Resting with Clouds in the High Sierra

Namaste Trail Family,

Told you I would be back soon.

I type this as I am flying from the east coast back to the Sonoran Desert of Arizona.

I will get to what has me sitting on this 757 in seat 34C at 37,000 feet after spending a day at NASA in Langley, Virginia.

As this jet takes me back to west that leads me to where we last left off.

I was visiting the laid back, Zen filled So-Cal scene and remembering my connection with that very important part of my younger life and connecting the dots to where I now stood.

I find that the sea brings me peace, balance; my body seems to align when I allow myself to brine in the sea. I marinate in it, soak it in and remind myself that the sea and our biological beings are almost the exact same mixture of salt and water.

I returned from So-Cal with a very solid sense of peace and purpose, remembering the importance of that environment for my soul and wanting to preserve it and places like it.

This So-Cal-led Life always has another lesson in growth ready for you the moment you catch your breath. I inhaled, exhaled, said my gratitudes, did some asanas, handstands and bam, another shift began to flow to my crown.

I needed to harness some strength to further propel this purpose I have been developing and building.

Where I find that strength is in the mountains.

Shortly after I returned I received a text from my friend Emma who lives in Del Mar and is spending the summer in San Francisco. We had been attempting for months to find a slice of time to camp, hike and connect.

We talked about doing Half Dome in Yosemite. You have to have a permit. They are quite hard to come by so I found a plan B that was off the beaten path high above the valley off Tioga pass in the High Sierra. The hike is named Clouds Rest. Um, I don’t mean to judge a hike by its name, but let me lace up my boots.

Emma sent that text on Tuesday morning asking if I could make it up to Yosemite for a 2-night trip that Friday through Sunday. I would have to come out a day early to make the commute and attempt to get us a camping spot.

Summertime in Yosemite, over a weekend leading into the 4th of July, we had no reservations, no real plan, and I knew of only a couple campsites that were first come first serve.

People reserve sites years in advance from all over the earth for this iconic park. It was Tuesday morning and that meant I would have to get myself packed, organized, drive 11+ hours each way and quite possibly not even find any camping spots anywhere in the vicinity.

I immediately started packing.

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I threw just about everything I have for camping in my truck and corralled my normal selection of food. I have this system down to a science after spending what has been close to 15 years on the road.

I took the southern route into Yosemite through Fresno thinking if I could not get a spot within the park I could find something close by the gates to try again the next day. That way Emma could pick up any camping items I may need to leave behind to hold a campsite outside the National Park grounds on her way in.

10 hours into my drive, 485 songs and 85 snacks later I arrived at the majestic El Portal just outside of Fresno.

I took the chance and drove to the park entrance gates, no luck. The park was full. I drove back down to Bass lake. They were full too. I was now on hour 12 of my commute and the sun was about to say its goodbyes for the evening.

A park ranger suggested a site about 12 miles off the grid on a dirt road up the mountain near Bass lake. I had no other choice but to drive up this gnarly road for the night.

When I arrived several sites were open, but by this point I was just a bit tired and couldn’t comprehend the board of site numbers and who reserved what for when.

It looked like the hardest algebra/algorithm/puzzle hybrid I had ever seen.

I parked my truck at the first site I saw, crawled in the back, ate something, I don’t remember what and crashed.

 

 

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I woke up to this backcountry forest scene after a quiet, dark and peaceful nights sleep. I forgot where I was for a moment.

The smells of the crisp, chilly, mist filled air in the mountains in the morning is something that immediately shifts your sense of serenity. I inhaled gulps full, I needed all I could get. I made some coffee and drafted a plan for my morning.

I walked back over to the campsite reservation algebra board to see what was available for the weekend; it was so easy a 2 year old could figure it out. I laughed at myself as I often do and went to a spot that was available.

