Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Part 3: A Day On The Lake

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You would think that as tired as I am I would be sleeping in and not wake up till noon.  I guess for as long as I'm in the woods, sleep will always be an issue for me.  

Since starting backpacking 3 years ago, I can count in one hand the times I've actually slept well.  This was not one of those nights.  I tossed, I turned, I snored...which woke me up.  I can't catch a break!  Up at the crack of dawn...5:30 AM to be exact, I decide to get up and just walk around camp.  Ears ringing, throat throbbing, not a happy morning but still in good spirits.

I sit by the lake with my cup of coffee and just wander with my thoughts...I quickly forget that I'm sick as a dog

A few hours later, camp start to wake up...feels strange to not worry about time. You can imagine that for the majority of the time, I typically only spend sub-24 hours in the woods.  The following morning typically means a quick breakfast, then packing up and hiking out.  Today, we get to relax, day hike, and explore.  

Originally, I wanted to join my friends in a day hike to Hart Lake - another Alpine Lake that's a bit off-trail that's about under 3 miles away.  However, I decide to hang back and just explore the lake.

After having my oatmeal with fruit...and another cup of coffee, I put on my trail runners and start to walk.  

There isn't really a trail around the lake and looking at the perimeter from a distance, some of these boulders seem innocent...until you get up close.  Ankle breakers if you're not careful.

Not sure how long it took to navigate around the lake but it was enough to tire me out.  Got back to camp and once again, I start feeling warm.  I head to my tent to take a mid-day felt good to catch up on some sleep.

I'm usually not one to just sit around at camp so the short jaunt around the lake pacified me enough...though I still wish that I bagged Hart Lake.

We had another beautiful sunny day at the lake.  The wildlife were also enjoying the day.  Marmots were going if on a mission, they kept stalking everyone at camp.  Possibly hoping to grab an easy snack!

This was my first time seeing a Marmot, naturally, I was excited! I kept chasing them, stalking them, hoping for that one great shot...they do like to pose but quickly move once they see you have the camera out...sneaky bastards!

Aside from Marmots, we also had a young buck that paid us a visit.

...and a chipmunk.

It was a truly nice day on the lake.  Warm and sunny, fish were biting, and wildlife...what more could you ask for?  

A few hours later, my friends return from their hike to Hart Lake and not soon after they decide to bag a peak jealous! Funny story actually how this peak needed to be bagged.

While lollygagging at camp, a few hikers pass through and we all greet one another.  Once couple, however, struck us as unique...well, that's putting it nicely.  They were more douchey least the one lady was.

Us: Hi! Where did you guys head to?

Douchey Lady: We headed to this scarp by the other end of the cirque

Us: Oh! How was it? Sounds like a good hike!

Douchey Lady: It was! But you guys look like you're having fun too.  We like to hike, but you (while gesturing at all of us) can also sit around like what you guys are doing.  Ok, see you guys.

Wow...really? How presumptuous of you!  Well, you can imagine, that didn't sit well with us so some of the group took it as a dare and half of my friends decide to head to this "scarp" HA!

40 minutes later, I hear a "hoot" and this is what I saw...

They bagged it alright...challenge accepted and met! 

Later that evening, everyone talks about the trip so far.  Sad that this was my last night in Ostrander Lake and it felt as though I didn't accomplish anything.  Compared to my trip last year to Ediza Lake where I hiked to Iceberg Lake.  This is just a sign that I need a return trip here to finish what I started.

Dinner for our last evening was wonderful.  Two of my friends started to fish the lake and pretty much provided dinner for everyone.  Nothing like fresh Brooke Trout cooked in Butter and Olive Oil to fill our starving stomachs. 

The following morning, everyone was quick to rise knowing it was time to go.  It was bitter sweet for me at this point.  On one hand, I was happy to have had the chance to go on this trip and on the other, I was sad that I didn't get to accomplish the goals I have set for myself.  Again, this will be used as a reminder to come back here again.

Overall, this was a wonderful trip.  I got to experience Yosemite as I have always spending time in the woods and not with the tourists in the Valley.  There is still so much and so many trails to explore here and I cannot wait to come back.

As always, thank you for reading and I appreciate everyone's support.

Till next time...see you on the trails.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Part 2: The hike to Ostrander Lake

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After a mile or so into the hike, we reach the first junction.  Based on our maps, we still have a little over 4 miles or so to go.

First Junction
As I mentioned on Part 1, the first few miles of this hike is pretty flat and scenic.  A very shaded and well maintained was actually a nice trail to walk on and it suited me fine considering my condition for the hike.  

At this time, my group has formed clusters where certain people break off the main group.  The "hike your own hike" philosophy I employ is apparent.  I personally was surprised that I was keeping up with the fast group but sadly, this changes later on.

An hour or so into hike, we reach the second junction on the trail.

At this point, this is where the trail basically starts to climb. Though gentle at first, it does get steep - at least for my standards it was steep.

Now, you have to remember that when hiking in the Sierra Range, the trail will provide you with something amazing that helps you forget all the pain.  After hiking the uphill section, the trail opens up to this...

One last turn on the trail and the Ostrander Ski Hut comes to view...oh what a sight.  Seeing this was a psychological boost for me...I can rest soon.

