Today's miles: 16
Total miles: 958
Katie and I packed up this morning and went down to the Tuolumne Meadows store one last time. We had breakfast, chatted with Papa Bear and his niece, and tried to pretend we weren't stalling just so we could say goodbye to our friends one last time. We had a deadline to meet, though, and we knew we needed to hike an average of 15-18 miles in the next four days to make it to Sonora Pass on time.
Reluctantly we left Yosemite at noon, leaving behind old friends. Once again Katie and I were hiking by ourselves, and it felt strange. It was too quiet and lonely in the woods. Too many thru-hikers were taking a zero in Yosemite Valley, so the only people we met on trail were sweet-smelling tourists. We were silent and morose as we trod along the path through the park. It was hot and humid and it was difficult to get into the rhythm of hiking again. We stopped several times in the first few hours to jump into small lakes and rivers to cool off, but the experience was odd - we felt like we were breaking some kind of societal rule because we were surrounded by so many dayhikers in their swim suits and picnic lunches, and here we were in our underwear trying to get cool. Even peeing in the woods felt forbidden, somehow, and I wished we were out of the park for good. I needed to be back in my world of trees and mountains and away from a world where people camped in their RVs for the weekend and pretended they were "roughing it."
After six miles we passed a small resort campsite called Glen Aulin, and after that, the number of tourists we passed drastically dwindled. Apparently hiking six miles to camp was as far as most people got. It was a relief to be on our own again, but it made our lack of hiking companions even more apparent. Katie and I made small talk and pretended we didn't already miss the company of Sansei, Rotisserie and Papa Bear.
After a few hours we ran into TwoBadDogs taking a break. They were the first people we had seen in ages, and it was a relief to be in the company of old friends again. We had known TwoBadDogs since the early days in the desert, but never really had the pleasure of hiking in tandem with them. We discovered their real names were Lynn and Art (an older married couple whose trail name defined both of them) and that they were avid birders. It was fun hearing them get excited over bird noises and sightings, and Katie and I quizzed them about the birds we had been seeing in the past few weeks.
"What's that bird that makes this noise: 'cheese--bur--ger...'?" we asked.
Lynn laughed. "That's a mountain chickadee."
The four of us had dinner together near a stream, 13 miles into our trek. We decided to push on another mile or two past the next river ford and try to find a campsite together. Katie and I went on ahead and crossed two different fords before finding a camp spot in the woods. We waited for TwoBadDogs, but they must have camped a little earlier, because they didn't join us. It was the first time Katie and I had camped alone together since Wrightwood, and we found it was much too quiet and lonely.