I was talking to my brother last week about my decision not to climb the Salathe route, and he told me a story with an important moral- don’t take yourself too seriously. As usual, it was just what I needed to hear.
The past 3 days alone in the Yosemite high country were pretty much sublime. I didn’t ski anything gnarly (actually, I never even took my skins off), climb anything tall (or technical), and honestly didn’t really know quite where I was for most of Thursday afternoon (not quite the plan, but it worked out). Some of these decisions were enforced- solo backcountry skiing involves managing a wide variety of serious and complicated objective hazards and may be one of the more dangerous things I’ve done since leaving Portland. At the same time, it may have been one of the most relaxed and simplest parts of my trip thus far.
Wednesday afternoon I quickly packed 3 days of food and headed up Snow Creek, incidentally the same trail Aaron and I had hiked last Sunday, but not without the purpose that it was the fastest way out of the valley. I hit the snowline just before dark and set up camp on one of the last piece of dry ground I had seen on my previous hike. Obviously, I was expecting my feet to give me some trouble, and while I did have some trouble on Thursday, I didn’t take things too seriously. I traveled when I could, I took breaks and iced my foot when I needed to. I only had two goals for my time in the backcountry- 1) figure out how ready I am for Denali, and 2) see as much as I comfortably could. Simple. I had a tentative goal of skiing all the way to Tuolomne Meadows, but opted to take a longer route north of Tioga Pass road and see more of the high country. It was good practice in releasing the goal oriented mentality that has been driving my trip lately. Despite the longer route and some foot trouble Thursday, I still made it to a great camp just below Fairview Dome.
I spent most of Friday cruising west on Tioga Pass road, and then cut south at the Porcupine Creek Trailhead. I was pleased that except for a few hours on Thursday afternoon, my ability to navigate in the winter backcountry based only on topo map, compass, and visible landforms worked extremely well (approximately half of the 36 miles I covered were off-trail/road). I’ll let the photos tell the rest of the story, but needless to say, I feel renewed in the most important ways, and ready to make the best of my remaining time in the valley. In the end, I didn’t take myself too seriously, and am back in the valley feeling wonderfully pleased with the result.
And, I’ve decided to go to Alaska early, to get in 3 extra weeks of alpine climbing based on the Kahiltna Glacier!
(I still can’t figure out how to get the photos to order properly… I’ll fix this while waiting out rain tomorrow)