Field Mag: Yosemite Backcountry Exit Hike

It wasn’t even afternoon when the front door was nailed shut. The windows had already been boarded up, tents broken down, and the barn padlocked. Our Yosemite backcountry camp was officially closed for the season. Out of work after three months of maintaining camp and cooking for guests, we had just one decision left to make—hike to the nearest road 14 miles down the trail or traverse the backcountry 30 miles to the nearest brewery. We opted for beer.

We took one last look around, packed up our camping gear, and grabbed whatever we had forgotten to send out on the mules. Along with the basic necessities, like a stove and food, we hauled a guitar, a mountain of fruit, and a didgeridoo for good measure. A mile or two later we wondered if anyone had a map.

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Our mission was simple: get beer. To do so, all we had to do was walk towards it. Easy enough. This meant heading east and choosing the most accessible line up the region's iconic granite walls, summit a few mountains, then boot ski down the steep scree slopes on the other side.

At night we rolled out our sleeping pads on the granite and laid beneath the stars. This backcountry had become our backyard. We wondered if after nearly three months of living in Yosemite’s wilderness whether we were ready to see civilization again, or rather, if society ready for us.

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At June Lake some days later we laughed and drank to our success. Would we do it again—30 miles of traversing and second guessing our route? Of course, no questions asked, and no map necessary.

Jacob Myhre