May Lake Run
On backup plans. And changing plans.
Here’s what I learned this weekend: I need a backup plan that I’m just as psyched on as my main plan.
When I picked up my wilderness permit in Yosemite this weekend I asked about the conditions at May Lake.
90% snow coverage on the trail… up to three feet deep.
Dang. I wanted to run through snow, but I’d never been on this trail before. How would I find it in all that snow? Should I still go? How long would it take me if I ended up postholing for miles and miles? Did I have enough warm clothes? Ugh, basically.
That night at camp Daniel asked if I was excited about my adventure. I wasn’t. I was looking forward to it, but I was worried I’d work real hard to get up and out of the Valley just to get shut down.
The next morning I started running toward Mirror Lake. Past Mirror Lake. And then up. And up. And up. Switchback after switchback. It was hard. I get pretty focused on my goals and when things get hard and I have a seed planted that they might not work out, I can get bummed. I was bummed. So, I stopped and pulled out my map. I had no idea where the snow would start on this trail, but there were other trails. I could run over toward North Dome and down by Yosemite Falls. Or even over to the top of El Cap maybe. I could go anywhere.
I was stoked again. If I ran into snow, I could just change it up. I didn’t have to stick to my plan. I honestly forget that after ten years of running and lots of time on trails in the mountains, I’m actually pretty well prepared for just about anything. I can afford to be a little more flexible and I had all day to run around and play and do whatever I wanted!
And that’s when I learned that having a fun backup plan is essential… even if I don’t end up needing it, it’s just a good mental trick for me.
The rest of the day was really pleasant. I finished up those switchbacks and kept going up and up. I was making good time and figured I might encounter snow any time, so I started going off trail to find waterfalls and views. I watched lizards sunbathe. And snakes slither. And took lots of pictures.
I kept expecting snow. And there kept not being any. So, I just kept running.
I was just a little over 3 miles from May Lake when the trail disappeared under a blanket of white. It wasn’t like I was going to turn around at that point, even if I did have to post hole those last few miles. (I didn’t. It was packed.)
Here’s what I didn’t expect. A frozen May Lake. I don’t know why I didn’t expect it. Maybe just because it hadn’t been frozen in any of the pictures I’d seen. But it made sense it would be and, man, was it GORGEOUS.
I hung out for a while. My plan had been to spend the night there and run back down the next morning. And then I realized a few things:
- I felt really good and not tired at all. I kind of wanted a bigger day.
- I couldn’t find Georgie. (We’d planned to meet at May Lake and go climb Galen’s Crack — like we do every time we’re in Tuolumne together. I still have no idea how we managed to miss each other.)
- And since there was no Georgie, I wanted to hang out with the people that I’d left in the Valley. (Ok, maybe one person in particular. I’m a dork.)
- The only reason I’d stay was because I’m stubborn about my plans and I’d literally just learned not to be like that.
So, I turned a 12+ mile day into a 25 mile day and ran back down, past Half Dome at sunset. And the next morning I shared hot coffee and banana bread and oatmeal and laughs with friends. And then we went climbing. Changing plans can be good.