PCT 2020 Days 16-17: Yosemite NP

Dirtbagging in Yosemite Valley

Ending Elevation = 3,950 (off-PCT)

Elevation Range = 3,950 – 6,100

Beginning Elevation = 6,100 (off-PCT)

Weather: Just lovely

Day 16 –

It wasn’t long after getting going in the morning that we found ourselves at the top of Nevada Falls. We’d all been here before having done a day hike together to this point last year. It’s quite a lovely setting and so we took a long break. I believe we got our first bit of cell service here too and remember having to take care of some stuff for my upcoming graduate school semester.

We also got to witness filming of a new backpacking free solo documentary…

Winding our way down the John Muir Trail towards Yosemite Valley we eventually joined the Mist Trail and soon were surrounded by people! Being secluded in the wilderness and then popping out back into civilization is always a bit strange, but especially so during the Covid state of things. We kept our distance and covered up out faces just to be on the safe side.

Once down in the valley, we talked with the Wilderness Ranger permitting folks to see if we could land a Half Dome permit, but once again it eluded us. They did let us stay in the backpackers camp for a night though, which was amazing! The shuttle bus system wasn’t operating in the park, so it was a lot of walking to get around in the valley. It’s a pretty big place. Compared to the year prior, it all seemed calmer with less noise from the buses and cars.

First up on our to-do list was a dirtbag laundry session utilizing our bear cans as wash machines!

The rest of the day was spent trying to figure out our plans and method of transportation getting back to the trail. I believe we also did battle with a squirrel or chipmunk that was attempting to steal our food as well. Essentially we were hoping to book a YARTs bus up to Tuolumne Meadows in a day or so and resume our trek north, but there was some difficulty with scheduling, meaning it was looking like we’d have to spend longer in Yosemite Valley than originally thought. Shucks, right?

That evening we did some walking around the various meadows with Cheer as our guide… just a splendid place. It’s grown to be one of the those special places for me that soothes the soul!

From this point forward in my 2020 PCT trail journaling, I’ll be creating the posts more than one and a half years after the events, so some memories will have faded somewhat sadly. I still think it’ll be fun to piece together my foggy recollections with the photos though, so giving it a shot 🙂

Day 17 –

With the above little caveat in mind, I’m not really sure what we got up to the next day. I do remember there was some decision making involved and stress that accompanied it. In the end, we managed to make a plan of staying another night, this time upgrading to a motel room in the park, and busing out the next day. Although the room was pricey, it was one of those times when after making the decision, we all immediately felt a sense of stress released and an understanding came over us that we needed the room to regroup and rejuvenate!

Around mid afternoon, after the sun had been out long enough to warm us up some, we opted for a nice swim/float in the mighty river Merced. It wasn’t all that deep, so we developed a method of walking upstream and slowly floating down a ways before repeating the process…

And of course, we stocked up on snacks for the motel that night. We ended up that evening playing some more Texas Hold’em, continuing our method of betting various unpopular trails tasks/duties. Things got heated for sure.

And ended the night having a ton of fun messing around taking star pictures outside our room along the meadow path. All photo credit goes to Calzone, the mastermind behind these artistic beauties! There so great, I decided to include them all…

Photography ahead of her time I’m thinking.

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