I needed to drive back to Wawona where I could get signal and firewood to let Emma know where this obscure site was, hoping she would have signal during her commute in. I needed to leave something there to save it in case I couldn’t get one in Yosemite and if I did find something in Yosemite, the only 3 first come first serve sites in the park are strewn over 70 miles. I would have to drive back to the valley to let her know if I found one, and hope she would find the old campsite to pick up the stuff I left there and that she was at a place to have signal so that I could communicate all this. No problemo. I made another pot of coffee.

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I got to the park entrance and drove through with my jaw open in awe. If you have not been to Yosemite, there is nothing like it. The giant displays of rock are something John Muir and Ansel Adams did tremendous work to describe and display. The newer generation of climbers has also brought a new view of this iconic park and the movie Valley Uprising does a fantastic job of describing the history.

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I’ll let them explain the valley to you in detail whenever you want to check out their work.

For this story, we are headed high above the valley to the Tioga Pass.

I drove along Tioga Pass by glacier point. I couldn’t believe my eyes. This area had just opened up a few weeks prior; these roads are only open a very short time each year.

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Summer was blatantly blooming all over this massive granite garden and it was something of a sight out of a sci-fi movie. It was unreal. I stopped at the first two campsites and both were full. I had one site in mind that was my first choice, and it was the furthest away but very close to Clouds Rest trail.

When I got to Porcupine Flat campground, the sign said full. I drove in anyway and noticed a site that had it reserved through Saturday, however it was apparent they had left. I asked one of the neighbors and they confirmed. I walked over to the site host and she said there was a language barrier and she wasn’t sure if they were leaving Friday or Saturday. In my language that meant I had found our site! Spot 44 was the best spot in this whole campsite.

There was no cell service up there, so I secured it and went to see if now I could just connect with Emma and let her know where I was, tell her to pick up the stuff from the old campsite, and drive back up. I looked at my hammock and promised I would be back soon.

 

 

 

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I drove back down this incredible road to the valley and thankfully connected with Emma. She had found the old campsite and was a bit perplexed by the ridiculous pot holed dirt road and obscurity of the camp. It was a test in her navigation skills and patience but it all paid off. We had our perfect camp.

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We set up, made dinner and spent some time around the fire catching up on life and planning our trip up to Clouds Rest the following day.

 

 

 

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The hike was incredible; we covered just over 15 miles there and back. As always with each step that strength I am in need of pushes from the dirt up through my soles strait into my soul.  I will let the photos speak for themselves.

 

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emma

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We were both a bit wiped out when it was done however Emma had never seen the valley and really wanted to take a drive down. I was hesitant, but didn’t want to deny her of the experience.

She got to experience what is the valley of Yosemite in the summer. A 2 hour tour over a couple miles from the car. This presents an entirely different post about how we want our National Parks to be loved, but what can we do to help eliminate this kind of madness. Either way we headed back up to the serenity that was Tioga and she got to see the valley.

We had so much time to talk and be the great friends and kindred spirits we are for each other in this incredible setting. The universe set up this trip exactly as it was suppose to be for us both. We said our heartfelt goodbyes as she headed west and I headed east.

 

 

 

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I wanted to drive out through Bishop, California to revisit the area that I spent some time as a kid in the summers with my Grandparents. This place was another integral part of my younger life that needed to be revisited as I piece together this path.

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The remainder of my drive home was incredibly peaceful, thoughtful and as roadtrips always are, full of scenery, reflection and snacks.

To have the freedom I do to pursue these incredible lessons in the way I need to learn them is something that I am so grateful for, to have you all to share it with is something I have been gifted.

This trip gave me the strength to continue along the flight pattern that my soul is guiding me along.

There have been many things in life I wished and hoped for that I did not get.

The universe had other plans for me and I accepted that.

This is the path that presented itself when I did.

It is not one I ever expected to be on and it is quite the journey.

We’ll see where this ride continues to take me.

The one thing I am certain of, I am going the right way.

Next time we chat we will be headed down a valley of monuments up to the powerful San Juan Mountains for some SoulCare.

Until then, soak in some of that Peace, Love and Dirt in all the ways that suit your soul.

– Jes

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