To read Part I, click HERE
I woke up early the next day, our first morning in the Yosemite backcountry. The rising and setting of the sun dictate daily habits out here so first light was my cue to get out of my sleeping bag. It had cooled off overnight and at this early hour only a few rays of sunlight were penetrating through the trees to our campsite.
I stepped outside of my tent and began the morning routine. Walk down to the river to get some water. Back to camp. Set up the stove and put on a pot of river water. Breakfast out here was almost always the same; Oatmeal, granola, and peanut butter alongside a cup of Starbucks instant coffee. It’s hot, filling, and takes minutes to make. Whatever backpacking innovations come in the next 100 years, I doubt that anyone will be able to improve on the oatmeal breakfast.
I found myself a widening patch of sunlight and sat down to eat. Before long everyone was up and moving around camp. The morning conversation turned to the unexpected developments from the day before.
What is to Be Done?
“I think that Matt and I should go back down to find my parents.” Sarah suggested. “They have a lot of our food plus the map.”
When we left yesterday it hadn’t seemed important to pay attention to who was carrying what. We took it for granted that after our hike we would all be in the same place. Now that only four of us had arrived we found several key items were missing.
“That’s fine with us,” replied Monica. “I’d like a day of rest after that hike yesterday.” She looked down at the heel of her bare foot, chafed raw from the nonstop uphill march the other day.
Sam nodded in agreement. “Sure. I can get the hammocks set up and maybe check out the area with Monica.” he said.
Sam and Monica were both strong and experienced hikers, but everyone was suffering a little bit from the previous day. They agreed to take care of camp chores so that Sarah and I could descend down the trail and get some information on her parents.
Sarah and I started preparing for our hike back down the mountain. I emptied my backpack of everything except for a few essential day hike items; Snacks, sunscreen, and several liters of water.
We got moving early to beat the midday sun. Moving downhill with light packs made the hike down feel like nothing. We breezed past the peak of Chilnualna Falls and made quick work down the switchbacks. At this rate we would be back at the parking area in just a couple hours.
Suddenly out in front of us a lone hiker waved and called out in our direction. He had trekking poles and a large pack and was moving steadily up the trail towards us. It was Tom!
“Hey I came up to bring you your food! I’ve got your stuff that was in our packs,” he said.
I couldn’t believe it. Tom had gotten an early start than us and had nearly made it up to our campsite. He approached us with a big smile and Sarah gave her dad a hug.
“Thank you so much for coming up, I was worried about you and mom all last night,” Sarah said.
Tom smiled from ear to ear, clearly glad to see that we hadn’t suffered from lack of supplies.
“C’mon we’ll lead you to our campsite,” said Sarah. “It’s just a little ways up the trail.”
Back at our campsite, Tom had a drink of water and a bite to eat.
“You kids sure picked a good one.” He looked around with satisfaction at the campsite we had found.
Tom explained to us that the previous days hike had been much harder than he or Sue had expected. The very first bit of trail had been an unusually steep section running right next to a cascading waterfall.
“I think that unnerved your mother a little bit,” Tom explained to Sarah.
We all nodded in understanding as Tom continued with the story:
“I took her water and tennis shoes in my bag after that that but then my pack weighed damn near 100 pounds! When we stopped for a break I just about tipped over. That’s when your mother and I decided to turn back.”
It occurred to me that Chilnualna Falls may have been so easy to get because of the difficulty in getting up. I probably should have done a little but more research before reserving here.
We all thanked Tom and sent him back down the mountain with some of our unwanted items. Before parting we arranged a rendevous point so that we could meet up again on our way out of the backcountry. With that we were once again on our own at the top of Chilnualna Falls.