This weekend, a few friends and I went camping at Rancheria Falls in Yosemite National Park. I’m a terrible flat-footed* hiker, and probably won’t be invited to go camping again anytime soon. Thank goodness.
I had never been camping before, aside from school trips where we stayed in cabins or sleeping in a tent in my backyard. But I figured I could handle it. Walk around, look at nature, make s’mores… how bad could it be? During the email threads in the planning process, something about a “six mile hike to the campsite” was mentioned a few times, but I never got too concerned about it. I’ve hiked over six miles before and survived, so why should this be any different? Well, a few things were different. We were carrying camping gear. That stuff is heavy. A broken strap made it worse. And the trail was a lot rougher than we expected; lots of rocks and ups and downs as we walked along a beautiful yet unforgiving ridge. It was also hot (in the 90s I think), and smoke from the wildfires didn’t help our lungs. On top of all this, most of us (but admittedly especially myself) underestimated the amount of water we would need for the hike, due to the factors I just listed.
I don’t want to get too dramatic, because I’m sure there are plenty of stories about “the longest hike ever,” but it was pretty intense. It got to the point where my pathetic dehydrated self just couldn’t walk any farther, and I had to stop on the side of the trail, with no idea how I was going to continue. I was even hallucinating by that point, thinking that different colored rocks and patches of moss were water. Fortunately, my stopping point ended up being only 1/4 mile from the campsite, and Nelson was able to save me by running back with water. I can’t really remember that part too much, but I think there was something about a snake hole.
The actual camping part wasn’t bad. We had some issues with the water filter pump, but Nelson had brought some water purification tablets from his Google-issued earthquake survival kit, so we were able to use those instead. It felt good to finally sit down and just have some soup. I don’t even know what kind it was; I think it probably had rice and stuff that I would normally never eat, but at the time it was delicious. We also had s’mores, which I always enjoy. Sleeping was uncomfortable as one would expect when camping (in our case hot and with limited padding), but I’m about to crawl into my own bed so that part is a fading memory.
The hike back was much better than the hike out. We all drank a lot before we got going, and I carried more than twice as much water with me than I had walking out. One of my water bottles was actually a wine bottle, so I’m sure people passing us on the trail got a kick out of that. Traumatized by the previous day’s hike, I took it extremely slow on the way back, and Nelson and Koklynn ended up beating the rest of us by about an hour. They are inhuman.
Special thanks to Reid for planning and Nelson for saving my life. I’m going to eat dinner in my pajamas now.
*Diagnosed by some guy in a ski shop.