Jeff Cunningham’s Favorite Hike

Hi,

Here is my favorite hiking story as an adult (I have more as a teen Boy Scout).

My ten-years younger brother (47 at the time) had been backing for about 15 years with like-minded friends from his work (Disney World Orlando, FL). The first of July 2017, he called and invited me on a trip he had already planned to backpack in Yosemite National Park in California beginning July 17th!

For a week! WOW!

I wanted to go but had doubts about going. I was 57 years old and had not been backpacking since I was 17- 40 years ago! Also was not sure I was physically up to it. I work a lot, eat a lot of fast food and don’t work out except what I do in my job as a truck tire salesman and yard work around the house.

Discussed this with my wife Jackie & she was not for it. She was concerned about my safety. I told my brother I probably wouldn’t go. He told me he had planned this trip for his 17-year old daughter Kristen to go with him (as a follow-up to their 2-day trip to hike Half-Dome last year) but she said she wasn’t backpacking for 6 days without a shower! Also said he had asked other friends to go with him but no one else could. My sister Rebecca (who  also works at Disney World with him) suggested he ask me. He didn’t think I would go.

After telling my boss (shout out to Jordon Browning of Best One Tire & Service of Knoxville,TN!) he told me I was crazy if I didn’t go. Our local Bridgestone Truck Tire representative Cass Moore, also said I should do it – so 1 week before we were to fly out to Yosemite I called Joe & told him I’d go.

Went to the Knoxville Tennessee REI store & bought a pair of Keene waterproof hiking boots, Columbia pants, hiking socks, & some Nike compression shorts.

You’d think I would be hiking all week to get ready, but no! Too busy!

We hiked:

Day 1
Glacier Point to Little Yosemite Valley

 


Day 2

Little Yosemite Valley to Half Dome & back


Day 3

Little Yosemite Valley to Clouds Rest and back to a trail camp on the JMT.


Day 4

Trail Camp on the JMT to Yosemite Valley


Day 5

Drove to Tuolumne Meadows & Tenaya Lake & did the tourist thing

Tuolomne Sequoia Grove!
I’m the guy in the yellow

 

60 miles.

This trip was amazing! I did not know what I was capable of doing backpacking & was pleased I could do this. Yosemite is a precious, beautiful place & has awakened in me the desire to see more of these wild places & to help preserve them. Also have to admit I was bitten by the hiking/backpacking bug (just ask my family & friends!) and am on the hunt for equipment (bought a used Big Agnes Flycreek tent at REI already) and am planning a trip (with the best trail guide-Joe Cunningham) in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Spring 2018!

Did I get blisters from not breaking in my new Keenes? You bet! Just applied blister packs & moleskins & hiked on.

Did I huff & puff from not doing anything like this for years? You bet! But my trail guide just said “Hike your own hike” and “It’s just around the next bend!” So, I just did one step at a time and it was fantastic! The scenery was breathtaking and I feel well-rewarded for my efforts.

I am now an avid backpacking/hiking proponent due to the generosity & patience of my brother Joe. He supplied all the gear I used and he has great discernment on what gear & how much to take. His dream is to retire to Yosemite as a trail guide there.

The climb to Clouds Rest was the hardest day of the trip but the view was magnificent!
The weather the was great this whole trip. No rain and temps were pretty moderate.

Little brother waiting for big brother to summit Clouds Rest

 

(picture courtesy of my brother)

 

 

Physically, when we summited Half Dome I was so worn out I immediately went to sleep. When I woke up I threw up a little, but after drinking some water & eating trail mix I was ready to go again! Hiking to Clouds Rest the next day was harder. Napped there too when we summited.

Joe told me later he didn’t think I was going to make it to the top. But I did because I wasn’t going to quit.

He told everyone  when we got back that I napped everywhere: On the floor at his house, at the airports, on the plane to CA., in the rental car from Fresno to Yosemite, on the shuttle buses in Yosemite, on Half Dome & Clouds Rest &  beside the Merced River at Vernal Falls! He has the pictures to prove it! Oh well.

Later in the trip I asked him what we would have done if I physically couldn’t do the hiking? He said we would have done something else.

Then he said I had amazed him- he did not think I would be able to hike all I had done!

Especially Half Dome!

 

As a veteran of 1 backpacking trip in my adulthood I would say these things go those who are thinking of doing this:

1- Get an experienced backpacker that has the patience to advise & go with you.

2- Don’t skimp on gear. Get the best you can buy or borrow.

3- Get out there! You will be amazed at what you can do!

 

Regards,

Jeff Cunningham

One thought on “Jeff Cunningham’s Favorite Hike

  1. Pingback: Jeff Cunningham’s Favorite Hike | Montem Outdoor Gear

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *