Friday, June 04, 2004

The Yosemite 7, Recap

I finally started putting up the thing I started this blog to put up: my notes about my trip to Yosemite with 6 friends. We left the evening of 5/20 and came back the next Tuesday, 5/25. We had a great time. Did some hiking, drinking, laughing, etc. Oh, and we spent 4 nights in one of (perhaps the best of) Nature's Cathedrals, as Chris called it at some point. I've put up my notes from the first two days, so far: 5/21 and 5/22. I figure it'll probably take me another few days to get the rest of it transcribed. I'm editing a little bit as I do it, but not too much. Adding a little detail, but, again, not much. Mostly, it's faithful to what I wrote at the time.

Some background. In 1996, Dan and John and I went to Yosemite for a few days with some other friends (Kevin and Eddie are the two I can remember right now). We went the weekend after Memorial Day, which was still before non-college kids were out of school. It was pretty nice. I imagine that the campsites were pretty much full, as they were this time, but there were not all that many day visitors; same this time. It was wonderful.

That year, I was sick while we were camping, and we did the Mist Trail & Nevada Falls one day and Upper Yosemite Falls trail the next. I'd been getting better, finally, but then the Mist Trail kinda sent me backsliding and hiking up the highly exposed Yosemite Falls trail in 90 degree temps was really tough. Maybe borderline stupid. I went through a liter and a half of water (didn't have Camelbacks back then, much less the 3L I have now) on the way up. There was no one up there with a filter, and I was desperate for water. We'd decided already that night was going to be our evening of alcohol and pizza at Camp Curry, and most of my friends gave Dan (or John, I can't remember which now, nor even who told me I was wrong when I mentioned it this trip) and me basically all the water they all had and then they hightailed it down into the Valley. I think Dan (or John) and I took about 40 minutes more than they did, and there were daquiris and pizza waiting for us when we got there.

I went back later that summer with some other friends, from work, and stayed at the Housekeeping Camp. Housekeeping is awful. I don't know if I'd ever stay there again, even if it were the only way to get into the Valley. Well, maybe then. The sites are terrible - basically three walls forming an H with wall-mounted cots in the alcoves. The cots creaked at the slightest movement. The camp is very crowded, and there's electricity, so there are people in open air with hair dryers, boom boxes, blenders (OK, I might not mind that part so much as long as there's rum or tequila to go in them), etc. Ugh. It was also August or September, so very dusty, hot, and dry.

The next time I went back was early in 1999, maybe even in March. There was still some snow on the ground, even in the valley, though not much. The meadows were mostly still ponds or lakes. I remember getting some postcard quality pictures of reflections in the ponds. Will have to find them one day soon, I think. Went with my friend Amber; I don't remember particularly why Dawn didn't go with me. I'm pretty sure I invited her; I think we had JUST started dating (as opposed to seeing eachother with friends). Amber and I stayed in one of the cabins (not a tent) in Curry, for just one night. We played cards until late with the heater on making an incredible racket. We turned it off before going to bed. BIG mistake. Should never have chosen quiet over heat, because by 3 or so I had to get up and turn it on. No, wait... it was still too noisy, so I just put on some more clothes. Amber made some noise indicating she was awake, to which I said, as I got back in bed "are you cold". Yes. "Then come over here." We spent the next three or four hours shivering together, but were a little warmer.

This time, the group was Chris, Dan, Daniel, Dave, Frank, John, and me. I've known John and Daniel since, at least, 7th grade, and they've known eachother longer still. 5th grade, I think. John's mom still calls me his little friend, in spite of the fact that I'm 6'4" and there are doors and light fixtures in her house that I have to duck under. Daniel's mom doesn't call me his little friend as far as I know, but she was marvelling over meeting my daughter. She exaggerated slightly when she told Rachel that she's known me since I was Rachel's size.

Daniel is an aspiring film professor and screen writer. He's made one movie on a shoestring budget; haven't seen it, but I know some of the people in it, and I remember discussing with him ways one might plausibly attempt to get a cat from the East Bay to Alcatraz Island while swimming. Putting it in a plastic bag never seemed like a good way, unless you didn't care whether it was alive or dead at the end. Or whether it ripped you to shreds in its frantic, enraged efforts to escape from your lunacy.

John has a civil engineering degree and, I think, is one of the smartest people of my generation that I've ever met. I suppose that doesn't say all that much, but he's damned smart. He's working in IT for our friend Jim, whom I met & introduced him to when I was working for a large gas & electric company, which shall otherwise remain nameless. I often wonder why he doesn't go back to engineering or something more academic, but he seems to be happy with the work.

Dave is John's cousin, a police officer (I don't think he likes the term 'cop' although I certainly don't use it with any less respect than 'police officer') in Santa Monica. He's very nice, ultra-laid back. Didn't seem to tire of our endless questions about being a police officer.

Dan is an aspiring lawyer, who's having a little trouble with the bar. It's certainly not his knowledge or intelligence; seems to be the essays. We've been debating, Dan and I, the merits of the essay portion of the California bar exam. According to the Bar, the essays are, in fact, graded in part on the ability to convey the information, as well as the information itself. Based on Dan's description of the methods the graders use (gleaned I believe from his tutor who IS a grader), it sounds as if all they really have time to do is to skim the essay looking for key points. If there are enough of the key points, you get a good score. If not, not. My feeling is that the format is flawed; if they're just going for the key points, just have the examinees enter them in list form and have a computer do the grading based on the number of correct and incorrect entries; if, on the other hand, they want to grade on writing ability, then they need to DO that or else the essay is just getting in the way of finding the key points. Anyway, we're really bummed that Dan didn't pass this time, and hoping he will next time. I've known him since 10th grade.

Frank is Dan's college roommate, or one of, and is presently out of work. He was last doing some insurance work but wants to be in the foreign service. He and Dan have done a lot of traveling together, including several months in Africa. Cool guy. Would be nice if he lived up here, instead of LA; we'd see him more. Of course, he and his wife are talking about moving to Azerbaijan (I think), so we may see even less of him.

Last, but not least, Chris is currently working for a large gambling equipment manufacturer biding his time while doing some teaching and writing and paying off some debt and such. I've only known Chris for 4 or 5 years, but he's a great friend. Met him originally soon after he got married to Dawn's friend & co-worker Karolyn. They've since divorced and he lives in Reno now. We love them both & wish he lived closer so we could see him more often. It was great to see him in Yosemite; I don't think I'd seen him since last August.

Originally, this was supposed to be an annual trip, with Dan and John and me at the core. In fact, we're now calling it our 9th Annual Yosemite Camping Adventure. Just because the other 7 got cancelled (or were never set up) doesn't mean this isn't the 9th, does it?

You know, it's really late now, so I'm going to leave it at that. I'll have more commentary on the trip after I post some more of my notes from it.

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