June 26-27: I love Yosemite. I've always loved Yosemite. Prior to this, my experiences in Yosemite have been limited to what I think of as "the front end." Entering on the west side through Yosemite Valley and hiking/ exploring the big iconic sites- Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, El Capitan, and the trails around that area. I had yet to experience "the back end."
It did not disappoint.
Throughout Yosemite, I was lake hopping. Hike until I reached a nice lake, stop for a snack and a swim, hike se more. Much better than shade hopping!
Unlike the lakes I the high Sierras, which only allowed a quick dip lasting 2-3 seconds, the lakes here in the lower elevation actually allowed swimming. Like- into the middle of the lake and back!! I soon learned that the longest part of any swim was waiting for your underwear to dry after the swim so you could hike again. And before long, I- and all the other thru hikers- were just jumping in sans skivvies to speed the whole get-back-to-hiking process. When amongst thru-hikers, this is no big deal. The most attention you are gonna get is:"Hey! I have that exact same chafing rash!" But Yosemite had any other hikers besides us thru-hikers. Some entire families. Which is how I learned that I can hide my entire body behind the square of one bandana. Totally doable. And I'm quite good at it!
I spent much of the first day leapfrogging with Captain Crunch and Gemstone, two fellow AT thru hikers from 2013. They were a couple of dreadlocked, yoga practicing vegetarians who had spent the past year in Belize. They were great! (And they both had the same chafing backpack rash as me)
End of day one brought me to what I consider to be the best camping spot of my entire hike. Benson Lake. The water level was low, but it was beautiful nonetheless. And was such a great camp spot, I had lots of company. Camping party Yosemite style! Potluck dinner with Captain Crunch, Gemstone, G&G (a husband and wife team), Queen Bee, Prickly Pear, buffalo, and others. Lots of fun!
The next day brought me from the best camp spot to the best swim spot of the hike. I was up and out early (as usual) once again planning the day around stopping at swim-able lakes. Queen Bee and crew passed me mid morning, and I caught up around lunchtime. They had chosen to eat at the campsite at Tilden Lake, I decide to go a bit further to a big flat rock because the Mosquitos were biting! It was a fantastic place to swim! I swam out into to middle of the lake and back, floats on my back, swam underwater, and more or less enjoyed being in the cool (not cold) water. Then I got out and ate.
After lunch, I ran into Secret, whom I had not seen since Kennedy Meadows. It was nice to catch up. We hiked for a while, and then I pulled ahead, trying to get a few more miles in. I wanted to make it up to Dorothy Lake today.
The next few miles took me through a high alpine meadow that was absolutely amazing. It was one of those moments where it was hard to believe that I was actually HERE! So lucky to be able to experience this.😊
When I got up to Dorothy Lake, it was still fairly early on the evening. Plenty of time to take a dip! The water was quite cold and the wind was picking up, so I dried off and pulled on another layer. Then out of an already pitched tent came Charlie- whom I hadn't seen since Warner Springs! He was going by "Frosty" now. Today was turning out to be quite a reunion.
A few minutes later, a big group arrived- Prickly Pear, Queen Bee, and the rest of the group. It was going to be tight in the campsite. Since it was still early, and I hadn't set up camp yet, I decided to push on pass Dorothy Pass a couple miles to a small campsite the guide listed.
It was an easy enough hike the next couple miles, but it seems I I had hiked into mosquito paradise! I quickly zipped myself into my tent and did a cold dinner so as not to fight Mosquitos over the stove.
Great day, uncomfortable night.
Peace love and trail magic!