Out of the Tuolumne Meadows general store there's a bus directly to Yosemite Valley. By trail Yosemite Valley is less than 30 miles from the store. But by road, the $15 bus ride took every bit of two hours. A fair trade in my mind, all things considered.
Tuolumne Meadows was a 40-ish mile hike from Red's Meadow (near Mammoth Lakes). This was my last chance to resupply before hiking 150 miles to Lake Tahoe.
Although I'm more or less on the last train to Canada (so to speak), I didn't want to pass on a trip to Yosemite, a place I'd never been. Most hikers arriving in Tuolumne around the same time I did, realizing they already need to be averaging close to 20 miles per day to make Canada by the end of September, took a pass on Yosemite. In fact, I was the only PCT hiker on the only bus to the Valley to run that day.
To make this about more than hiking, I'll share a brief story about a 24 year old pitching phenom named Stephen Strausburg. In 2012 (then age 24) Stephen Strausburg's Washington Nationals had the best record in baseball and were on their way to the first franchise playoff appearance since 1981. Stephen, the team's ace, had never been to the playoffs. But just two years removed from Tommy John surgery, a complicated decision was made to shut Stephen down for the year, in good health, as a precaution for the future seasons, due to the number of innings he'd already pitched.
Stephen didn't pitch in the 2012 NLDS. The Nationals lost in 5 games without their ace. The next year they did not return to the playoffs, and to date Stephen is 0-1 all time in the MLB Playoffs.
This is by no means a parallel analogy to my situation. But the moral to his story (and mine) is, you can take every precaution to preserve the future but that by no means guarantees a desired result. If you're healthy, and there's something you want right in front of you that in no quantifiable way compromises your long term goal (Canada/World Series), take it.
Is Yosemite Valley a side trip? Yes.
And might I get injured? Might this slow me down by a day or two or three? Sure.
Might I miss Canada forever as a result of some unforeseen folley in Yosemite? Quite possible.
But who's to say how participating in the present moment affects the long term goal?
Who's to say Stephen Strausburg would've been irrevocably damaged by pitching in Game 1 of the NLDS in 2012?
We'll never know what Stephen truly lost by sitting out just one game.
Not waiting to live is a full time mindset that, for me, reaches beyond the limits of the PCT. I wanted to see Yosemite. Why wait another year when there was a way to make it work now? Let the future's dice roll where they may.
Stephen waited. And he's yet to even win a playoff game, let alone the World Series. (But he is healthy today).
Life offers so many chances to overthink, to preserve for the future, to wait for a more perfect moment.
Fuck the perfect moment.
Yosemite was a blast.
But a word to the wise, get your permits to hike Half Dome 6 months in advance. And consider hiking to Cloud's Rest instead (or consider doing both). I got a permit to camp before Cloud's Rest and see the view at sunrise (see the first picture). It was one of my favorite moments of the trip.
Thank God I didn't pull a Strausburg and wait to do Yosemite next year...
Lake Tahoe by Sunday.