We’re back from a week in Yosemite… a week with no kids and no cell phone reception! For those who are curious about what we did and how we did it, here is a bit of our itinerary, and also all my best photos.
Our children are now 4.5 and 2.5, and so Elliott and I had been talking about taking a longer trip away, just the two of us. We’ve slipped away before, but never for more than two nights. This time we were dreaming of going for a week or so, maybe out of cell phone reception, and perhaps as far-flung as South America.
The grandparents eagerly lined up to care for the kids; Elliott’s parents came to our house the first three days and my parents took over for the final four days of our trip. Thank you again, wonderful parents, for making this possible!
Eventually we decided to do something rugged, something we couldn’t do with our children anytime soon. We chose the Yosemite High Sierra Camps loop, which is a network of five camps each located about 10 miles apart, and all at about 9,000-10,000 feet in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of northern California. We chose the option that allowed us to eat a full breakfast and dinner at each camp and sleep in their tent cabins (more about those below), which meant that we only had to bring a daypack with us that held our clothes, toiletries, and books.
And then at 4am on Wednesday, August 26, we took off for Yosemite!
After eight hours of driving, we arrived and found a place to leave our rental car for a few days. Then we caught the shuttle to the trailhead and started walking. By now it was about 4pm and dinner would be served at the camp at 6:30, so we were glad we only had 2.5 miles to go that evening to get to our first camp.
At 6pm the bell rang for hot drinks, and everyone gathered to talk and sip tea, coffee, or hot cocoa. At 6:30 the bell rang again, and everyone filed into the meal tent to share long tables and eat a family-style meal. Dinner always started off with a bowl of homemade soup, freshly baked bread (at 10,000 feet!), and a green salad. Afterwards came the main course (salmon, pulled pork, chicken, steak, spaghetti and meatballs… it changed every night) accompanied by sides like roasted vegetables or rice. And they always served dessert!
That night we slept for the first time in a tent cabin. We always hoped to get our own tent cabin, but they were four- to six-person tents and we never got so lucky! Thankfully we always had great roommates, and with earplugs we didn’t hear any snoring. The cots were comfortable, and we slept in our own sheet sacks between the blankets and pillows that the camp provided.
After hot drinks at 7am and then breakfast at 7:30 (hot oatmeal or cold cereal, fresh fruit, pancakes, bacon or sausage, and a large omelet to share… it was ridiculously good food), we set off on our 9-mile hike to Sunrise Lakes High Sierra Camp.
I waited by this lake for 1.5 hours while Elliott decided to catch the shuttle back to the car, dump a bunch of extra stuff he had overpacked, and get my camera — because my phone battery was dying quickly and I wanted to take lots of photos. A good decision all around, although it set us back on our hike that day.
This is one of the Sunrise Lakes, which were all so calm and beautiful. This was the hardest day of hiking for me, because the last six miles of the hike were all uphill, and I was really feeling the altitude. That night I woke up to a splitting headache that lasted most of the night, even after I took some Ibuprofen. Thankfully, though, that was the turning point! Afterwards the hiking was smooth sailing.
Gray morning because of a forest fire nearby. Thankfully this is the closest we got to one. My husband catching trout with his bare hands on our lunch break! And me by a mountain juniper tree, one of my favorites that I learned to recognize on this trip.
Merced Lake High Sierra Camp was the largest of the five camps, with about two dozen tent cabins arranged in a circle in a meadow. We made friends that night with some hikers our own age from the South, two things which were pretty unusual — everyone else was middle-aged and from Minnesota.
OK, just kidding about Minnesota.
We spent the afternoon on the beach by the creek at Merced Lake, reading and dozing. Actually, Elliott said, “This photo should be titled, ‘Where Becca took a nap.'” There are few things more satisfying than sleeping, though, after you have finished your hard work for the day and have nothing else to do — no dinner to make, no kids to care for, no work to accomplish — nothing else to do all day… except rest!
And so we did.
More tomorrow from the rest of our hike!