Yosemite/Emigrant Diaries: Back to Backcountry

Sept. 25, 2015: From Yosemite Valley to Emigrant Wilderness Area

Mileage: 8.45 miles

21782475439_20fb29f381_oWe woke up early, before the sun had fully risen, and packed up the rest of our stuff into our backpacks. It was time to return to the backcountry.  After grabbing some tea, coffee, and pastries from Curry Village, we started the drive to Emigrant Wilderness Area, our destination. Emigrant is part of Stanislaus National Forest and shares a border with Yosemite on the north side of the park. We stopped at the Summit ranger station to get our backcountry permit, then parked our car at the trailhead and said goodbye to it for a week.

Early into our hike, I started to not feel super great. It could have been the wine from the night before, the lack of sleep (I tossed and turned for some reason), the altitude (we were starting out higher than the top of where we’d been in Yosemite), the uphill climb with a full week’s worth of food in my pack, or a combo of all of the above. We decided to take it easy and stopped at the closest water source, Bear Lake. It turned out to be a picturesque spot with lots of rock formations and trees, as well as a good place for Kurt to fish.

21781522458_a32ff93670_oWe found a flat area for our tent and set it up, but the ground was too rocky for us to be able to drive in our tent stakes. Kurt had devised a solution:  threading sticks with a ‘L’ shape through the tent loops, catching them in the crook, then weighing them down with rocks. A wind had picked up, so Kurt tossed our sleeping bags and pads inside the tent while we scavenged for rocks. I was about 25 feet away searching for supplies when I heard Kurt shout, then turned to see our tent go flying off the ledge, tumbling towards the lake!! My heart leapt into my throat at the thought of our tent and gear plunging into the freezing water. Kurt chased after it, the corner of a rain fly just slipping through his fingers before rolling down onto the next rock ledge, the last one before the water. Luckily, it was slowed down by a clump of bushes and Kurt was able to scramble down and grab it, saving it from the drink. I climbed down to help him carry everything back up, then we surveyed the damage. There was a new, small tear in our rain fly, but luckily for us (not so much for the drought-ridden state of California), there was zero forecast of rain for the week.

After our close call, we used sticks and rocks to make sure the tent was nice and secure. For good measure, I put one of our heavy packs inside as well. Finally, we got to relax. Kurt fished in the lake while I read my book on a rock. He caught a small rainbow trout, but it was too small so he threw it back. We had dinner on the rocks while watching the moon rise.

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