Vacation Map and plans

Vacation Map, Aug. 2013

Normally, I am not a procrastinator. However, for this vacation I seem to have waited until nearly the 11th hour to even start getting ready for this year's month long trip into California. But, I have now been diligently forging ahead getting myself and my gear organized and otherwise preparing for my departure on Thursday, August 1. 

Initially, the information about bears in Yosemite in the High Sierra Mountains (where I will be for the first half of my trip), gave me a moment or two (or three or more) of pause. And that concern sort of stifled my ambition about going exploring, but advice from Mark Howard who has hiked in Yellowstone, has helped set my mind at ease about any entanglements with those wild creatures. Each hiker on this venture is also given a can of bear spray and food is to be stored in bear proof lockers which is supposed to deter their curiosity. Last thing I want to find upon returning to my car is to find the doors ripped off and the interior shredded to smithereens (which bears have the innate ability to do).

In one spare bedroom, spread out on the bed are all the things I plan to pack in my backpack. The outfitter in Yosemite that manages the backpacking and horseback trips have sent me lists of things I should include in my pack, so that should, seemingly, make it easier for me. Though I have a lot of stuff, including clothes, hiking shoes, sandals, toiletries, medications, books, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, flashlight, cameras, binoculars, etc, etc waiting to find their place in the pack, I know I'll have to minimize so that I am not overloaded. A couple of experienced hikers have suggested that a couple pair of underwear is sufficient, as are shirts and pants. I'll just have to wash them out as needed in lake waters where we camp over the week. 

Getting to the backpack I have, it was purchased when I lived in Ann Arbor, MI. and I used it twice, sometime back then. When I got the pack off the shelf and opened it I found a camping permit from a overnight backpack trip to the Porcupine Mountains in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. I was very surprised to see the date on the permit - July 1, 1990, yeah, really! 1990, 23 years ago!  I have used a day pack/ruck sack for most of the hiking I have done since, which basically meets the needs of a day hike, but on this weeklong venture into the wilds of nature, the much larger backpack is a necessity. I'll just have to forego packing the cha cha shoes, disco duds and  boom box so that I take only the essentials for this trek, I guess. Can you picture it? Me dancing with the bears? Nah, me ether. 

Here is the Cliff's Notes version of my itinerary: 

Thursday, Aug. 1, I'll drive as far as Pahrump, NV and find a motel there. I'll pass through Las Vegas on the way but have no intention of stopping there. Second day will find me driving right up through Death Valley, CA. on Badwater Road. That sounds ominous, I guess, but not as foreboding as Furnace Creek or Funeral Mountains, also in Death Valley. Third day I arrive at Toulemme Meadows in Yosemite National Park. I'm renting a canvas tent for one night there. That one night should start to acclimate me to the higher elevation. Then Sunday, 8/4, the backpacking trip begins. Each night we will spend at established High Sierra Camps staying in canvas dormitory style tents. All food will be prepared for the hikers. Each night is spent at a lake at the camps. The trip ends on Saturday, 8/10 when we return to Toulemme Meadows. One overnight there, again in a rented tent, then Sunday, 8/11 the horseback trip begins. We spend 4 days on the trail, at three of the same lakes I visited the week before. But this portion of the trip will have a different vantage point from atop the horse (or mule), and without carrying a backpack. Returning to Yosemite camp I will stay two more nights in a rented tent cabin and explore around the most visited sights in the park. The following week will find me driving down through the forests to King's Canyon National Park, where I'll wing it, camping and exploring for several days. Then I'll keep going south to Sequoia National Forest to camp and walk amongst the tall Sequoia trees. I have no set schedule for King's Canyon or Sequoia, but that should take up most of the third week. Depending on how I feel and what other adventures lure me, I should probably be heading home to Phoenix the last week of August. 

Mark brought over a couple of his backpacks and it looks like I will use his internal frame pack with a 2 liter water bladder included in it. (It looks like his pack is larger and has more bells and whistles than the one I have). The water bladder, a collapsible plastic, refillable water container has a long attached tube which will allow me to sip water along the trail without having to take off my pack and dig out water bottles. I'll take along at least one of my water bottles just the same, in case I happen to drink more than 2 liters. Keeping hydrated is paramount in having a good experience hiking or being exposed and exerting oneself in the outdoors, just as it is living here in the desert. 

Monday morning my Hyundai Santa Fe will get serviced at the dealership which should assure everything is in tip top working order. One of the greatest hardships on the car will be the drive right up through Death Valley where the temperatures could reach above 120°. I'm not planning to speed in that heat and will be keeping a watchful eye on my car's gauges. I'm hopeful that both car and driver will survive unscathed and then enjoy the rest of the drive up into the Sierra Nevada Mountains. 

According to Google Maps, this trip, as is, will tally up to 1720+ miles. It is sure to be more as I'll certainly be taking side trips and go exploring in unplanned areas.