Writer’s Rock

My winter life is nothing but boring. In fact, it’s probably a good measure more interesting to read about than my summer life, i.e. hiking and canyoneering. But the winter does something to me, it stops me, makes me silent, blocks the words from flowing. It’s like for all that’s going on my life feels less worthy of talking about. To put in another way: I get depressed. So depressed I don’t really want to hang out or talk to anybody, or write. I haven’t talked to my family, any of them, in about two months, and if you’ve been paying attention to the blog you know I haven’t written anything either. Well, today was a typical day save for a few clutch rocks, and I’m going to write that, if only to get things flowing.

I caught one of the first gondola cabins up the mountain and headed out across the soft powder on my favorite board, a big, long and unequivocally beat-to-hell k2 from four years ago that can only be ridden in powder like this because of all of the metal, wood and plastic that is peeling off of it. The day was bright, and I mean really bright, compared to the short wintery-day darkness that we’ve been living through up here in the Colorado Rockies, and that makes riding powder like this a dream. I checked all of my favorite spots sequentially as I headed to the very back of the resort, and after a couple runs the back bowls opened so I did a short hike and checked them out. Good, but not great, so I headed back toward the front to look somewhere else. From the chair I saw sparse trees and no tracks and made an unusual detour into an area I usually avoid. One run, then another, then another. It was great. Other people saw what I was doing from the chair and started to follow. I launched the big rock underneath the chair lift. I hiked to the top of a big cliff and realized it was one I’d never summitted to before. Or dropped off of. I climbed beneath an old gnarly pine and took a peek. I sat down, relaxed, strapped in. I stood up and took a deep breath. I had plotted exactly the track my snowboard should leave: a gentle curve toward the downhill, to depart the pillowy, mounded snow on the big rocks just below a small ridge that was (presumably) a jagged rock fin. I took a deep breath and followed the track that wasn’t yet there right to the pillow’s edge and then I was free. For that split second. Sailing. In that moment nothing else matters. Not the take off, not the landing, not the rock and not me. For that split second I am happy. And that split second lasted a long time. I began to realize two things: 1, that cliff was about 50% taller than it had looked from the top; and, 2, the wind-drift gap between rock and snow at the bottom was really a hole large enough to consume me if I had gone any slower. Close call. And I forgot about landing. The snow approached and I set the board down and felt the crust underneath the thin, south-facing powder layer, and I let myself fall limply onto my back. It didn’t matter. Nobody was watching and I wasn’t planning to tell anyone about it anyway. I looked back and saw that i had taken off next to a jagged rock fin, and had landed on the edge of the wind drift hole at the cliff’s base.

After that 15′ cliff I was pumped. I hiked to one of my favorite areas and found myself on top of a cliff I’d jumped many times last year. I jumped it again and the ensuing high-speed descent was thrilling. Powder just thick enough to cover rocks and down trees embedded in the hardened crust below. Sometimes you’d be gliding over the rocks, feeling them scraping below, getting bumped around by nubs and limbs on dead trees below, and that is a very exciting feeling. Man against nature. The snowboard is the tool that directs and transports you, shields you from harsh terrain below, floats you across depths otherwise impassable, but only if you know how to ride it. You have to know how to commit, to know your ability and to trust in it. Then you go. Places you can’t go any slower, you can’t drop any smaller, rocks you can’t avoid and excitement you wouldn’t trade for anything. On the second run I ended up on a rocky ridge. I mad a fun descent of several small rocks and found myself inside two bands of cliffs. I saw two guys below with their skis off. Then I saw more, but I only glanced. I continued my descent through sharp granite. I was riding along the top of one cliff, walled in by another, with them below. I paused my pumping music. “How does it look?” I asked. It was only out of respect, for I knew exactly how it looked and I knew by the lack of any tracks that they had not ridden it. “Not good,” was the ok for me to turn my music back on. I put my hands behind me and leaned back, inching down lightly over exposed rocks until I was back on ridable snow and quickly I came to my spot. This is the beauty of not stopping, not scouting, not thinking twice. This is the thing that both makes my life amazing and miserable. I sailed off the cliff. Maybe it is 10 feet high, or maybe 15. Freedom and excitement rushed through me again. Muted cheers drift into my ears and took me out of the moment just a little. I touched down gently, the snow was softer down here in this shadowy valley, and a rush of speed came over me. I shot down through the trees and off of more rocks with powder flying and music pumping. A hit here, a hit there. I never looked back. I ran to the bus, went home and ate, then went to work. I didn’t say anything, and nobody asked. Today was for me.

