Sierra Backpacking Trip, 1994

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Devils Postpile to Yosemite Valley
September 1994

This hike was along the Northern most 60 miles of the John Muir Trail, from Devils Postpile National Monument to Yosemite Valley. We drove from Indiana, Dave drove from Phoenix, and we met within twenty minutes of each other in Tonopah, Nevada at the Best Western Motel where we had reservations. After a fun evening visiting and a good night's sleep, we left the next morning for California keeping in touch in our cars with our CB communications. Soon after entering California, we got on Highway 120, a scenic road through pine forests with lots of dips that made us squeal going over them....a fun road to drive.

We stayed two nights at Reds Meadow Lodge at 7500 feet to acclimate our bodies to the higher altitudes. It also gave us time to shuttle our car to Yosemite Valley for pick up at the end of the hike. It was our first true wilderness hike where there were bears so even though we were a little apprehensive we trusted our capable son, Dave, to know what to do. He planned for us to do the hike at a leisurely pace, taking 11 days to hike the 60 miles. The weather altered these plans slightly.
Reds Meadow Lodge.

This into a backpack?
Ready to go.
Our rustic cabin at Reds Meadow Lodge included a kitchen, bath, bedroom and a loft upstairs. After settling in we hiked about a mile or so to Devils Postpile mostly to stretch our legs. We came back, ate at the on-site cafe, and then spent the rest of the evening trying to decide how much or if everything would fit in our packs. Dave provided most of the stuff and he carried the heaviest load.

Finally the day came to start our hike. We got our permits and headed out. Since Dave is a strong hiker he went ahead, especially on the uphill climbs, and then waited for us at some scenic spot. We would soon tire going his pace and he would tire going our pace so this arrangement worked well. We hiked only 4 miles the first day but gained almost 2000 ft. It doesn't sound like much but we were tired. It is beautiful country.

We tramped, we camped, we tramped some more
Down to Lake Rosalie's shore.
The purest water, bluest sky, cleanest air
We'd rather be here than anywhere.

Beautiful scenery.
Banner Peak, elevation 12,945'.
End of the day.
A little farther on, such a magnificent sight,
A beautiful lake to the left, mountain peaks to the right,
A perfect place to spend the night.
Ralph,Millie, Dave
Thousand Island Lake
elevation 9834'.
Mt. Ritter and Banner Peak.
Love a campfire.
This old grandma is truly in awe
And thanking God for the beauty He made here.
For my health and ability to persevere,
And for our guide, our son, who is so dear.
Filtering water.
We have to keep clean.
Our second night's campsite at 9100' was a good one with beautiful views of 13,000' Ritter and Banner. We walked around oohing and aahing admiring the fantastic scenery. We could also see Shadow Lake in the basin below.

Dave's water filter didn't work for some reason so we improvised and strained our water through a clean handkerchief then added an iodine pill. We sure didn't want to get sick from contaminated water. There were several new experiences on this hike, getting our water from lakes and making it safe to drink, Dave hanging our food in trees away from bears, and we learned how to dig a hole for bathroom needs or happy moments we called them. We left no trace.
Doctor Wyant doctors his Dad.
11,056' Donahue Pass.
13,144' Mt. Lyell.
On the 6th day we had to abort the hike at Tuolemne Meadows because of snow. We were still 30 miles by trail, about 50 miles by road from Yosemite Valley and our car. The only help the store would give us was a piece of cardboard to write on for hitchhiking purposes. Dave stood at the road freezing and practically begging but no one stopped. Finally a young employee overheard us talking about our plight and offered to drive us in his van that was big enough for all of us and our gear. It was the best $50 we had spent for awhile. We got our car, drove back to Mammoth Lakes and stayed at a motel for two days until the weather cleared. We then returned to Tuolemne Meadows to finish the hike five days later.
He washed his socks
They froze.
It was only 26 degrees
when we got up.

Tuolemne Meadows
Small store on Tioga Road.

Climb awhile, then rest.
Another mile, each view seems the best.
We stop to eat
At eleven thousand feet.

We then descend through many a giant tree
Around a bend a startled deer runs in front of me
And a noisy bird fusses as I enter his territory.
Cathedral Peak
in the distance.
Happy to be back on the trail
We camped here.
Dave keeping our food from bears.
We're in bear country
And can't find a good tree
A crevice with rocks on it we use
Hoping our food we don't lose.

Along about eleven o'clock, a bear found our spot
He moved a rock, scared us a lot
Our whistles we blew, Dave chased him away
What else could we do to keep him at bay?

Morning came. We got out of our sack
In an elated mood
The bear didn't come back
We still have our food.

Dave and Ralph put huge boulders over this crevice to hide food.

Half Dome
A popular climbing rock.
On the trail, we've seen hardly anyone
Until Half Dome, the most popular place of all.
Here there are many having fun
Climbing the steps and cables on its wall.
I envy the young their energy and skill.
Dave went up there
Said it was a thrill
And you could see everywhere.
Yosemite Valley finish
Happy but tired.
We said our sad goodbyes here
at Mono Lake.
Bit by bit
We conquered it.
Truth is, it conquered us
A wonderful experience it was.