Sleeping in the Wild
I’m not going to lie, I barely slept a wink.
When you’re 7,800 ft up a mountain in the dead of night you can hear every little scuffle for miles- I was constantly on edge; Not to mention that it was absolutely freezing! I did however, muster up the courage to leave the safety of my thin sheet of fabric lining the once- to take a leak- and that was only after holding it in for over an hour. The night skyline was absolutely insane; I have definitely never seen that many stars in real life before! It is so easy to get lost in the sheer expanse of everything above you- until another animal squawks in the far distance and hibernation is the only option.
It’s a pretty cool thing to unzip your tent and this being your very first view of the new day:
As the sky got brighter and the valley become more illuminated it became even more enchanting. What really surprised me was the scale of everything. Far below in the valley, small specks of tourists were just beginning to emerge from their ant-like cars. Everything was moving in super slow motion. The usually imperious figure of half dome and the huge Yosemite Waterfalls looked so minuscule and obsolete from where I was standing- Like they were made using clay or as part of a small fairytale model. It was really quite surreal: Yosemite is amazing!
I cooked up some soup for breakfast and set up my camera ready for sunrise.
Its fair to say that sunrise at Eagle Peak is spectacular! The cherished reward for climbing above Yosemite falls and camping overnight at its summit is that you are facing East, across the entirety of Yosemite Valley with all the notable attractions within your periphery.
I watched as the first rays of the new day revealed themselves from behind the mountain and grazed the tip of half dome; Before eventually opening up to the rest of the valley. Bucket List!
After basking in the warmth of the new sun for a good hour or so I decided it was time to pack up my camp and head down the mountain- another 6 hours of treacherous, knee-jerking hiking.
I was down to my last bottle of water so I scooped up some ice in my other 3 empties to ensure I kept hydrated on the way down.
The first hour was fairly easy- its a lot easier to descend snowy terrain in the daylight, when you can see! Also for much of it I could just sit down and let the weight of my backpack force me down the hillside- like a sledge.
However its defiantly as hard, if not harder to descend than ascend on the rocky terrain- which is what over 3 quarters of the hike was. Not only did it absolutely wreck my knees and back but I always felt dangerously off balance- the weight of the backpack just takes over and pulls you which ever way it wants- which is particularly nerving on the steep declines.
Nonetheless I made it to my first checkpoint- Yosemite falls-where I rejoined civilization for the first time in about 12 hours.
I continued further down, where I eventually ran out of water and became quickly dehydrated. Fortunately I only had an hour of shaded hiking to complete before I would touch the ground again. Also there were plenty of people around who were only too helpful to share some as they rested.
I eventually reached ground level at about 3pm and headed straight for the village to indulge on a Burger, 2 portions of chips and unlimited refill of Coke. Everything tastes better after a grueling climb and its amazing how much energy a greasy meal and lump full of sugar can give you- so much so I sort of wanted to climb to the top all over again- despite my agony for the final 2-3 hours of descent.
I washed myself down and headed over to my camp to fetch the remaining items I had left behind before climbing to Eagle Peak and then to Curry Village to recharge my batteries, both literally and metaphorically.
My last thing to tick off before I was to leave Yosemite Valley and continue my journey through the Sierra Nevada mountain range, was to capture the cliché image of Tunnel View at Sunset.
I headed over in the truck, found a spot to park and walked to inspiration point to capture the Postcard Photo of Yosemite.
When the sun did eventually drop over the valley I was joined by a family of deer who had emerged from the thicket of the surrounding foliage- Yosemite is awesome!!
Next stop, Sequoia National Park, Kings Canyon!