Friday, December 4, 2009

Yosemite Death March - Part Four

"Water, water everywhere; and not a drop to drink." Vernal Fall, like all Yosemite waterfalls in the height of the runoff season, disgorges a tremendous amount of water. The Mist Trail is so heavy at times hikers wear ponchos or other rain gear to keep themselves semi-dry. It is especially important if you are carrying a camera that is not waterproof. This shot, taken on our first visit to the Mist Trail, captures the force of the fall. The trees and rocks are almost in silhouette and it reminds me of the stylized Chinese or Japanese art.

The Falls were just as spectacular during the Death March, but by the time I reached the footbridge at the base of the Mist Trail, I was done and the scenery was the least of my concerns. It was only with massive cajoling and threats by my companions that I continued. By this time, Tina's and my water bottles were empty. It was still a good 1/2 mile to the trailhead and the promised shuttle bus to Camp Curry. But night was coming on rapidly. We had to get down before it was too dark to see the trail, which was covered in a thick coat of granite dust from the rock slide a few days earlier.

I had no idea how I was going to make it. But we staggered on down the trail as best we could. Fortunately Roy and Aida had a ace up their sleeves. They knew that part way down the trail there was a natural spring that emerged a few feet up the slope from where we would walk. Despite the warnings, we were reasonably sure that if any water was going to be amoeba-free, it would be at the point were it emerged from the ground. So we drank, and drank, and drank. The water was incredibly sweet. I thought I'd never get enough.

There was only one other time that water has tasted that good to me, and that was also from a natural spring, one on the trail up to the top of Mt. Baden-Powell here in the Angeles National Forest. My Boy Scout troop knew of it's location and made a point to visit it every time we hiked Baden-Powell. Like the Yosemite spring, I could not get enough to drink.

In any event, that small, trickling spring, emerging magically out of the powdery dust on that mountainside, saved me. It was still a long haul, but we eventually made it to the shuttle stop in total darkness. Ironically, there was a couple of hikers behind us and they caught up with our party at that point, but not before spooking Aida into thinking we were being stalked by bears. This will become important later.

I can't really remember the shuttle ride to Camp Curry. My memory says we missed the last shuttle and had to walk. Everyone else says we did make the last shuttle. Perhaps my brain had shut down by then. I do remember making it to the cafeteria at Camp Curry and just getting our order into the kitchen before it closed. The pizza was hot, but I could barely taste it; I was shivering and my body was shutting down. Unfortunately, we still had 3/4 of a mile to go to our camp site. But like any good serial, that part will have to follow later.

1 comment:

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