Part Three: We arrived in California on July 6th, 2009 seemingly ready, excited and a little apprehensive. We had decided to spend several days with my sister and brother-in-law in Bishop. Bishop is located on the northern end of Owens Valley, situated between the Sierras to the west and the White Mountains to the east. Our stay here would give us time to visit but also time to get acclimated to the altitude and to get some last minute advice on our climb. During our stay, we planned on quizzing both my sister Kay and her husband, Horst, about the times that they had lived in Yosemite and more specifically about when they had made this climb we were about to attempt.
Kay and Horst were able to give us much better descriptions of the route. In our pre-planning, we had intended to hit the trailhead by no later than 6:30 am, but Horst suggested that we plan on leaving from our encampment by 4:30 am so as to reach the trailhead by 5:00 am. In the meantime, a friend of Horst was called in for more up to date info as he had recently been to Yosemite. He informed us that at this time of year the route was getting crowded and there were actually log jams on the cables making them slow but also more dangerous. His suggestion was to be at the trailhead no later than 4:00 am to beat the crowds. This meant a 3:30 am start. It was starting to look like we might as well skip sleeping all together.
On our second day in Bishop, Horst, as mentioned previously, agreed to hike us up on Mt Tom where we could get up to some higher elevations. This would test our legs, lungs and our mettle. What ensued was a great chance to not only see some incredible scenery, but the opportunity to test out our gear and our hiking ability as we continuously climbed on the trail eventually reaching the glacier at 10,000 feet of elevation. Hike accomplished, now we were really ready and chomping at the bit to get going.
Day three found us entering the park and taking the two hour drive across Tuolumne Meadows and eventually down to the Valley Floor. Our entrance to the Valley did not disappoint. There was Half Dome looming high above us, just daring us to try. After longing glances at its huge granite half dome features and Half Dome’s prominent beak like overhang, we headed to our encampment in Yosemite Village.
Our accommodations consisted of a canvas tent placed on a raised deck. We had cots to sleep on, but that was the extent of the amenities. In a way this was okay. Considering our wake up time would be around 3:15 am, we at least wouldn’t be giving up a comfortable bed begging us to keep sleeping.
Before hitting our cots, we packed all our gear and food into the bear box situated just outside of our tent. This necessity only added to our anxiety, all we would need is to be raided by a bear if not eaten by one sometime in the night. This thought alone was enough to keep us awake but we were given even more to think about when just about the time we were dozing off, a family noisily passed near our tent. As fate would have it, or stupidity, we clearly heard them drop their cooler of food only to hear the father say, “just leave it, we can’t eat it now anyway.” Oh, but we were sure the bears would be interested. Needless to say, between the anticipation, the uncomfortable cots, and every little noise that for sure had to be a bear, 3:15 am rolled around without a whole lot of sleep having been accomplished.
To be continued…………