Have you ever taken-on a challenge knowing things might not go completely your way? That's essentially what happened on our latest trip to Yosemite. Unlike the previous two years, we failed to get a reservation at a camp site in Yosemite Valley. This was largely due to Bear being our logistics Ape, and he's in Italy! We decided to go ahead with the yearly trip, sans reservation, and take our chances with a first-come-first-serve camp site, the famous camp 4. Ape is Dapper x Dapper Apprentice...
We weren't alone this year. Our friend Gio joined us on this adventure! We took-off Friday evening, after fueling up for the 6 hour drive. A lot of great conversations and playlists happened during the drive. We hardly thought about not finding a space at the camp (clearly, we're all pretty damn optimistic).
Arriving at Camp 4...
We got to camp 4 at about 3:30 in the morning. It was dark, (believe it or not) we only had ONE freaking headlamp, it was cold AF, and to top it off, we couldn't find parking. The odds were definitely in our favor. After driving around the parking areas, we found a space where we kind-of fit, and two of us decided to own up to the cold and check the ranger stand. We must have read the sheet up and down 5 times, each time more and more hopeful (somehow), expecting a space to magically open. However, NOPE. We did understand the risk, though. We knew we would potentially have nowhere to stay...annnd that was the case.
Annnd then leaving Camp 4...
So, we decided to drive and think. Mind you, at 4AM and very sleepy. We drove down highway 140, and not on purpose...we definitely meant to drive in the direction we had come (highway 40). We concluded that we had 2 options: find a vacant lodge for the night, or sleep in the car in the cold. We tried the former first, but to no avail. The first lodge on the road was booked. We drove another few miles down, didn't find anything, so we turned around. By around 5Am we had decided to stay at the parking lot of the no-vacancy lodge. Our car was packed up Tetris style. Imagine "sleeping" like L blocks. "Sleeping" because we must have gotten between 30 minutes and a few hours of sleep (one of us actually got a few hours...bastard). We got up at around 6:30Am to one of us (you know who you are!) bolting out of the car with a cramp.
Back to Camp 4...
We still needed a place to stay, so we went back to Yosemite Valley, hoping a ranger could help us out. Problem was, though, they weren't anywhere to be seen until 8:30AM. We got an unsatisfying breakfast to kill time, and half-way through, thought to check back at Camp 4. Not sure if it's sheer luck, or this is just how Camp 4 works, but we got there at around 8 and found a registration line. Our thought: holy crap, there's spaces! We didn't really know this for sure until we got to the front, but we got a space! Now, before you go through what we did, check the tips/notes below:
Camp 4 Tips/Notes:
- Have a back-up plan, in case you arrive when we did. Be prepared to stay in your car, or find/reserve a lodge.
- When you see "arrive early" on other sites...they don't mean 3-4AM. Spots are usually filled by then, and there's only a few late check-in spots.
- We would suggest arriving between 6:30 and 8Am to be safe. That's when we got there, and the line only got bigger. Not sure how many people didn't get a spot.
- Odds are you will be sharing a camping spot. So get your friendly face on.
- To avoid all of this...make a reservation.
We still wanted to hike...
We didn't finish setting up until about 11AM. This was later than we had originally planned to start, but we weren't about to skip a hike. We got to the trail head of Upper Yosemite Falls at about 11:30AM and started up.
There wasn't much to say about the hike. Not because it wasn't spectacular, but because it's one of those things you have to see to really experience. Sure, we can go into some beautifully written speal about how beautiful Yosemite is. How it has a very unique smell of old soaked wood, pine, and...cinnamon (to someone from the city, that is.) And, that you can't turn a corner without being in awe...no matter how many times you've been there. Really, though, as popular as the place is, you have to admire and think about how it basically looks the same way it did who-knows-how-many years ago. Rocks blackened by year worths of water running down them, and scratches from glaciers that once based over them. Point is, come here. Experience what we experienced.
Now, this hike. It's not exactly an easy hike. It's one of the more strenuous ones in the Valley. The guides say it takes between 6-8 hours. We did it in 5. The Apes are more or less (less this time), accustomed to doing hikes like this by now. Gio and our friend Rudy, on the other hand, are not. It's a couple thousand feet of elevation gain in between 6 miles of hiking.
Believe in yourself...
Every person who is new to this outdoor life encounters that one hike that makes them question why they even started. To us, it was Mt. Baldy (San Antonio Mountains). That 14+ mile SOB killed us the first time. To Rudy and Gio, it was this one. We didn't exactly give them a warning either. Here's the thing, though. No matter how much you think you can do, you can always will yourself into more. Gio and Rudy knew this. As much as it might have hurt to push through the pain, they knew they had it in them. You have it in you. Take it a step at time. Time a quarter mile at time ;P (Ape Fast Ape Furious). No matter how you do it, keep pushing. A tip? Get to a point where you've gone too far to turn back. Push yourself, at least, to there. Because at this point, all you can do is take a breather, then keep going. Obviously we aren't talking about just hiking here. Apply this to everyday life. Push yourself until you can't anymore, until you get a cramp. Then what? You keep going. With the cramp. Complain all you want (I guess), just make sure you keep going. Is it worth it? You bet your ass it is. You like the view from the bottom? Well, let us tell you this: the view is always better at the top.
Take the risk...
It's very much like us to go somewhere with only an idea of what we're going to do. Hey, it's more fun that way. Try not to be afraid to do things. Understand the risks, and go. We say "try" because there's definitely been times when we know the risks and can't get ourselves to do something. For example, a man offered to let us slack line across Yosemite Falls when we got to the top, but we couldn't get ourselves to get on a rope 2 thousand feet above the valley. Hey, we're only Apes. It's okay, though. Maybe next time. This time, we took off on a 6 hour trip without knowing if we would even have a place to stay. At first, we didn't. Then, we did! We took the risk, and can say it was worth it. Taking the risk tends to be. If not, try again.
Thank you to anyone that made it to the bottom. Always much appreciated. You're awesome.
There's more to come from Gio and the Apes taking over Yosemite. We took dope outfits out there. Stay tuned!
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