Day 4: Up up and away we go

Stars and Half Dome.

Day 4:  As we all start to emerge from our tents the cool air and mental realization that today we start our hike bring emotions high.  After a quick pack up of the tents and reorganization of our packs things get moving.  As I joked yesterday about doing our nails….. I really did this morning!  The day before I left Florida for this trip I rammed my toe into a stairway and was pretty sure I fractured it from being purple ever since.  To reduce the pain on this 3 day hike I trimmed my toe nail on that toe down to nothing.  Half the crew go after the permits at the ranger station for our hike up to Half Dome and the other start another official breakfast.  We drive out of our campsite about 10:30 and park at the hiker parking area.  Everyone is ready and we start at 11 a.m.  Not bad but with 9 people things take time. The hike up to the Little Yosemite Valley base camp is about 4.5 miles and gain about 2,000+ ft.

About 1.5 hours into day one with Half Dome far off in the distance.

We start at a pretty fast pace through the traffic of tourists and everyone does pretty well at keeping up.  The first part goes up quick but is actually a paved path because of all the foot traffic.  We take the one of two routes up to camp that is a little longer but less steep and less stairs.

Nate stopping to record a memory with his trusty phone.

Stopping and enjoying the scenery on the way I start to realize is not a high priority with this crew at certain times.  Once everyone starts to tire out the pace stays steady  and the enjoyment of taking in the scenery gets reduced.  Kinda backwards but mentally it is better to just keep going…. but for me, I really like to enjoy it all and take a couple pics, which means stopping and getting my camera out along with taking off my pack.  We reach Nevada falls in great time and eat a late lunch while taking in the impressive view and courageous squirrels trying to get into our packs.

Everyone checking out Nevada falls.

The campground is only about a mile from here, so its a quick little hike on relatively flat ground to enjoy the rest of our day.  We grab a spot in the back of the primitive designated tent area and start calling out our areas to put up the tents.  It already has about 8 cut stumps for chairs and huge sliced wood saucer for a rugged but useful “kitchen table.”

Scott contemplating his next move.

As we are all drinking up our water supply its time to find some more, which means locating the nearby river and filtering out some fresh water.  The first thing Scott and I think of is putting some boardshorts on and jumping in the frigid mountain water while we also get some water.  I bring my camera to more or less cherish the kodak moment rather that get a cool pic.  First up is Scott and he sits there taking forever getting up the motivation to get in.  With everyone waiting, I couldn’t anymore and told him, ” I am putting the cam down and jumping in myself!”  Belly flopped into the river for a nice refreshing wake up call and shock to my body…..but boy did it feel great!  Filled up our water containers and head back to camp for a relax and to build the tents.

Setting up camp at Little Yosemite Valley.  On the right is our mansion.

Oh, he did eventually get in, but reduced his man card points.  While they all play cards I head out on a hike to scope out the nights spot to shoot a landscape and the stars.

Researching where to shoot at night.

Once again, looking for an open area to see Half Dome.  A full moon is not easy to shoot stars in because it lights up the sky.  Not too far away is a huge open slab of rock that gives a great perspective on the backside of Half Dome.  After taking a few test shots, I head back to camp where everyone has there jetfoils ( a portable mini cup to heat up or boil liquid) going and cooking dehydrated dinner meals.  I get my Pad Thai….. yeah dehydrated, and get to boiling water to mix in with it.  I was impressed, pretty good!  Not a bad meal especially when your hungry!  After dinner, I showed everyone my spot for a nice view as the sun went down. We head back to camp and goof off for a bit while I wait for it to get dark.  Head back over in the complete darkness wondering constantly what is around each corner or cave.  Shoot some longer exposures and call it after about 20 mins. The slab of rock seemed a little unstable for me to be standing on without much vision so I decide to go back and get rest.  Well, no one was about to go to bed because it was only 630.

Getting water from the river via MSR filters.

We all had to go back in the dark to get more water for the next days 11.5 mile hike and then hang out listening to Nate and his stories with hiking water…. Jim Beam.