One Hiker’s Yosemite Dream
UGA grad Todd Campbell went to San Francisco to work at a music festival this last August. When he realized he could take public transportation to Yosemite, he said, what the heck! Why not go hike 50 miles out there?! That’s just what he did, and here’s what he had to say about his experience:
What made you want to visit Yosemite?
I went to California to work Outsidelands Music Festival. Once I found out I could take public transport to Yosemite, I knew I had to go. I had taken a family trip there before, but they weren’t hikers. I wanted to experience more than driving your car through the park. I wanted to have an in-depth Yosemite experience.
Do you have any past experience taking a trip like this?
No, not quite like this. I did one overnight hiking trip through the University of Georgia Outdoor Recreation Club. We went to Blood Mountain. It was 5 miles in and out. That was in fall of 2014. They showed me the ropes and taught me about some of the essentials for taking an overnight hiking trip.
How did you prepare for this trip to Yosemite?
I had a hiking bag already and bought other things off of amazon. Actually the “frequently bought together” feature on amazon was pretty helpful in in my thought process about what supplies I needed. Also, the Yosemite website let me know what supplies I needed and regulations I needed to follow. Anyone will tell you that you’ll need a bear can for your food if your camping in Yosemite. It’s a requirement.
What resources were most helpful for you?
The Yosemite website with maps, trailheads, and distances of all the trails. I bought the National Geographic Trails Illustrated map of Yosemite, and it was a necessity. Also, when I called the reservation office to reserve my wilderness permit, I spoke to a park ranger that gave me the low-down. I had originally planned on going through Hetchetchy, but the ranger advised against that route because of the triple digit temperatures. He proceeded to help me hammer out some of the important details of my trip. I came with a vague idea, and he steered me into a rock solid itinerary. Rangers are a great resource if you can get ahold of them.
What was something that you were unprepared for once you got out there?
At some point I almost lost the trail. It just kind of disappeared into a dried up waterbed. I proceeded to try different directions in search of the trail while always returning to a safe spot on the trail that I had come in on. After a few attempts I found my way, but the experience was slightly startling. There aren’t many people out there, and there’s no cell service. If you get lost, you might be screwed.
What was the most difficult part of this trip for you?
Nevada falls on the last day, which spanned Little Yosemite valley to the valley floor. I left from Sunrise at about 10,000ft and hiked down to 5,000ft. I thought it would be easy going down hill, but it was not. I was physically exhausted and my feet were torn up pretty badly. I couldn’t stop, though. I still had to get down the hill and back to civilization.
Does any moment from this trip stand out to you in particular?
I camped at a place called Sunrise, and when the sun rose, I understood where it got the name. It reminded me of something out of Lord of the Rings. The campsite is up in the rocks above a big meadow and looked like Helms Deep or something. The best part-the sun beamed right in my face to wake me up in the morning. Ken Lakes was also picaresque. I felt wonderfully secluded lounging in my hammock there by the windy lake.
How did your time in Yosemite change your outlook moving forward?
When I was in the forest I could really focus on myself. There was a lot of time to think about my own life. You get back out into the city, and there is so much hustle and bustle (“noise” I like to call it) so you can’t focus on yourself. My time here gave me the tools to understand my quiet place so well that I can even construct in my mind. Habits like shopping, fiddling with my phone, and biting my nails happen because I’m not really paying attention to myself, but in the forest, all I think about is myself, my journey, and my mantras. Also, I saw a fox, and I take that as a sign of good things to come.
Are you planning any more trips in the future?
Well, I’m going to the Maker Faire in NYC to present “Solar Harness” a wearable solar powered phone charger that I’m inventing, but other outdoor adventures are sure to come. I’m always looking for opportunities to test my wearable prototype.
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