Friday, September 23, 2011

Range of Light

Three statements were made:
1.) It never rains in the Sierra, we shouldn't even bring a tarp.
2.) Bears don't exist in the Sierra.
3.) The Sierra are Awesome. It is so beautiful you will not be able to stop having eyegasms.

I doubted. "We'll see how many of these Andrew is right about," I thought as I packed the tent, rain gear, and bear cans.

Statement #3 was validated within the first 4 hours as we topped out over Bishop pass at sunset. Dusy basin, my first granite spire and alpine lake filled view of the Sierra was beautiful, and I had my first eyegasm. We bivouacked under a starry sky without the need for a tent.

Dusy Basin

Headed up toward Bishop Pass

The blue skies and eyegasms kept coming as we yo-yoed.

We dove down into LeConte canyon and then up over Muir pass...

second night bivouac campsite

just below Muir Pass

...down into Evolution Basin and up over Selden pass...

Creekside bathing session in Evolution Basin

Wildflower time in late September? Maybe I will stop complaining about the late melt out.

Selden pass: Lord of the Rings could have been shot here.

Taking in the view before heading down from Selden pass

... then down again to Bear Creek and up over Silver pass...

Marie Lakes

First night we had to pitch a tent, and only because I don't like bugs.

Andrew reading Rudin.

giving the feets a break over Silver pass.

Big sky over Silver pass.

Andrew's time out chair.

...and then down towards Red's Meadow where we promptly hopped on the bus into Mammoth for resupplying, showers, and pizza consumption.

Not paying attention to time, we missed the last bus back to the trailhead and were unlucky at hitching late in the day. Lacking the desire try too hard, we decided to check in for a night at a hotel. Surprisingly (or not), the Motel 6 parking lot was packed full of Harleys, all with California plates. A predominantly middle-aged motorcycle gang wearing matching Harley-decorated leather jackets idled in the parking lot, drinking Bud heavies that had semi-miraculously materialized from an ice chest in a minivan. We waited in line to pay for our room behind a German-American tour group organizer as he checked in for 16 rooms and asked about authentic steak dinner options. As we left the office I noticed that one of the minivans who had earlier supplied Budweisers was equipped with three copies of a giant handwritten sign that read "CAUTION: GERMAN MOTORCYCLISTS ON TOUR." I had simultaneous feelings of confusion and curiosity. Were they parodying us? What does the American experience feel like? I tried to exhibit my best manners around the poolside, attempting to strike up conversations with hopes of being invited along for a day on the back of a bike. No luck. I must not have looked American enough with my dirty clothes, backpack, and microbrew in hand.

Showered and well fed, we caught the trail where and how we left it. We stopped early, enjoying gummy bears and apples as we watched the sky turn colors over Garnet lake.

Garnet Lake at sunset

Thousand Island Lake, where I am pretty sure fairies and lost boys live.

As we topped out over Donahue pass, the sky began to turn dark. Rain and hail were soon splattering the ground as we headed down into Lyell canyon. Statement #1, sadly, was proven wrong, but the rain would at least hold of during the morning hours for the rest of the trip. Now officially in Yosemite Country, I expected us to see signs of Statement #2 being false, but we never did. The bears stayed out of site (if, in fact, they do exist). From Lyell Canyon we traveled to Tuolumne Meadows, by Cathedral Peak, and Sunrise High Camp.

Playing with fire at camp around Sunrise.

Trying to beat the rain, we rose early on our last day. Eyegasms all around.

Views from Cloud's Rest

Homeless appearing man on top of Cloud's Rest

Half Dome from above.

We picked our way down the gradually increasing stream of people headed up the trail. Yosemite felt more and more like a foreign Disneyland to me as we went deeper into the Valley. I started to have thoughts about what John Muir would have thought about national park use today, about why people could be so disgruntled in such a beautiful place, about...

...and then I saw a pizza stand, and my fickle self was grateful for civilization again.