We had left for Shuteye Ridge, near Yosemite, at 4 in the afternoon and arrived at the Chevron in North Fork to meet up with our friends at 10pm. We decided to continue on the two-wheel drive road until we reached the two-wheel drive campsite. That two-wheel drive road turned out to be quite an off-roading trek. The six of us followed it up for about an hour until the car I was driving couldn’t go farther. We kept sliding down. And so, we got out, and my friend Matthew shuttled us to the campsite. We noticed a smoky smell, which we assumed was coming from the Yosemite fire a ways away. Without much concern, we pulled out our camping equipment and set up the tents. We were in our sleeping bags by 1AM. Just as we were about to fall asleep, two men on ATV’s road up to our campsite. They had passed us on the way up (the only other people we had seen in the area), and they had been to the top of the path, past the two-wheel drive campsite. Initially, I was a little bit worried that they were going to tell us that we weren’t allowed to camp where we were. But instead, one of the men informed us that he had seen flames in one of the valleys below, and there was a fire brigade getting set up. We hurriedly discussed what to do. One friend said, “we just set up everything. How fast can fires move? We’re probably fine, right? Why don’t we look it up?” But we didn’t have service where we were. And another friend replied, “have you ever heard of the phrase, ‘spreads like wildfire?’” We all agreed that we should leave. We got out of our tents, and we noticed that the smoke thickened within the hour. It smelled like we were inhaling right over a campfire, and we could barely see 15 feet in front of us. We had to get out – and fast! So we raced to get down to North Fork. When we reached cell phone service, we found that the fire, the French Fire, was only 5% contained! So we finally reached North Fork and had another decision to make. Where would we sleep? It was getting towards 3AM. We went to various campsites, and found that they were all full. We then looked for a remote pullout on a fire trail road. The first place we arrived at had glass all over the ground, and at the second, there was a very sketchy looking car, not to mention broken beds on the side of the pullout. At around 4AM, we reached a place to camp.
We had to leave the next day, so we slept for a few hours and headed over to climb in the morning in a location far from the fire. After a bit of a hike, we arrived at the Magic Wall. It was great! We did several single pitch sport climbs. There was no one else around. We looked over awe-inspiring nature of the valley below. That evening, we headed back home. Quite an adventure! It was intense, but lots of fun.
That was just one of the many adventures this summer. Aside from climbing trips and training in the gym, I’ve mostly been working at NASA Ames Research Center, and spending time with friends and family. It has been a great summer so far, and I’m looking forward to more summer adventures!