The front gate to Yosemite was unmanned when we entered the park at 7:30AM. We were a bit confused, and secretly crestfallen, since we enjoy using our All Access National Parks pass. We figured it would all work out. Perhaps they’d check it on the way out.
Since there was no spots left in any of the regular campgrounds, our plan was to spend one night in the backpackers campground before entering the Snow Creek trail for 5 days of camping in the back country. Our first stop was the Wilderness Center to get our back country permit. We’d already picked up enough freeze dried food for our 5 days of camping and planned to rent bear canister from the park to hold the food. Bear canisters are required for back country camping in Yosemite but they are a bit unwieldy at about 2-3 gallons in volume and a few pounds each. Just the same, bears with no taste for human food are less threatening to people and therefore live longer, so we’re happy to carry these giant canisters in our backpacks…
At the Wilderness Center the park ranger reminded us of all the camping rules, rented us our canisters and issues our back country permits. With permit in hand we had access to the back-packers camp, where you are allowed to stay for 1 night on either end of a back country trip. We drove to an overflow parking lot and laid out our tarp in the grass nearby and dumped out everything we’d need for camping. We’d never packed our backpacks before and had to figure out how it would all go together. It took a few hours, and the parking lot was hot under the noon sun. Once we finished we hoisted on our packs for the first time and headed to the campground. After the heat of packing I couldn’t resist a swim in the brisk water of Tenaya Creek which runs past the campground. With my goggles I was able to see fish and crawfish on the stream bottom – kinda neat.
With our camp set up, we figured we needed a warm up hike before our 5 days back country with full packs. We chose the Lower Yosemite Falls trail, which we thought was of similar steepness to the Snow Creek trail we’d be taking the following day. We started around 4PM and the late afternoon shade from the trees was welcome, but the trail was steep and rocky and consisted of mostly switchbacks. About 2 miles in the trail descends to a viewing area for the Lower Yosemite Falls. It’s an attractive falls but didn’t seem “amazing”, probably because there isn’t much water flowing in early August. A British couple asked us if we’d take their picture in front of the falls and I then asked them to take our photo with my camera. Somehow the camera strap got caught on my arm for a second and he sorta butter fingered it and my Canon G9 flew out of his hands and the viewing screen smashed on the rocky trail… He clearly felt horrible about it, and offered some money, which I refused. What can ya do… Ooof. Below you can see the last photo taken before the screen smashed. I’ve since learned that it is hard, or basically impossible to control a modern camera’s controls without a screen. We hiked down. At the end we both agreed it was challenging, basically a staircase leading up, but only took us about 3 hours to complete the 4 miles roundtrip.