“It was so god awful and normal…”

Dad and I had talked 78 minutes. We talked about my trip and each of our health, the dogs and the new fence, and we updated each other on everything that life was like at the moment. And I wasn’t angry with him. I’d called three times now, and I all three times I was very angry with him. It was his fault my sister had died, I kept thinking. It was because of this that I didn’t call him right after it happened. If I had, I’d have apologized today, and that would have been awful. Anyway, he didn’t answer any of those three times. Talknig to him now, he’s had as a rougher time than anyone. Says he can’t sleep, but he’s having happy dreams. It’s just that he wakes every hour or so some nights. He got a prescription, so those nights he takes a Xanax. One of my sister’s favorite drugs. My dead sister. The drug I always kept around but never enjoyed enough to take recreationally. I hated the feeling of coming off of Xanax the next day. Flexaril was much better and had the same effects for me.

I told him the dreams I’d been having. Dreams that are so intense and real that they seem to have lasted all night, at least, if that hadn’t actually happened in real life. And they couldn’t have. In my dreams it was sunny, but I know that outside it was just a cold dark night like every winter night here in the mountains. I would sit with someone, someone I can’t remember, and I would talk about Lida. I don’t remember if they would talk or just me. Then I would cry. Really cry, like I don’t think I’ve ever cried in my entire life, convulsively balling and tears streaming endlessly. It felt amazing, like I was letting myself be someone I’ve never been able to accept.

I’m not a crier. I don’t think I’ve ever been. Even with bones and tendons and torn flesh sticking out, a split open chin or broken teeth, my eyes don’t even tear up. Ending an amazing relationship many years long brought only a couple of streams of tears on different days, and these only a tear or two long.

This lack of crying has always made me wonder about myself. Is there something wrong with me? Am I a bad person because I don’t cry? I didn’t cry at all when Toni told me. “No! What? No!” was my response. Then a long silence on my end while her screeching and sobbing filled the temporal space in our conversation. I began to wonder how it might be affecting the rest of my family. My thoughts shot to the one person it would affect most. “Oh god. Does mom know?”

I’m not a nurturer. I’ve never considered myself to have great empathy for the people around me. My strongest empathy is for my family, and even that comes and goes. But I’m strong. I have a way of accepting and moving on, instantly. It’s a weird gift, and although I naturally wonder if I’m “bottling my emotions”, I’ve never found a way to let them out. So I proceed, by checking in on everyone else. I called Mom, and then I called Dad. You know, he didn’t answer. I left him a message though, and as soon as I started to speak I felt some empathy. I just said, “I love you Dad, and that is all I need to say.”

I was on the bus from Tahachapi to Bakersfield when I first started to cry. It hit me hard. It was a simple peaceful sadness and I cried at the senselessness of it all. Immense loss filled me.

I woke up from my soggy dream dream exhausted, and it happened the next night too. Both days I got up at 6:45 am and went to work. Girly Girl was there. I was exhausted. It was yet another strain on our relations.

“Dad, there was one more thing that I wanted to ask you. This might be kind of morbid, but what was it like when you found her?” It was so god awful and normal that I can only recount it matter of fact, because I know him and I know her and I know the place where she was. I know the way she leaves the lights on and her dogs in their cage, and the way she passes out fully clothed. Such was the case on this particular Sunday.

My Dad had called and texted the day before and she’d not answered. It had snowed. He knew he’d need to come home to check on the dogs and when he got home from his girlfriends he let them out of their kennel and put them outside. She was passed out, bent over the bed, as he’d seen her once before. As I write this I can smell the familiar sent of fresh urine on old newspapers lining the bottom of their cage. I don’t call it a kennel because a well-trained dog likes to be in its kennel. Aster and Bodie despise it.

“Damnit Lida, why’d you leave the light on?” He turned off the bathroom light and went out to shovel the drive way. He got halfway done and came back in to take a break. He walked in, her bedroom door still open, and I’m assuming her light still on. He picked up the little baggy of “street drugs” off her waist-high bed. One white pill lay out on the bed and he put it back in the bag and put the bag in his pocket. He’d done exactly this with a small baggy of brown heroine sometime prior. He talked to her, saying something I can’t remember. Probably asking what the pills were and reprimanding her. Expecting her to wake up as he looked over her. But you already know that she didn’t wake up. She didn’t move at all, and my Dad put his hand on her cold back.