Exhausted, hungry, and feeling a bit weak, I look for my group and find a spot to setup for the weekend.  There are quite a few spots 200 feet away from the lake that offered good wind breaks and shade.  I find a spot between two trees where I can setup my tarp shelter.  

Home is setup. time to sit by the lake and have some lunch.  We started hiking around 10:00 AM and I arrived at 12:30 PM...not bad for a sick guy I guess.  

The hike as a whole was very scenic and simply beautiful.  I'm sure I would have enjoyed it more if I was at 100%.  In the end, I am happy I made it to camp...I can relax and enjoy the view and the sounds of the lake.

Part 3...A day on the Lake - coming next


Monday, June 2, 2014

Part 1: The trip that almost didn't happen.


After months of preparation and planning, wouldn't you know that I tiny issue like a flu almost killed my trip.

Tuesday, May 20th - After work, I joined a few co-workers and hiked a quick 6 mile loop in the Verdugo Mountains.  Underestimating the weather, I didn't bring anything to keep me warm.  Seeing how warm it has been, I never considered that the weather would have been as cool as it was even at low elevation (~3000 ft.).  After completing the hike, I already felt a head-cold coming along...I knew this wasn't going to be good.  As soon as I came later that evening, I took a shot of some Booster C.

Wednesday, May 21st - 6:30 AM, slowly getting up, I feel warm but I needed to go to work.  Being at work felt awful and the 8 hour day felt long...6PM could not come quick enough.

Thursday, May 22nd - 7:45 AM, groggy, ears ringing, and the feeling of weight on my shoulders...I grabbed the thermometer and it reads 104.3 degrees.  Not good, not good at all.  Only 1 day left till the trip, I had to do something drastic to recover and I needed to do this FAST!  Called in sick and crashed back to bed...pretty much was my whole day.  Later that evening, my fever breaks to 101 and I feel slightly better.  Time to pack...loaded my bear canister with 4 days worth of food and loaded my pack with all my gear - I didn't bother to weigh anything and I didn't care how light or heavy my pack was.  

Friday, May 23rd - 6:00 AM, day of the trip.  Fever finally at under 100 degrees.  Still feeling off but comfortable enough for the long drive.  After picking up a friend later that morning, I'm finally off to Yosemite.

It has been a crazy 3 days of hell but I wouldn't miss this trip for the world.  It's my first time in Yosemite after all, and I didn't want anything to get in the way of that...not even my health.

The drive to Yosemite was nice.  Traffic was mostly light and whatever heavy traffic we did encounter passed quickly.  Weather was beautiful and the skies were clear.  Last report from the Yosemite Rangers was that all roads in Yosemite were all open.  Whatever snowfall that caused the road closures earlier during the week have since dried off.

We arrived at the Park at 3:20 PM which left us with less than an hour to pick up our permits for Saturday - our weekend destination was Ostrander Lake.  We got to the Wawona Visitor and Permit Center shortly after and received our permits for the weekend...I can breathe now.  Time to head to the Village...another 32 miles down the road.

Before arriving at the Village, I noticed a few people looking over to the left. Curious, I parked on a pull-out to the right and this is what I see...holy $@%# what a view. I can't explain what I'm feeling at this point...I just had to pinch myself because I still couldn't believe I'm here. 

After taking our photos from this iconic overlook, we continue on to the Village.  We needed some supplies for our trip like Nyquil, Shot Bloks, etc.  Yosemite at this time of the year was packed...almost all car camping areas where full and the roads were filled with cars, bikes, hikers, and tourists.  

Footbridge to Backpackers Camp
5:00PM, we arrive at the Backpackers Camp where we plan on staying for our first night.  It looks like we arrived just in time...the camp was almost full and most of the good spots taken.  Bear warning signs everywhere...this is the first time that I'm truly freaked out by Bears.

That evening, I barely sleep. The combination of excitement and my fever slowing coming back prevented me from getting a good nights sleep.  Not to mention a loud bang from what sounded like a gunshot  This kept me alert along with loud footsteps from rangers constantly walking around with beacons to what I imagine is a tracking device to find a bear running rampant around the grounds.

6:00 AM, I decided to get out of the tent and start finalizing what food I need to bring to Ostrander Lake.  I realize that I have overpacked on food.  Luckily there are bear boxes by the trailhead and I can store food there.

7:10 AM, I leave camp to find my car...I get lost and waste 20 minutes walking around.  I get back to camp and ask one of my friends if she remembered where I parked...clearly my brain is still not with me despite having 2 cups of coffee.  8:00 AM, I finally find where I was by the trailhead to Happy Isles.

By 8:30 AM, we're on our way to Glacier Point Road to the Lost Bear Meadow Trailhead to Ostrander Lake.

9:00 AM, we arrive at the trailhead.  Feeling energized and good...I feel ready to hike the short 6 miles to Ostrander Lake.  Most of the hike the trail is flat - it only gets steep for the last 3 miles or so of the hike.  Due to not feeling 100%, the uphill stretch affected me and it felt like a chore...nothing else to do but put one foot in front of the other, it will end soon.

Part 2 Coming Next...stay tuned.