June 21, 2018
For the last several days I’d had an obnoxious itch between my shoulder blades. There was no rash or bug bites or anything and it seemed to come and go randomly, so I didn’t know what was going on. I chose to ignore it.
I slept terribly that night despite being so exhausted by the time I crawled into my tent. I woke up so many times and was chilled to the bone even though it didn’t get that cold last night. I’d taken a Tylenol PM and couldn’t understand what was going on with me, but I woke up every hour or so and didn’t get up until 7:00am in an attempt to get some extra sleep and to stay warm.
Eventually, the sun was up and I decided there was nothing for it. I crawled out of my tent shivering and exhausted. I forced myself to sit at a nearby picnic table to prepare my coffee rather than stay huddled in my tent, thinking it would probably be better for my tailbone if I sit on a bench instead of on the ground. But I could not stop shivering. There was a bear box at our little campsite where I’d stored my bear can and anything that might attract bears, and now those things were sitting next to me at the table. I thought about eating something, but when I looked into my bear can the thought of chewing food made me sick. I mixed a lot of chai tea latte mix into my coffee for added calories and some liquid therapy instead.
Couch Potato has a Tarptent. I’m not sure which model, but I noticed that someone else camped right on the other side of us had a larger version of the same tent. I wondered if I’d like a tent like that. The couple in the larger tent eventually emerged and bid me a quiet good morning. We chatted quietly while they prepared their breakfast. They were from Toronto (Canadians everywhere!) who were doing a section hike of the JMT. Very nice young couple. I wish I could remember their names.
Eventually, Couch Potato emerged from his tent. I’d already finished my coffee and cleaned up my things, so we walked down the little hill and off to the general store. Couch Potato wanted to grab breakfast and I needed to collect a resupply from the Post Office. We had arrived too late the day before and the PO had already closed.
As I was collecting my box, someone grabbed hold of my shoulder and said, “Hey! You can’t be here!”
Startled, I spun around and was about to give whoever had laid hands on me a good, solid shove when I saw that it was Sparky! He had a huge grin on his face and wrapped me in a hug, laughing. He’d just arrived with Ghosthiker and her husband in a rental car, with plans to whisk me away on a driving tour of Yosemite National Park! I love my trail family!
I asked if we had room for one more in the car, which I think took them a little by surprise. I’d never mentioned I was hiking with someone these last several days, but they were both delighted and said of course! I was sure they’d like Couch Potato, friendly and easy-going as he was. As we stood there talking we were approached by a young female hiker named Book Worm. She’d hiked for several days with Sparky and Ghosthiker at the very beginning of the trail and they hadn’t seen her since, so it was a reunion on many fronts! While they chatted with Book Worm I went to see if Couch Potato wanted to come along on our driving tour, since he was taking a zero day anyway.
He did come, saying he had planned to just nap most of the day but that he probably wouldn’t get another chance to see Yosemite again, so why not? Ghosthikers’ husband did all the driving and Ghosthiker sat up front with him, of course, so Couch Potato, Sparky, and I crammed into the back seat. Crammed is kind of a strong word, I guess. We were all skinny enough by that point that it wasn’t really a tight fit at all to have three adults in the back of a sedan. The “boys” hit it off right away, as I suspected they would, and they spent most of the ride talking about things like sports and mountain climbing and cycling. I was happy to just sit quietly looking out the window and enjoying some fantastic scenery without having to hike through it.
Ghosthiker came to Yosemite a lot with her family when she was younger, so she knew the best spots to hit and which ones were worth skipping. We drove for almost two hours along winding forest roads that would often give us views of towering granite peaks, and then we came to a turnoff with lots of space for parking and tons of tourists. We all piled out of the car, stretching after the long drive, but before we could start making our way toward the lookout point Ghosthiker led us in the opposite direction, back toward the road and a nearby tunnel.
“This way!” She said, leading us down a narrow walkway along the inner wall of the tunnel. We followed her single-file as cars rushed past, the sounds of their engines and exhaust pipes echoing loudly off the granite dome of the tunnel. Eventually, we came to an opening in the wall that led down a darker, more rugged tunnel. It felt like we were descending into an old, wet mine. Before too long we came out the other end and were treated to the most fantastic, unobstructed views of Half Dome and El Capitan! No other tourists who were there that day knew of this great lookout spot, so we had it all to ourselves.
After that, we made our way to Mariposa Grove to see the enormous redwood trees. We saw the Grizzly Giant, said to be around 2000 years old. It was pretty impressive and definitely ancient-looking. On our “hike” back to the car, I felt energized and decided to run a little. It felt fantastic. I was so strong now after hiking through the Sierra that it felt like I was flying. I only felt it a little bit in my tailbone, which I took to be a good sign. I tired quickly and walked very slowly after that, letting the others catch up to me. My little burst of energy surprised me, given how I’d felt that morning.
Our last stop was Glacier Point, but it took us over an hour to get there. Yosemite Valley is huge and sprawling, but the places we went to were higher up and overlooking the valley itself, so there were a lot of winding mountain roads to get to each stop. I dozed off during the ride between Mariposa Grove and Glacier Point and was actually a little reluctant to climb out of the car when we finally got there. From that vantage point, we had fantastic views again of Half Dome and El Cap as well as several waterfalls and a great aerial view of the valley below.
By the time we got back to Tuolumne Meadows, I was exhausted, which seemed strange considering how little physical activity I’d actually done that day.
After that we basically ate dinner and crawled into our tents to sleep.