What would you do? I can see myself finding her. I slide to my knees and hug her however I can. She’s wearing jeans and I press my head against her leg and cry. I squeeze her and she is hard. Then I turn and just sit, leaned back against the bed. In this version my Dad comes in next and I just sitther on the floor crying. She died while I still lived there. While we all lived there together, doing that funny thing called family life that isn’t like anybody else’s.

“What did you do?” he asked her. He said a prayer, asking God to watch over her. He brushed her hair back and saw the deep purple of her left cheek. She had died face down with her phone in her hand. Her finges were pointed in the position that you make when you die. When I heard this I began to wonder if she was calling for help. I liked that version for some reason.

He put the drugs back on the bed. He called 911 and as he told me the next part we laughed together. There are, it turns out, a lot of ridiculous things about people dying. 911 asked my Dad to turn her over and give her CPR. He repeated that she was cold. And stiff. If he turned her over her legs would stick up in the air, he told them. After all, she had died bent over at the waist a whole day prior. Not that he knew this, or that anybody really knows, but that’s the way it seems.

The emergency crew arrived with a fire truck and ambulance, only to declare her dead. Then the police came. The emergency crews did something in the bedroom that sounded like jumping and then brought her out straightened. Meanwhile my dad was confined to the couch where the police asked him the same questions different ways. “They treated it like a crime scene,” he said. And I don’t blame them. This thing smacks of foul play. Who opens up a bag of pills, pops one in their mouth, lays an extra one on the bed, lays the baggie down next to the extra pill, and then just croaks? Who lays expensive and difficult to obtain oxycodone pills out on their bed, anyway? “I’m glad she died at home,” my Dad said. She didn’t, Dad.

I called Mom to test my theory on her. She didn’t buy it. She said Lida had done similar things before, and she was right. But in the end she belied her truth: it was hurting her to do anything but let it go, and finding that someone else might have played a role in Lida’s death was anything but letting it go.


Family Emergency

It was that simple but it took me all day to figure it out. I finally decided to go to Lancaster tonight after mapping it and seeing that, at the very least, Lancaster put me an hour closer to LAX than Bakersfield did. From downtown Lancaster I could then take a bus to the train station, there I could take the metrolink to LA union station, and from there I could take the shuttle to LAX and finally fly out. The total trip would be about twelve hours and, if I left now I could make it by lunchtime tomorrow. I’d be a little exhausteder, that’s all. I got up from the fast food salad I’d unwittingly bathed in ‘dressing’ – a pseudonym for the white creamy mixture that results from the combination of corn syrup and vegetable oil with a smattering of other less healthy ingredients and which is essential in masking the dry and processed taste of all Burger King’s ‘salads’ – and crossed the parking lot to the bus stop. I’d missed the bus. The kid had told me it always runs late. Come to think of it I hadn’t seen a Kern County bus run late and I’d spent seven of the last 30 hours on them. I’d been in Burger King mapping and searching and coordinating with hosts for the evening and had assumed I’d figure it all out with enough time to go either east to Lancaster or west to Bakersfield. Now I could either camp out here in dry windy and cold Tehachapi, it is rural and doesn’t have too shady a vibe (unlike Bakersfield, my God) and so it wouldn’t be hard to do, or I could ride 90 minutes back to Bakersfield – the fourth time I’d be traversing that winding and hilly section of Highway 58 in 30 hours. That bus, it turned out, was running late, and as I stood on the bench inside the shelter in order to keep the biting wind off my bare legs as it cut underneath the glass walls, I got an idea. An idea that could have occured to me anytime after 8:30 a.m. when I realized I wouldn’t be going to Irvine to have my ears molded in silicone, but that instead took a full 11 hours to surface. A testament to how exhausted I am. I swapped Bakersfield for LAX and got an astounding result: nothing changed; I could just as readily fly out of Bakersfield as out of LAX and avoid five hours of bus and train travel and the associated cost. Wow. Duh. And since I was paying with award miles the plane ticket wouldn’t cost anymore (or any less, $80 and 60 cents to use your free ticket.) I called my couch surfing host and asked for a ride to the airport. One more thing on top of needing a last minute place to stay and to be picked up downtown. She is a mother and I think she knew I was in need without me ever saying it because when I got in the car she basicly immediately asked what was up. And I didn’t hesitate to tell her. I mean I didn’t tell her somebody had died, because that has proven to be a real conversation killer today, but I told her I’d planned to get off the trail and then as soon as I did I got hit with what I’ve resigned to calling a family emergency. Except its not an emergency. Somebody’s not choking, or in need of a lung or kidney or blood, or even lying on their deathbed. Nobody needs taken care of, we’re all nice and healthy. Nobody needs anything but we all know something big is missing. I’m not even going home. I just have to get the hell out of the place where I found out, and it took all day to plan it but now I can sleep a few hours (inside a house nonetheless) and I’ll be gone by 7:00 a.m. If I come back to the PCT it will be difficult to pass through here again.

Making a Break

Start:  Muir Pass
Camp: South Lake
I woke and started packing at first light. I still had a full food bag, about five days worth if I was hiking and at least a week like this. That seemed terribly ironic.
I suited up in everything I had, two pairs of socks plus a third over my airy tennis shoes, shouldered my pack and headed down the way I’d scouted two days before.
The descent was relatively easy thanks to Mark’s footprints. I only fell a couple of times, and my feet were numb but not unconformably so. In about three hours I found myself at the intersection of the PCT and the Bishop Pass trail, the point where I’d told Mark and myself I’d stop for the day so that I could descend the north side of Bishop Pass in the sun. I had no idea what either side of the pass might look like. I lay in the sun, impressed with the great warmth afforded down here at 9,000 feet. I took off my coat for the first time in five days. Then I took off one of my shirts, and finally my arm warmers. I took a chance and took off my rain pants. The rain pants Girly Girl had loaned me that just happen to fit perfectly.
I made lunch and relaxed while I played with the idea of staying, where I might camp and where water was, what the night might be like and that kind of stuff, all the while snacking on ‘LU’ – some kind of wafer with good dark chocolate on top. “Doing chocolate, ” I sometimes joke to myself when I eat chocolate for the first time in a few days because it has such a strong effect. I noticed the exact moment it hit me: my eyes locked onto the pine bows above and focused them sharply in my view. Colors grew more vivid and the world suddenly turned bright. It was like somebody had lifted the little red cover and switched on life’s afterburner. I sat up, took two bites of my lunch that was now ready, and headed up the Bishop Pass switchbacks, formatting a recipe for Trail Lasagna that I’d already written in my head.
I moved quickly and the temperature dropped quickly as I climbed the 3,000 feet to the pass. The numbness in my feet became an annoying ache, then a frozen stiffness. The top of the pass lay buried in waist deep drifts just like Muir Pass. Not surprising since it’s the same height. The crust actually supported me for a few steps in places. Then it would crack and I’d punch through sinking up to waist but not the fun kind of sinking, not the “holy moly this stuff’s deep” kind of sinking. There was no base to walk on. My feet rolled around blindly on loose rock, pitching my ankles with unwelcome suddenness to unnatural angles.
I did not stop atop Bishop Pass. I had arrived with an hour of sun left to spare, but with saltating ice crystals licking my face and everything below my knees packed with snow and turned to frozen stumps, I paused only to say aloud, “Is this really the trail?” and there was only one way to find out – trudge on, one knee-deep step at a time, and see what lay below. Three uneven steps in a row, or anything obviously pointed and sharp (like most of the granite naturally laying around) and I was probably off the trail.

A herd of dear saved me. Just as I had followed their prints for miles at a time in the North Cascades, I defaulted to following them here once I lost the trail. They lead me through notches that I’d never have suspected but that were unmistakably man-made and soon I was descending dozens of north facing, snow packed switchbacks down a cliff. Just like the North Cascades, I was kicking myself to be experiencing such a remarkable piece of trail in such harrowing conditions. I hiked until that exact moment – 13 minutes before I can’t see anymore – and pitched my camp on the first bit of snow free ground I found, a smelly horse hitching site.

Four Days at Muir Hut

I arrived on Friday just hours before the storm hit. I woke to overcast, then it cleared, then it finally filled in again. Wind. Mark arrived after dark. He’d decided to push, 28 miles up the pct in a week. He’d been destroyed he’d later say. It began to snow that night while we talked, we could hear it pattering against the door. We’d end up talking a lot over the next two days and three nights.

Muir Shelter Song

When I was 23 I zipped through the hills of Italy with a beautiful girl on back of my vespa.
So, if I die tonight my life will have been amazing thanks to you.
And if I live another fifty years in prison, my life will have been amazing, because of you.
And if I find another, and never know of you again, my life will have been amazing, because of you.
– If we meet again and spend forever together, my life will have been amazing, because of you.

