Sunday, June 22, 2014

A thumb or a lake? Clear choices.

Last Sunday I landed in Yosemite - Tuolomne Meadows, specifically, which is high country Yosemite, for those who haven't visited.  Camping in the forest on the banks of a snowmelt river, at 9,000 ft elevation.  Stunning.  Also, Home, as I have spent more of my vacations in Tuolomne than in any other spot on earth.  I brought one family of my own, consisting of the Physicist, Kid 1 (age 9), Kid 2 (age 4), assorted other family members, and one of my oldest friends, who is a wildlife professor, so we will call her WP, with her son, Kid 3 (also age 4).

On Monday we relaxed by a waterfall.
On Tuesday we climbed a granite dome (Puppy Dome) and relaxed by a different waterfall.
On Wednesday we wandered through high alpine meadows, and relaxed by a river.
On Thursday we climbed another granite dome (Pothole Dome) and relaxed by the river again.
On Friday we planned to Hike.

Since Hiking involved two 4 year olds, we chose an easy destination.  Lake Elizabeth: a crystal clear high alpine lake in a sunny meadow, under the watch of Unicorn Peak. There's a ridiculously postcard perfect babbling brook, ridiculously full of brook trout. Only 900 feet of elevation gain, only 3 miles in and another 3 out.  Downhill all the way out.  Perfect.

Or as perfect as a hike can get with 3 kids, of assorted levels of competency and whinge.  While the trail is perfectly suited for those competent, unaccompanied adults who like to get in a good quick 6 miles before breakfast, we planned to do it up right for the preschool set, and take all day.  There were snacks for each mile marker.  There was a huge picnic lunch packed.  There were small wetsuits and goggles and towels and changes of shoes. 

The weather was perfect. The park was uncrowded, the trail uncluttered.  We climbed a mile and 400 feet.  We ate yogurt.  We crossed creeks.  We egged people forward.  We carried nobody.  We searched for Nogs (a highly mischievous version of goblins; they live in hollow trees).  We roared like bears.  We took breaks.  We collected pebbles.  We found walking sticks. We climbed a second mile, and 300 more feet.  We earned chocolate.

This is the thing about chocolate in the high country: sometimes it melts.  And then solidifies again.  And this is the thing about Kids: they are big on Fairness.  As in "his chocolate is bigger than my chocolate, and That Is Not Fair."  This is the thing about me: I am a sucker.

So at Mile 2, with 3 kids perched above my head on a granite boulder, looking on as I unwrapped the Toblerone, it was a bummer that said Toblerone was no longer in perfect, breakable, even sized chunks.  I sighed, and got out the knife.  It's a good knife for camping, a very sharp hunting knife, 4 inch blade, comes in a leather sheath so it doesn't stab anyone through the backpack.

I chopped off a small piece.  No good.  Gave it to the physicist.  Chopped off two good pieces fairly easily.  Needed just one more piece the same size, and my trolls would be happy.  Difficult task, that: the next bit was very chunky and large. I set the knife against the chocolate, on a cutting board made of a good sized chunk of granite by the trail.  I chopped off my thumb.