Here in California
The fruit hangs heavy on the vine
There's no gold, I thought I'd warn ya
And the hills turn brown in the summertime
In late August, Linda and I along with Linda's brother Corey from Los Angels, will take took a 4 day, approximately 50 mile hike in the high, back country of Yosemite National Park. The Park Service establishes seasonal tent camp sites in 5 high country locations of Yosemite. Each camp site has approximately 10-15 four person tents outfitted with cots and is open from late May to early September. The park service provides breakfast and dinner at each location, and "take away" lunches are available for purchase. Most of the camps have shower facilities, although the California drought may impact availability. Each year, a lottery is held for the available slots and demand tends to far outstrip supply. However, from time to time, winners will end up canceling their reservations, which is how we were able to score reservations at two of the locations- Merced Lake and Voglesang. For more information on the camps, here is the wiki entry: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Sierra_Camps
This will be very challenging mountain hiking, certainly at the level of the Alps portion of our Italian hike. Adding to the difficulty is the fact that we will be hiking at high altitude. We will come up a day early to hike the area around Yosemite Valley. We are planning a 10 mile hike that with a climb of several thousand feet and stay at Curry Village. The next day, we will hike more than 14 miles from Yosemite valley, at an altitude of approximately 4000 feet to Merced Lake, at an altitude of 7200 feet. The next day, we hike about 10 miles to Vogelsang at an altitude in excess of 10,000 feet. We then hike back to Merced lake, and then the next day back to Yosemite Valley.
Over the past 5 years, we have visited Yosemite on many occasions and have greatly enjoyed its stunning beauty. However, we always stayed at lodges in the valley and only did day trips out. This will be our first time in the high back country.
In the month since we got back from Italy, we have done several long city hikes in San Francisco and New York; however we have not done any mountain hikes. Today we went out for our first hike in the mountains around Sonoma. Jeez, we have fallen out of shape! It is clear that we will need to do more work over the next few weeks to better prepare for Yosemite. We are spending next weekend at Lake Tahoe at the home of our good friends Bill and Liz Klein and we hope to get some good hiking exercise (to offset the expected partying!).
Post script: the above was written around August 10. On August 24, the Napa region suffered a 6.1 earthquake. Our Sonoma home is located only 4 miles or so from the epicenter of the quake. By a quirk of fate, both of our kids were spending the weekend with us in Sonoma, the first time they have both been there in almost two years. We were awoken at 3:20 am by a loud rumbling in the house. The sound was so loud and violent, I first though perhaps we had been hit by an airplane crash. We suffered a fair amount of damage to household goods, including lamps, artwork, dishes, glasses, broken bottles of wine, etc. A pipe to our pool broke and drained several feet of water into our vineyard and there is cracked plaster in the pool. Truly a terrifying experience for all of us, but we are all alive and healthy! A little money and time will repair the damage to the house. A good hike in Yosemite will be a welcome relief at this point!