Monday, June 16, 2008

Hiking Spree in Yosemite

After sobering up, a decent nights sleep in a roadside hotel (actual name "Roadside Hotel), and taking a few bottles of wine for the road, Elizabeth and I were able to descend into Yosemite Valley in the middle of the night. We probably should have done a little more research because without any welcome signs, or street lights, Yosemite Valley can appear to be a pretty unwelcoming place when it's pitch black. The winding roads go up, down, and around hills in such extreme ways you can see the same road you're on changing its direction several times in the distance as if the road itself doesn't know which way to go. A large flashing sign that read "Yosemite Valley Closed 10pm-4am" freaked us out and for a second it felt like I'd just reached Walley World with the Griswold family, but luckily enough for us it was only 9:30pm and Yosemite Valley wasn't closed for maintenance. There were no rangers working at that time though, and we just pulled through the entrance gate not knowing if we were breaking the law or what.

However, even after going through the "entrance" of Yosemite, you still have to drive a ways to get to the camp grounds. More winding roads along sharp cliffs were ahead until we saw something even more frightening looking appear right in front of us. Just like a good teen horror movie, our car headlights illuminated two large men carrying ropes, boots, and gear at the last second. Elizabeth screeched the car to a halt because she was so scared. While I tried to ask her why she stopped instead of getting as far away as possible from those two imposing figures, it was too late...those imposing figures were now both knocking on my window.

There is absolutely zero light around so two dark shadows stand over the car able to see in where the inside light is spotlighting our scared faces. Then in broken English I hear one of them say "You ride us camp?" These weren't hitchhikers from a teen horror movie, these were just over aambitious foreigners stranded after a day of rock climbing. The whole scenario was hysterical though. You would have had to been crazy to stop for these two guys (Elizabeth???), but then they sounded so helpless while still looking like a nightmare. Then while letting them in the whole time Willow was barking at them like they were Terminators. When they finally squeezed into the back seat with their over sized backpacks and climbing equipment you couldn't tell there were people sitting there. You would have just guessed Elizabeth and I packed the whole car to the brim with camping gear. So for the next 10 minutes or so of the ride we chatted with our new passengers.

They were from Austria, and seemed quite harmless. Talking with them was difficult though because it sounded like their bodies were rejecting the English language, and Elizabeth and I kept laughing while talking to them because their voices weren't coming from them. To us it looked like we were talking to two overstuffed backpacks. We got near camp and they stumbled out of the car with all of their equipment. Overall a very strange experience, and since Willow never stopped barking at them I'm still suspicious they might have been a new generation of "T-1000's". I never did actually see their faces. I guess we'll never know, but at least I survived.

We then checked into Curry Village and unloaded our stuff into our heated tent. Yes, the tent was heated, thank you Curry Village, and than you Elizabeth. A heated tent is definitely not something I would spring for if I were alone. The accommodations were nice but you can't really keep anything in your tent. Almost all belongings that look like food, smell like food, taste like food, or have been in the same country as food in the past 6 weeks need to be locked your provided the bear locker. Being that there was a "bear locker" and bear warnings all over the place I was hoping I would see one. I didn't...

But I did see nature at its finest. I also met a couple really cool guys to hike with and I did every trail I could (although Half Dome was closed for snow). The waterfalls were spectacular, rock faces were unreal, lakes, streams, paths, trails, they all blew me away. I loved Yosemite and felt so lucky to be able to visit there because I thought it was something special. Then I saw pictures of families that had been coming to Yosemite for vacations for over a hundred years. It made it seem a little less "adventurous" but a bit more educational. Either way, I got some amazing photos:

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