to some big places. Thanks to my friend Matt for sharing the snaps.
First up, Tuolemne Meadows, the high country of Yosemite.
Let's break it down.
We learned a few things about group camp sites and adopted two bootleg seniors.
Did you know you can avoid the knife-fight required for no-reservation sites? And the reservation system where a computer decides what site would best suit you? It's called the group site reservation! Which you can make on line! Choosing you own site! I don't mind sharing the secret because I'll be making my reservation for next summer this fall.
On our second night we noticed a pair of seniors slip in between group sites and put down a couple of bags. They quietly ate their dinner and went to sleep. Bootleggers! The next morning they were up bright and early to wait in the same-day site line but returned a few hours later with no site. They were placed on the waiting list and told to come back at 2:00. I couldn't stand to have them waste their day and so invited them to join our group site. Husband was sort of cross with me, but how often do you get a chance to do a good deed with no skin off your nose? I hope when I'm their age I'm throwing down a bag under the stars and bootlegging a site.
Sophie, Husband, and I went on a short little toot of a hike to Elizabeth Lake. The next day, with more of our group who had arrived in the meantime, we hiked the kids the nature center and then to a junior ranger program over near Lambert Dome.
Later that night the full moon provided enough light for kids to fish down by the river.
Our best hike was to Budd Lake, located in a high bowl just across from Cathedral Peak.
The rangers were fairly cagey about the route, emphasizing that the trail is "not maintained." We headed a ways up the Cathedral Peak trail and traveled most the rest of the way off trail, which was exciting for the kids.
Lunch in a spongy patch of grass that we dubbed The Zen Garden revived everyone on the way up.
We passed Cathedral Peak on the way, amazed at the climbers braving the wind and pretty cold temperatures. It made me nervous just to watch them. The spire over to the left is Eichorn Pinnacle, named after our friend David Eichorn's dad, Jules Eichorn, a major mountaineer in his day and bagger of many first ascents in the Sierras. When we met up with David later in our trip and he saw Husband was reading a biography of Ansel Adams, he remarked "Oh, I met Ansel several times" and proceeded to tell us stories of his father, who was a music student of Adams' before Adams took him on his first trip to the Sierras to help schlep camera equipment. The story goes that once in the mountains, Jules disappeared for the rest of the trip. He had apparently found his crack, and Adams must have found someone else to carry the gear. For once I thought to myself "Who needs a book?"
We overshot our lake but finally found it, tucked into a little bowl at nearly 10,000 feet.
Husband was happy to have the new fly rod Sophie and I bought him for Fathers' Day,
but it was a kid who hooked the only fish of the day.
The weather got colder as the afternoon wore on, and it felt good to descend to a warmer temperature and less wind. By the time we got back to our camp, other campers said the rangers had been coming around warning people of colder temperatures expected that night, down to the 30s that night and 20s the next night.
I don't think it got that cold (we were fine), but the next morning we enjoyed several dumps of hale as we packed up camp.
After three nights (way too short) in Tuolemne Meadows, we headed down to Berkeley Tuolemne Camp for another three days. An organized camp crowded with people was a tough transition for me. Clearly I'm getting older and grumpier, but as camping and hiking with Sophie becomes easier, the lure of cooked meals and activities for my kid isn't quite as attractive as it once was.
August is usually steaming hot at camp, but temperatures were mild. The swimming hole was quiet, but my routine of breakfast-power hike-lunch-nap-reading by the river-happy hour on Lower Beach-dinner-ping pong-evening activity-bed was undisturbed.
But wherever I am, I'm always happy to hang with my gang, the Usual Suspects. Good times, good people. Next year we'll head up to Tuolemne Meadows before camp but with David Eichorn in tow. Actually, he'll probably be towing us. Nothing like a 70-something to flog you up a mountain