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July 30, 1886
I get all shivery remembering our ill-fated honeymoon trip into the Yosemite wilderness. Even if Riley and I had known about the various things that can go wrong, could we have prevented them? Here’s my list just to remember in case I ever get such a crazy notion to venture into that valley (or the mountain trails) again. I wonder how many people will lose their lives in the years and decades to come, even after Yosemite becomes a national park, like the government intends.
A Summer Storm
A summer storm in the Sierras is a dangerous weather event. The clouds roll in as fast as a thundering locomotive. Dark, low clouds, thunder, lightening. All rolled together into a terrifying combination. Then the wind started up, nearly blowing me off the trail. If that wasn’t enough, torrents of rain fell in sheets so thick Riley and I could not see a few feet in front of us. A gray curtain fell. A cold, wet, blowing gray curtain. Worse, our packhorse, Molly, shivered in fright. Riley barely pulled off a couple of blankets and the canvas tent before she hightailed it off the trail to parts unknown. Slipping and sliding, we made it to a cleft in the rock.
Exodus 33 – I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand . . .
Riley and I felt covered and safe from the storm’s blast, but we did not feel warm and dry. Most summer Sierra storms race through, dump their rain, and move deeper into the mountains. This storm stalled over us and continued for a few hours. Needless to say, a piece of canvas is not total protection from the water.
Even though Riley and I could see our destination (Vernal Falls) from where we stood in the wilderness, getting down there without a marked trail was another story. (The trail had washed away in the violent summer storm.) Once we hiked to a lower elevation, the trees hid the view. I thought we would wander around Yosemite and starve to death. Then, we stumbled across a different creek, one we knew headed for the valley. Hurrah! Or not.
No Way Down
When we found Illilouette Creek, Riley and I rejoiced. We knew the creek made its way back down into the Yosemite Valley. What we did not know know until we peered over the edge was that the creek fell over a 300-foot drop off with no way down the slippery, shale slopes and no trail around the falls We had to backtrack to find another way down.
Stay tuned for our further adventures, coming soon.