Day 2: Waugh Lake up to Donuhue Pass (Yosemite) (With packs to camp: 2 to 3 miles, day hike to Donahue pass: 5.2 miles)
Waking up at Waugh Lake to kids in the tent, fighting caused Cory and I to take a collective deep breath. The joy of spending every moment together is not realized in these first days that I like to fondly call the ocean bar. In our frequent visits to the Pacific Ocean, I have often marveled at how rough the bar can be on the calmest of days. That spot on the ocean where the river pours into the open sea is very rough and boats have to deal with this transition area of rough water before they can enjoy the calmer ocean. We are in the bar – relationships, chores, hiking, routines – it’s all rough water now. We are experienced at this but even so, there is always a bar that divides the river from open sailing, and we are not sailing free yet.
Everything I did this morning felt awkward. In my warm sleeping bag as I realized I needed to use the “ladies room” at the exact time that I also need to put on my contacts so I could see past my nose, put on warmer clothes to take on the morning nip in the air, I had to figure out which order makes the most sense. I walked around in circles for an hour, inefficiently accomplishing each task. No one knew who was taking tents down or getting water. Cory quietly went about his business and produced some hot water for breakfast. I do marvel at how easy he makes it look.
Cade’s comment was the most honest of all and was so accurate. Upon getting up and lying in the tent thinking about all that he should/needed to do, his first morning thought was, “I don’t wanna do it!” House routines are easy and mindless – wander down to the bathroom, do your business and emerge with teeth brushed, hair combed, and ready for the day. Out here, every detail takes effort, effort we are not used to giving and there is no way to fudge, as you can’t leave your bed unmade out here!
Two hours later and we are still at camp, but the tents are packed (it took Bekah and I 3 attempts – but then we celebrated with a hi-five victory slap) and water is almost pumped.
Happy chirps from Bekah as she tosses rocks with Cade at Waugh lake shore tells us her blisters, for now, are not hurting too bad. I gave up my liner socks so she could have two layers of socks and one of my hiking sticks and daddy covered them with surgical tape and tied her shoes tighter.
Blister tips: 1. Wear 2 socks! 2. Catch them early
The soundtrack while in this ocean bar is what settles me and propels me forward with hope – the lake lapping the shore and the breeze in the trees all have a powerful effect against the edginess of the kids with each other and the hours it takes to accomplish breakfast and perk up.
I know this, something good is happening as Bekah has found her song again as she has not stopped humming and singing all morning.
With a casual pace, we hiked towards Yosemite and Donahue pass, stopping halfway up the pass to make camp for the night and eat lunch. Bekah’s blisters both popped and she really struggled prompting us to pause to increase the 1st aid protocol. Thus began her long foot soaks in the healing waters of the Sierras.
We day hiked to Donahue pass to touch Yosemite and then returned to camp. The beauty from these mountain peaks brings an undeniable feeling: peace. The naturalist E.O. Wilson gave a name to this cozy feeling I’m experiencing: biophilia. He asserts that our connection to nature is deeply ingrained in our genes. This could be why more people visit zoos each year than attend all sporting events combined.
A psychologist named Roger Ulrich studied patients recuperating from gall bladder surgery at a Pennsylvania hospital in 1984. In comparing patients with rooms that overlooked a brick wall versus those that overlooked a strand of deciduous trees he noted of the patients with the park like setting to gaze at, “shorter hospital stays, fewer negative comments in nurses’notes…and they tended to have lower scores for minor post-surgical complications such as persistent headache or nausea requiring medication. Moreover, the wall-view patients required many more injections of potent painkillers.”
This obscure study brings enormous implications. The peace I felt today at Donahue pass is more than just “cozy” feelings. Proximity to nature really affects our physiology, in real, measurable ways. It really does make us happier, more peaceful, clearer minded. It really does detoxify us.
Despite her setback, I do not think she stopped humming and singing all morning. Such content spirts out here, we all are. Today was our 1st full day, of hopefully many, without a single quarrel.
Our 1st 24 hours has offered many opportunities to teach and reteach giving purpose and eventually independence to the daily tasks. It’s slower now, but in no time, they will have it down – how to set up and tear down the tent, how to get water for dinner, how to clean the dishes, how to bathe in a stream. We have had an entire day of conversation, among just the four of us, with occasional stops to chat with a fellow sojourner. Even so, as dinner cooks (sunny day pasta last night, chicken pasta pesto tonight) they are loudly playing Rummy in their tent.
We’re eating so well out here thanks to our dehydrator providing morsels like swiss chard chips for dinner and pear and nut bars for lunch.