Into the Wild

Bear boxes at Tuolumne trail head

Alright, so it wasn’t the wild, but it was the backcountry of Yosemite National Park. Water had to be purified, food carried in canisters to discourage bears and we had to pack out all used toilet paper. For the opportunity to do these things we waited in line at 6:30 AM on the 21st of July. Only twelve permits were left and we wanted four of them.

And we weren’t the only ones.  Two young men slept in sleeping bags on the cement porch in front of the door to the ranger station.  Two others sat nearby on the step.  At 7:00 two hikers arrived.  By 7:10 there were four more.  At 7:15 the number doubled.  No permit, no trip.  Our fates lay with the national park gods.  At 7:30 the rangeress came out to give us the lecture on wilderness rules.  The doors opened and the “crowd” rushed forward like teenagers at a concert.

Each hiker exited the permit station with the coveted green paper prize clutched in his hand.  (There were only two females.)  Visions of high mountain lakes and meadows danced in their minds.  The freedom of the hills sang in their hearts.

And in ours.  Four people were ahead of us, so we got the middle four permits and retired to the store in Tuolumne Meadows to celebrate with a breakfast of a latte with sausage and egg biscuit and cheese.  Today we plan.  Tomorrow we hike – as soon as our other two partners arrive.

My partner Ed is a 74 year old gentleman I met on an expedition in Peru in 1978.   Last year he hiked to base camp on Everest and did a circuit around Annapurna, both in Nepal.   Starla and Tony Brown from Tennessee will experience their first backpack in California.  And, Ed has planned something beautiful for all of us.

The picture above is of bear boxes.  People hiking the Pacific Crest Trail or John Muir Trail cache their food here and pick it up later as they hike by.  It’s not a good idea to leave leftover food in the car.  Bears will break through the windows, so we left our extra food behind the metal door.

Permit line 2Waiting for a permit.  Ed is in tan in the middle.

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