening but had not heard anything from any of them. I was able to get a text out to Andy saying that they would be there early the next morning.
Camp was set up dinner eaten and Paul and I began to talk about the days ahead. As we began to talk I became more and more worried about my pace, altitude, and how my body had been performing. Tuallame Meadows was also the last stop to get back to civilization that did not involve an emergency helicopter rescue. I called home and talked with my girlfriend and we both agreed that I needed to sleep on the decision. I headed to be early as did Paul with excitement of meeting the other guys.
KABLAM…..GO AWAY BEAR…… GET OUT OF HERE BEAR….. if the entire campground had not been awake there were after the loud explosion that went off in the wee early morning hours. I did not check to see what time it was but whatever exploded sounded like a small cannon to me. Another theory wast hat it was a piece of a meteor crashing to earth. I still think it was some kind of bear scare device. I soon drifted back to sleep. It was hard to stay asleep due to lots of people running around opening and shutting the bear vaults at various campsites. I would guess that people were throwing whatever they could into them as a precaution. Later on that next morning I was told that two hikers had their packs taken by a bear because of candy wrappers left in the pockets.
Paul and I got up made breakfast and packed up our gear as we waited for the rest of the crew to show up. I talked with Paul explained where my mind was and my thoughts on continuing on or taking the safer route and heading home. I felt that there was no real way that I was going to keep up with the rest of the crews pace. We also talked about logistics if it were possible for me to simply take a bit longer time to complete the trip. All of it boiled down to food. The amount of food I had and that was coming to me would not allow for any extra days. I also did not have any good ways to get more food out to me while on the trail. My girlfriend back home would have been able to send me food but we had no idea where.
We met up with Andy and Chris and I explained the situation and my decision. Everyone was bummed but we all agreed it was the smartest and safest choice. We all hung around and chatted while Paul packed all the food Andy and Chris had brought with them that had been shipped to Chris’ brothers house before hand. It was then time to say our goodbyes. They hit the trail around 10:00 am and I began figuring out how I was going to get home…
The adventure continues…..