Foreword: I started this trip apprehensively. It was my first time camping and, although the journey had a toll on my body, it was the best 53 miles I have every traveled.
Our quest began at Mono Meadows or the starting point of what would become a 6 day venture into the Californian wilderness.
A route known as Red Peak Pass Loop.
(Top Left): Max, Chase, Ali.
Everything seemed pretty manageable at the start, that is, the 50 pound sacks on our backs didn't seem like they would cause any permanent damage. This all changed, however, by mile 6. The optimism I once felt soon vanished. We were all in need of a rest. So we took a break and had no choice but to set up camp.
Later, Max and I decided to take a bath.
(Bottom): Max and Ali by the waterfall.
The following day was spent climbing another 6 miles. We passed through a number of terrains: rocky switch backs, prickly shrubs, dry forests, etc.
We didn't reach campsite number 2 until we reached 9,700 ft in elevation. At that point, we all felt dead, but the view was ill.
(Bottom right): Ali and Chase at OttawaY lake.
Relaxation. The group walked a total of 0 miles. We did, however, move campsites and spent the rest of the day hunting for fish with illegally cut down sapling spears. We also went swimming.
(Top): MAX and Ali lying peacefully.
On day 4, Max, Ali, and I walked 12 miles and mounted Red Peak Pass. At 11,000 ft I touched snow for the first time in years and then took a poop.
(TOP): Ali on the descent.
(TOP): Me, Max Selfie.
Soon after this picture was taken, Max and I lost Ali. She was nowhere to be found for the entire afternoon. Although we didn't put too much effort in finding her, we eventually discovered her whereabouts when we saw a figure sprawled out lying on a rock. Like a fully grown tigress, there throned Ali.
Campsite number 3 hit us like an abrupt balcony. We set up our gear on a cliff that edged the sky. For dinner, we were awarded with beans and fritos and then we watched the moon rise with the stars. It was a marvelous day.
Day 5 featured the return debut of our trip. This day, we traversed another 12 miles and made our first encounter with other human beings since Mono Meadows.
After passing 2 lakes, we finally made our way through Echo Valley where we would set up campsite number 4. Campsite number 4 paralleled a river where we celebrated and bathed our troubles away. All was good. Everything was calm before I lost my phone and almost stepped on a king snake.
(TOP): Ali and MAx on the bridge.
Day 6 marked our final loop back into Mono Meadows. This day was full of blisters and emotion but ultimately symbolized a major feat. On our last day, we marched through the bottom of Echo Valley and went through a recently burnt forest. At noon, however, it began to rain so I had to put my camera away.
(TOP): This picture was taken at the top of the hill in Mono Meadows. You could still smell the smoke from the burnt trees.
We reached the car and I couldn't believe how wonderful it felt knowing that our trek was over. Although I can't express how amazing the 6 day journey was, in the moment I was ready to get back to civilization. We drove into Yosemite Village and returned our bear canisters. I hadn't applied sunblock once up to that point so I walked around with my shirt off everywhere! Even at the gas station, where I needed to go indoors to pay for gas, I was shirtless. I was ruthless...
All in all, despite my topless endeavors, the time I spent in Yosemite was an unforgettable time in my life. I experienced beautiful California with beautiful friends and discovered a part of my home that I never knew existed. I'm happy to say that in those 53 miles, I also first began to take pictures, and that is how I started documenting my life.
Thanks to Yosemite, I have pictures to share with you today.
(TOP): ME and that's a wrap!
Not Artist: GianCarlo Lobo & Artistic Director: Max Schank