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“The mountains are calling and I must go.” -John Muir

Time really flies; it was exactly one year ago today I disappeared off into the great woods with no reception, minimal items in my backpack, and all my freeze-dried packaged food. Backpacking Yosemite was one of the most physically challenging yet mentally recharging adventures I have had. The memories and sense of accomplishment I felt still most definitely hold place in my book as one of the greatest highlights on my adventure list. It does not even feel as surreal today as it did at that time; looking back at pictures I am reminded of just how incredible it was. If you have not backpacked, better yet if you haven’t backpacked Yosemite, you have no idea what you are missing out on, just as I did not a year ago. Luckily I had an amazing group of experienced “backpacking friends” there with me to prepare me and sustain me along the way. We referred to them as our “Mountain Mama” and “Mountain Cat.” They are quite the wonderful and experienced trailblazers. This particular trip we backpacked 35 miles up to 11,000 feet elevation from Tuolomne to Happy Isles. At the end of our journey we were so physically exhausted but completly pumped that we accomplished our trail; we of course celebrated on the Valley floor with some pizza and beer. Believe me, this will be the best pizza you have ever tasted after eating packaged backpacker meals for days. It was the most accomplishing feeling in the world; I even got to take two blisters on the same toe home as a souvenir. I’ll spare you that photo…

Here are some of the experiences and things I learned on my first ever backpacking trip.

1. Come prepared 2014-07-05 08.35.45

– Do your research on what to expect and what items you need to buy before going into the woods, luckily I had my experienced friends to prepare me. You’d be surprised by just how many little things are necessary to have, from a water filter pump to neosporin for those blisters that are inevitable. I used everything I bought, so don’t skip out on the necessities.

2. Pack well. 2014-07-05 10.57.22

– This one is important. You will be hating life with an over packed backpack. As far as clothing is concerned, I was told to bring one outfit, which I wore all 5 days, thermo clothing to stay warm, and something to clean off in the water in. There is no room for your fancy face wash set, makeup, or extra outfits- don’t be that girl. Trust me you will need all the space you can get. Plus, unpacking and repacking all your gear every morning and night is a task. We packed so tight that even taking the cardboard roll off your toilet-paper just made packing that much more efficient.

3. Spend the extra cash to get the proper gear 10492231_10152561272050185_4772449323927772417_n

– When it comes to spending the extra cash on something like a “quick-dry towel” or your standard washing towel let me tell you, it is worth the extra bucks. So buy the “Liner Dry Backpacker socks” rather than just using thick socks to save your feet. Don’t skip on that bug repellent and mosquito net and the list goes on. You’ll be glad you spent a little extra cash to get the proper gear.

4. Drink Water! 2014-07-06 07.51.09

– This is actually a picture of me drinking my morning coffee. I took starbucks instant via packets. (There’s no way I was walking miles a day and waking up at dawn without a cup of steamy energy in liquid form.) I was scared to death hearing stories of our group’s previous trip; a girl did not drink enough water and was extremely dehydrated. She had to be lifted off the trail due to the severe dehydration. You’re in high-altitude, so obviously double up on that water intake. Or if you’re like me and drink a stupid amount of coffee, you might want to triple it…

5. Use your bear canister 2014-07-04 19.37.28

– I was not lucky enough to see any bears this trip, but I did hear one next to my tent the first night. Luckily we did not have any issues with bears, but again I have heard stories. You cannot leave food out in the open, even during daylight. If you’re not eating it, put it away. Bears have a keen sense of smell.

6. Encourage your friends along the way10553344_10152561282330185_7726304686155391908_n

– This is a strenuous task and you are all in it together. Everyone faces intensity at a difference pace, so leave no man behind and help a sistah out when they are slowing down or need to catch a breath.

7. Take in the beauty and silence   

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Seriously. Every second you’re able to, enjoy it and take it all in. There are few opportunities you’ll have to experience something as special as the beauty and silence Yosemite offers. It is absolutely magical and recharging to the soul.

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Yosemite surely wins the gold prize for being the most beautiful place I have seen. It is one thing to stay on the valley floor and “glamp,” backpacking Yosemite was a whole other beast. Being completely separated from all the noise of Los Angeles, demanding technology, and not seeing one other person besides the people you are with, was so refreshing. Every active and adventurous person needs to experience the incredible sensation of challenging your body to keep pushing forward and the feeling of accomplishment you have once you have conquered your intense trail!

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Yosemite truly stole my heart! I would love to hear where you have backpacked, camped, or hiked!

Happy trailing friends!

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