I don’t know if you’re going to save me this time, bit you’re still my wonderwall.

I died loving you. I died listening to yellow. When the cold plays you that ballad, I will be there, and you will know the moment when the guitars will for me forever play into eternity.

Happy Halloween

Start: Evolution Valley (851)
Camp: Muir Pass Hut
I woke up and realized what had happened. Just seconds before, I’d been undressing in a locker room and chatting loudly to a friend. Something about the coach of the Baltimore Orioles. Then I was standing in a hot shower. Sometimes life is too cruel to even make a lot of sense. I’d laughed until I’d cried before but never the other way around, until now. I thought about the last time I’d wet the bed, when I was nine. There, cold as I was and wearing everything I had, I now had to sleep in a pair of pissed in rain pants. I realized it was the first night I’d been warm enough in three days, and I went back to sleep.
7:00 a.m. Finally it was warm enough to move. When you’re that cold you just don’t move for fear that you’ll suck in cold air somewhere. All night I lay awake, just like the last three nights, wishing I could sleep. Once in a while I’d doze off and find myself in confusing hypothermic dreams that scared me for their lack of coherence. I longed for the workaday world of nine to five jobs that brought with them indoor plumbing and central heat. I told myself that in the morning is turn around, hike

Phone died

I prayed for the sun to rise and guessed about what time it was. When the sun finally rose the world warmed. I felt strong the way I always do, and I felt surprised at how strong I felt, like I always do. I packed and made the biggest pot of oatmeal yet. All of my food still didn’t fit in my food bag, and that was a good thing.

It was overcast with dots of faded blue when I set off for Muir shelter. I glanced nervously at the two tone couliers as they came into view.

Made the Muir Shelter in record time. Not that I know how long that was, my phone is officially out of sync.

I take off my shoes but nothing else. I would be lying if I said I’m not extraordinarily scared right now. With both my shirts, my coat, my arm warmers, shorts, pants, beanie and socks – the same clothes I was just hiking in – I climb into my sleeping bag and bivy. This is a test and I truly hope that it works. The stone shelter echoes with the buffeting wind outside. Enduring wind and snow at 8,500 ft, or take shelter in exchange for lower temps at 12,000 ft? I’m putting my money on the stone shelter. Either way I need to rest now – if it gets too cold I’ll have to either hike or workout through the night.
It’s amazing. This might actually work. I’m warm enough and I can’t see my breath anymore! I had feared that the large twelve foot diameter building with its tall conical top would be too much for one body to heat. But maybe it’s going to work. I could still hike down and ironically I wish that it would hurry up and storm. Now it’s just windy and cloudy and I’m waiting. There’s even some blue sky. The storm warning starts at 5pm but I have no way to know when that is. If it doesn’t that will be great, I’ll hike tomorrow – 15 mile days instead of 18 to kennedy meadows .

My body quickly grew stiff lying around and I had retched gas, probably from the powdered greens drink mix if been putting in my oatmeal, and my three tops twisted and constricted my torso in various ways. Still, the overall effect was amazing – I had something to worry about other than freezing to death. I had gone to the lake a half mile below and brought back 4 liters of water, and I hung my tent over the door to help block the draft. I wedged a rusty nail into the catch to tighten the latch. I was ready for the storm that, so far, and it was almost dark, was just wind and clouds. Still, last night the wind kept blowing dirt under my tent and into my face and buffeting it, so this is heavenly.

I lay reading, remembering that I’d discovered a pretty severe hernia in my groin last night, and that I had in fact looked at aa batteries in Yosemite. If I had bought a package it would give me the option to night hike. As it is I only have whatever charge is left in the one I have and the half full moon.

