For eight days in the latter part of June I did approximately 65 miles of moderately strenuous backpacking. We started hiking out of Yosemite Valley carrying 45 pounds of the bare essentials, including food for eight days.

We hiked the John Muir Trail which travels north to Tuolome Meadows then south through Lyall Canyon. From there we turned west on the trail to Vogelsang Pass, a beautiful area, with many alpine lakes, and high peaks. We reached an elevation of 10330 ft.

The first day I thought Iíd never make it. The load was heavy and the trail steep. After eight miles, several hours of uphill hiking, and 3000 ft. elevation gain, we set up camp. Before we even got half the food hung in a tree we heard a growl. Karen, my hiking partner, dropped the food and we began yelling and beating on pans to scare the bear away. He moved back about 20 ft and laid down, as if to say ďIím not giving up that easyĒ, and they didnít. There were several bears that kept us up all night. I gathered enough wood to keep a fire going through the night, and we took shifts guarding the food. I finally dozed off to sleep at 5:00 am and slept till 10:00.

It was a hard second day of hiking. My legs were tired, back muscles aching, and blisters on my feet. We hiked 7 miles to Sunrise camp. We put our tents up on a slab of rock which overlooked a beautiful meadow with snow covered peaks in the distance. The moon was full and everything was magnificent.

Day 3 was alot less climbing. We passed through Cathedral pass, with beautiful lake and mountain views. We had to hike across alot of snow. We set up camp at Tuolome Meadows...They hadnít opened the pass yet so we were the only oneís there. It got down to freezing that night but I was nice and cozy in my down bag.

Day 4 ... We got up early and hiked 3 hours. Stopped by the Tuolome River and washed out our dirty cloths, hung them to dry, then spent the afternoon relaxing by the river. We ate dinner then packed up and hiked a couple hours up the trail toward Vogelsang Pass. It was very steep but we were energized from resting all day and it was cooler hiking in the evening.

Day 5...Got up and went exploring...There was a waterfall coming down over a snow covered mountain and hundreds of cascading streams flowing to the river. There were deer grazing in the meadow. My heart was happy. The day of hiking was tough. Lots of snow which made the hiking difficult and hard to keep sight of the trail. Often the trail became a stream. Karen made up a little tune..."Over the river and through the snow to Vogelsang we go..." We were at the highest elevation we would cover. There is nothing else like it. Magnificent views from the top of snow covered peaks down through the passes with many alpine lakes below. We continued past Vogelsang camp a couple miles to Emeric Lake. A beautiful large lake, surrounded by mountain views. We climbed a few hundred yds up on huge granite slabs that surrounded the lake and found a flat spot to camp. We filtered water, gathered wood, set up tents, and made dinner. The mosquitoes were bad. I kept a huge fire going which helped keep them away. Karen got out her pastels and drew a picture of the view across the lake. We stayed up and told stories by the fire.

Day 6...I slept well...no bears! I climbed down the rocks to pump more water for coffee. The morning reflection on the lake was beautiful and calm. We had pancakes and coffee and a relaxing morning. We went down to the lake for a swim. The water was cold but refreshing. We laid in the sun. Then we got in our tents to get away from the mosquitoes. I took a nap. We got up and packed and went down for one more dip in the lake before we got back on the trail at 3:00pm. We hiked through a variety of terrain today. Many waterfalls, thick dense forests, rocky sunny spots. The wildflowers were abundant. Around every corner was another awesome site.We arrived at Lake Merced at 7:00pm. There were alot of people camped there. Up till now we had only seen a couple of people. It was a warmer night. The sky lit with millions of stars.

Day 7...Itís my birthday. The best birthday present I could ever ask for. The gifts of nature. There is no way to describe the beauty, and the feeling I get being out there. It is something you have to experience in your own heart and soul. A long hard descent through huge granite slabs and domes along the Merced River. A bridge to cross the river had washed out so we had to do acrobatics to climb across a huge log jam to get to the other side. Then through gigantic granite walls, then a dense lush forest where the trail flattened out to Little Yosemite camp. We camped there. With many other people. We had bears visit and get into our packs but we had our food locked up in the metal bear boxes.

Day 8...Up early and on the trail by 8:00am. Down, down, down. Very difficult descent into Yosemite Valley. We took the Mist falls trail, which is one of the most popular trails. There were hundreds of people going up while we were going down the steep granite staircase. As we approached the trailhead I could feel my energy increase. We were getting close to where we had started 8 days before. What an accomplishment!