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Having John live in my Mountain View, CA walk-in closet was a great situation because he had a Jeep and an urgent need to get outside. After a few sessions at a local rock gym, we decided to head to Yosemite for a weekend adventure. I was in no shape to participate in the climb he had planned, so I brought my backpack and planned to purchase a map at the park gift shop and start walking.

The ride across California was adventurous in itself. We left around 8pm and didn't arrive at El Portal until around midnight. John's old wrangler was so loud that we could not hear one another speak on the highway. The canvas roof was missing a few supports and flapped violently at speeds above 55mph. We stopped for gas off the highway, only to be threatened by a large black man in a Hawaiian shirt who became very offended when we politely asked him to move his old blue BMW away from the pump while purchasing his even bluer jumbo Slurpee. Arriving safely, we camped in a dirt pull-off and met Morgan, John's climbing partner.

Entering the park for the first time, I was shocked. Yosemite is one the most beautiful places on the planet and is the crown jewel of America's National Park system. You can just sit and stare and never get bored.

It was past 10am by the time I filled up my four liters of water, bought a map, and found the Upper Yosemite Falls Trailhead. The temperature was close to 90 degrees and the forecast called for five days of sun, typical for the Yosemite dry season. I correctly assumed I didn't need to bring shelter, but had a relatively full pack nevertheless.

In less than two hours I climbed 2500ft over 3.8 miles, making it to the top of Yosemite Falls. Of course, "falls" was a bit of a misnomer for the season since the stream was so low that no water made it over the falls. Above the valley, it was easily fordable. Rumor has it there is a climbing route hidden under the falls that is only climbable in the very dry seasons.

After a lunch break and a chat with some Cal Poly coeds about their adventures, I headed toward Yosemite Springs Camp. I was making especially fast progress with the carbon trekking poles John bought off in Camp IV for $10. I quickly burned through three and a half of the four liters of water I was carrying before realizing I did not have the ability to purify more. The terrain above the valley was a combination of forested streams and hot open swaths of natural rock between the shade I coveted.

When I arrived at Upper Yosemite Creek, I found it completely deserted. With only two hours of daylight left and a headache that felt like dehydration, I decided to spend the night anyways. It turns out the campsite had been closed for the season and up until it was recently put down, had a serious problem of a bear harassing hiker. All of this would have been good knowledge to have ahead of time, but hindsight is 20/20.

I placed a collect call to my parents to let them know where I was, and hunkered down 5 miles from any human for the night. I got started back before the sun rose to conserve water and received a half liter of water from some other hikers on the way back. John and Morgan took longer than expected on their climb, so I wrote a few postcards at Camp IV and helped pick up trash around the valley on Yosemite's annual clean-up day for a free water bottle and some stickers.

It was back to Mountain View, CA - the real world.