Halloween Adventure : Kings Canyon by Night

How’s this for scary: I’m hiking up into the trail’s highest and most difficult terrain without enough warm clothes, or a warm enough sleeping bag, and maybe not enough food, and tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. a winter storm will hit, bringing a predicted 18 inches of snow by Saturday night. To top it off I’m hiking up a canyon along a precipitous cliff with a rushing river below. Somewhere. In the shadowy depths. Because it’s night. Once, I start with the glimpse of my own pole shadow coming toward me, so hard that I gasp and recoil in horror only to realize its true nature. But I have to keep hiking.
I was about to take a half day and rest at the hot springs but then I learned of the impending storm. I wish I was done with the Sierras. It’ll take me nine more days at least. I’ll try to go over Muir Pass and spend the next day zeroing in the lowlands while the storm passes. Hopefully Sunday will warm up enough to make 17 miles per day from then on. I tried to charge my phone today but it wasn’t meant to be; I left it charging at Muir Trail Ranch while I bathed and did laundry at Blayney Hot Spring nearby, but didn’t end up with much. Luke, the guy living there that I talked to, was cool and he’s the one that told me about the storm. I believe what he says, that it could be deadly, and I know I’m ill prepared, but I’ve got plenty of food – still about twenty pounds I’d guess – that if I can just keep warm at night I’ll be fine. But that hasn’t been the case. The last two nights I haven’t slept much. Last night while camped at 10,400′ Marie Lake, trying to gain extra insulation by putting my sleeping bag inside the bivy, I woke to tons of condensation in between the two. Luckily I caught it early and stripped off the bivy. All was dry by morning. The night before, sleeping in an unlocked motel room at vvr I thought how nice it would be to sleep in a bed with heat. The heater cycled on and off and woke me every time it did, and the mattresses insulation was so poor that I froze. The day before, waking at Iva Bell well before dawn, I laid around for a bit, then soaked as the world came alive, then bombed all the way up and over Silver Pass and back down to 8,000′ to VVR, which was deserted. The hike out to VVR sucks, as does the Selden Pass on both sides. I don’t know what exactly it’s like but I’m thinking taking Goodale Pass and then road walking to Florence Lake via Mono Hot Spring and then hiking back to the PCT via MTR would be way easier. It’s 22 miles according to Luke. I thought a lot about Lisa and Belluno today.

Tips for Yosemite

I’ve been in Yosemite for three days now. Make that a week. Here’s what I’ve learned:
There’s several routes into the Yosemite Valley from the PCT. The shortest is via May Lake, which gives you a good view of Half Dome but doesn’t give you the chance to climb it. For that, take the Yosemite Valley Trail. The southernmost route, which has two camps with bear lockers, is via Vogalsang Camp. You could also hitchhike from Tuolumne. Hiking in via May Lake it was a short shuttle ride for me to get to Curry Village.
The Curry Village Lodging front desk will give you a towel and show you where the showers are, for free, if you tell them you’re a PCT hiker. If you need privacy try 4235 on the handicap showers. You have to pay $5 if you go to Housekeeping Camp, and they’re not as good. Laundry there is about $2 plus 75¢ for soap. There’s free WiFi in quite a few places, including Curry Village, the library and the employee wellness center, and none of it worked for me. It was easiest just to pay $6/day and sit in the lobby of the Yosemite Falls Lodge.
Regarding camping, I gorilla camped all six nights. There are lots of places to do this. You might try the rocks behind the Curry shower building, or one of the ledges popular with climbers. Camp Four walk in tent camping is popular with climbers but fills quickly like everything else. Get there early the day of, registration is $5 per person there at the booth and all parties must be present. Tent cabins run about $86, and there is also a free backpackers campground near the Awhanee for wilderness permit holders.
Breakfast at the chow hall in Curry Village is big but unspectacular and the cost is $10.50. A quarter pound bacon cheeseburger runs $11 at the Yosemite Village grill, and sandwiches nearby are rumored to be delicious at about $8. Update: the one I had, the Italian with pesto, was just ok. The Awhanee offers luxurious atmosphere and superb service at $30-60/plate for dinner, out of most hikers’ budgets, but maybe a nice place for a drink or a homemade dessert. The cheesecake is delicious ($10). Buses loop through the Valley every fifteen minutes until 7p.m., then every half hour until 10:00p.m. After that, any of the front desks can call the park shuttle van to take you where you need to go throughout the night until the buses start running again. The bus stops running out to El Capitan on October 15, and the ice rink opens November 21. I didn’t see any bears, but squirrels were rummaging through anything and everything including open tents, bear lockers and garbage, and a brazen raccoon walked over to my pack, unzipped the hipbelt pocket, took out my fruit snacks and ate them right there in front of me while I cursed him. I found the employees to be exceedingly kind but also consistently reserved as you might expect anyone living full time in such a serene setting where there is also a distinct ‘us and them’ design to be, so don’t hesitate to be the one to strike up a conversation.
Regarding resupplying, the Yosemite Village grocery is the largest of three stores in the park that sell grocery type foods and it has everything, at a price: quinoa for $10/lb; Idahoan potatoes and Knorr sides at $3 apiece; flank steak at $6/lb; bread at $5+ per loaf; and Triscuits, poptarts or nature valley bars at $4