I'm happy to report that we all made it back from our backpacking trip injury free (aside from a few blisters).
Here's a quick trip breakdown:Day 1 - Travel Day
We drove from SF to Mammoth via Yosemite, stopped in Lee Vining to pick up additional bear canisters and our wilderness permit, and then had dinner in Mammoth. We were planning to camp at one of the campgrounds, but when we got to the park the rangers had no idea whatsoever if there were any campsites available (there are over 100 campsites in the park). Great system, eh? We ended up wasting a ton of time having to drive to and through each campground all the while losing light only to discover that there were zero campsites. As light was fading we had to park in a parking lot, grab our gear (still in our street clothes) and hike 1/4 mile into the park and set up camp in the dark. It was rather stressful, but we managed. I was so afraid of bears that I didn't sleep AT ALL.
We ate breakfast at Red's Meadow Resort where they picked our pockets with gotcha by the balls prices. It didn't really matter though because the cornmeal pancakes were delicious. Plus our waitress told us this crazy bear story about how she was in charge of guarding the food overnight for a mule train, and how this bear just wouldn't leave her or the food alone. She hit the bear in the face with a rake repeatedly and it just wouldn't leave. Finally, she just snapped and charged the bear and started choking it around the neck. It ran off. She said that while she was doing it she was thinking that she must be crazy...
But I digress. This was our first official day of backpacking. We parked at the trail head, strapped on our packs and started our ascent of 1400 feet and 8 miles for the day on the Sierra High Trail. The views were amazing, and the trails were super dusty. Ah-choo!
We ended up taking the high trail until we ended up at Summit Lake, and then went past there to camp for the night at Clark Lakes. Unfortunately I didn't manage to snap any pics of the first campsite, but we were protected by the wind by a U-shaped nook of rocks which was full of the cutest chipmunks you have ever seen. SO CUTE!!! But too quick for the digital camera.
Griffin's brother and I had some time to relax in the sun by the lake while Griff and his father fished.
While Griff and I were trying to get some sleep, we heard a shriek from the tent adjacent. Apparently a large beetle was crawling on Griffin's brother's arm. It went something like this:girlish shriek
Dad: Put the knife down!
Brother: Get it!
Dad: Hold on!
Brother: Get it!
Dad: No, not the jacket!crunch
Apparently Griff's bro used his dad's jacket to crush the bug inside the tent. (Note: The stain on the sleeve of the jacket was huge and did not come out with washing.)Day 3
Today we decided to split into two groups. Griffin and his brother did this 10 mile loop with lots of elevation, while his dad and I took a shorter 3 mile loop to Thousand Island lake with only 300 feet of elevation.
G's dad and I got to the lake in 2 hours (around noon), and had tons of time to set up camp and take naps in the sun. We both started to get worried around 4 when we hadn't seen the boys yet. By 5 we were concerned. By that point I had walked the lake end to end to make sure they weren't looking for us (HUGE LAKE) and had also gone back to the trailhead.
By 6 we were getting worried. When I got back from my walk to the trailhead Griffin's dad took a turn and luckily when he got there he saw them coming. Whew. Turns out it was a much tougher hike than they thought it would be. Plus, they had heard that there were 5 bears living at the lake where we just set up camp. They tried to call my cell but no reception. Oh well, camp with the bears we must.
Actually this was my best night's sleep. We camped in a gorgeous meadow as close to the lake as was allowed.
While we were having dinner right by the lake (you have to cook and keep food away from your campsite) a ranger came by to check permits and found that some folks near us didn't have the required bear canisters. They had zip-loc bags. Oh, I'm serious. He made them have their kids climb up 100 feet with those bags so that they didn't endanger everyone.
Anyway, we didn't have any issues, and managed to break camp early and be on the trail by 8am.Day 4
Griff and his brother were sore from the previous day, so we adjusted our route a bit but still managed to hike by some gorgeous alpine lakes. It was a long day of hiking with lots of ups and downs.
The second half of the day was all downhill mostly over these medium sized rocks. Quite the recipe for ankle twisting.
We spent a couple of hours at Shadow Lake (amazing) and had a great time relaxing on the warm rocks - seriously it was like a free hot rock massage!
We ended up hiking down to 3,000 feet near the river trail and camping for the night. Ick. This was no alpine camping. It was overly buggy with both biting flies and mosquitoes. The ground was soggy and hard at the same time. It was pretty awful. I ended up using my mosquito neeting, and then post dinner spent the rest of the evening in the tent.Day 5
We had hiked so much the day before that we only had 3 miles to go before we reached the parking lot. Whew. Basically we broke camp by 7 and were at the car at 8am to head out to get some Mickey D's.
Then we started the long, scenic drive home.
It was truly an adventure, and I am happy to have shared it with Griff, his brother, and his father.
I'm not really sure yet if I'd do it again. This was our first trip, and we WAY OVERPACKED. All of our backpacks were at least 10 pounds heavier than we had planned which made the first day tough.
Oh, also, all of the boys lost weight. Each one of them. Me? Somehow I gained a few pounds. Let's hope it was all muscle because seriously I have never worked so hard for so many days and eaten so little in my life. No es justo!