Backpacking at Yosemite, CA

(Last Updated On: September 14, 2016)

** This post has been imported from raga’s old travel blog.

This trip definitely needs to be mentioned in this blog. My brother in law’s colleague is an avid outdoor enthusiast. I like outdoors but nobody can match this person’s love for outdoors. Anyways, he got us wilderness permit (back in February 2009) for backpacking at Tuolumne meadows, Yosemite, CA. After couple of meetings on route planning, the shopping began for backpack, compact sleeping bag, 2 person tent, 3 liter camelbak, rotis and ready to eat stuff. After buying these, we packed everything in the backpack and found it so heavy! It must have been around 40 lbs on day one. We packed 5 liters of water since you need water for everything in the wilderness.

We started on Friday around 2:15 PM and expected to reach Yosemite at 6:15 PM. However, we reached at 7:45 and kept our captain (brother in law’s colleague) waiting for almost 3 hours. Meanwhile, our captain rented two bulky bear canisters to protect our food and ourselves from grizzly (cuddly?) bears. After we reached there, we redistributed our things evenly and we were ready to hit the trail. Our captain helped us a lot in adjusting the backpack to our torso in such a way that your hip bone takes all the weight and not your shoulders. This is the first lesson you learn from backpacking. If it wasn’t for him, we would have carried the entire weight in our shoulders and would have ended with sore shoulders. Thankfully he was helping us all the way along.

We hit the Glen Aulin trail at around 8:00 PM and the sun was already setting. We started with our super heavy backpacks into the wild! The beautiful meadows, scenic mountains and fresh running stream motivated us to see more. We crossed a tricky stream in between and chose our first campsite in the wilderness. Due to lack of time, we had to setup our tent in a hurry. With darkness surrounding us, we decided to eat quickly and hit the sack as soon as possible. Our ready to eat stuff helped us in filling our stomach. However, cooking/eating in the wilderness was totally a different experience. No light, no dining tables, uncomfortable weather and annoying insects took us way back into time. After dinner, we sat out for a while and enjoyed the beautiful, uncountable bright stars in the sky which you can never see from the city. When we decided to sleep, it was totally uncomfortable, both the tent and the new environ. We kept the bear canisters 50 feet away from our tents to protect ourselves. The pine trees amidst the dark sky were horrifying and the sound of wind, coyotes howling scared us even more. However, staying away from civilization was a wonderful experience.

After a disturbed sleep, we spent the night safely and got ready to proceed further. Nature calls were answered in the ancient way and we felt funny! The backpack did not feel light even after consuming water and food. It was damn heavy just like the first day. One thing we learned during the night was to conserve the precious resource, water. I was just imagining how carelessly we waste water back in the city. We freshened up a bit and hit the trail again. We passed through breath taking Yosemite beauty, monstrous granite rocks, green meadows, thunderous waterfalls and everything looked like a place in heaven. You can never enjoy this if you hadn’t hiked the valley. No camera could capture this scenery.

We proceeded towards Glen Aulin and I was already feeling hungry. Couple of cereal bars here and there did not help much. The final 3 miles were really gruelling and it took more time than expected to reach Glen Aulin.

A roaring waterfall welcomed us at Glen Aulin. However, all I could picture was lunch! We chose a suitable campground and pitched our tents. By that time, we had run out of some water and it was blissful to find drinkable water at this backpacker’s campsite. We kind of returned to half-civilization since we had access to water and compost restrooms. We had a satisfying lunch and drank so much water to quench our thirst. Our captain decided to hike 3 more miles to see a nearby waterfall. We left our heavy backpacks back at the tent and carried just a liter of water to the falls. The weight off our shoulder was so relaxing. But the heat almost killed us, especially me. I got dehydrated and could not carry myself forward. Our captain decided to head back to Glen Aulin and that was a good decision for all of us. Back at the camp, my brother in law and our captain decided to take a dip in the waterfall. I decided to take a nap. I decided to sleep outside the tent on the camp mat. With gentle breeze blowing, I felt so relaxing and calm. It was totally an incredible experience. I am sure my other two hikers would have had similar experience in the falls. We spent that night peacefully, without any fear of bears or coyotes. We thoroughly enjoyed the valley views, the stars and the sunset.

The next morning we started out early around 7:30 AM. It seemed like the backpack will never become lighter. In the wilderness, we were not supposed to trash. We had to pack in-pack out all our trash. Luckily, a small eat out (for the non-backpackers) accepted our 2 lbs trash. However, we could not get rid of the remaining trash and had had to carry it with us. Then we enthusiastically hiked back towards Tuolumne meadows. Again, we encountered the 3 grueling miles on our way back. A couple of cereal bars and an energy shot helped us to finish those 3 miles. The last few miles were pretty easy without any elevation. Our captain showed us how to use a compass and it was damn interesting to learn about it.

We made good pace and reached our trail head around 10:45 AM. We got those backpacks off our torso and were feeling wonderful! We unpacked everything, returned the bear canisters and headed back to the civilization. We learnt a lot of things during this trip. More importantly, we learnt the value of water and the worth of our valuable environment. This trip definitely taught us how to appreciate little things in life.

While returning, we stopped at a breakfast café and munched on pancakes and potato fries. Finally when we sipped the good old hot chocolate, we were in a different world altogether.

9 thoughts on “Backpacking at Yosemite, CA

  1. Awesome post Raga! Totally inspired me to do a difficult trek as well. The place looks beautiful in the pictures. Send me a link to more pics and thanks for the great post!


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