BY PACIFIC ENG, LAWRENCE XU
August 2nd, 2016.
It’s my first night at Yosemite with the XC team. I’m tenting with a couple people I met on the car ride over here. I guess that’s what happens when I chose to do a not-so-popular sport. It took around 7 hours to get here; we made a few stops, one of them to run. It was over 100 degrees of dry heat, and we ran about 3 miles around a park in Fresno, which was way worse than the early morning runs. Another one was for lunch. I had to choose between Chipotle, In-N-Out, and Chick-Fil-A. I forgot that I didn’t know anyone on the team, so I have the freedom to eat whatever I want. The line at In-N-Out was pretty long but worth it. My parents never brought me to any fast food places, they always complain about how unhealthy it is. After lunch was another exhausting three and a half hour car ride. We arrived at a small town, where coach announced that the it will be the last time we’ll receive any cellular signal until the last day. I don’t remember reading about this on the handout. I wasn’t ready for it, as I was expecting to be able to text my family or my middle school friends, so that at least I won’t feel lonely after all the activities. It was hard on me but I guess it’s just a chance for me to finally make friends in the team I trained with for an entire month. I tried to sleep on the last bit to the campsite, but the entire car including me had too much sleep.
This guy called Eric took the aux cord and started playing musics. It was some lovely pop songs, and I sang along.
“Dude you’re really good at singing,” Eric startled me, “You should come join us. Don’t worry we have no idea what is going on either.”
He was referring to the other people in the car, as I figured out later.
August 3rd 2016
It was one of the worst nightmares I’ve ever had. 7:30 in the morning, way earlier than I usually wake up, I can vaguely hear coach shouting, along with the sound of pots and pans falling on the ground. The sound became louder and louder. I was able to identify what coach is shouting. “WAKEY WAKEY!” Coach in his scariest voice. He sounded like a monster, like a demon from hell. It was as if he’s cursing us for sleeping. I was terrified and jumped out of my sleeping bag, but immediately embarrassed for doing such in front of people I don’t really know.
Today we climbed half dome, a total of 18 mi hike. On the way there we played music and I sang along. Up the mountain I had some great time with the people I met. Eric introduced me his buddies. We cried and ranted all the way up. At the top we heard about swimming in the stream and got all excited. Eric asked around if anyone wants to run down with him, so I told him I will be able to. We talked about many things on the way down, and eventually became good friends by the end of the day. We played in the ice cold water, and headed down to the vans to return to the camp site.
That night we played Mafia with the seniors in the lounge next to the camp site. I think I played a pretty good mafia. It was nice that I get to know a few seniors, I might help when the season starts.
August 4th, 2016.
Woke up early again to the sound of coach banging his pots and pans together outside my tent. The run this morning was an out and back, so we were running for about 30 minutes through a trail until coach turned us back around and we had to run back. Some of the seniors took it pretty easy on the way out and ran hard on the way back so they could finish faster. Had bacon and french toast for brunch when we got back, and I definitely ate my fill ‘cause there was a lot of extra.
After that I went with some people to the river and swam upstream for a bit. One of the people there was a girl named Courtney. I’ve only really seen her while we’re running but we’ve kinda assimilated into the same group. The craziest thing happened though, cause we found a grape vine right next to the river. They were still pretty unripe so really sour and hard. So naturally we started throwing them at each other and we ended up spending so much time in the river that we missed lunch.
When we got back the team was going to a swimming hole, and according to coach it was 102 degrees so I made sure to put on lots of sunscreen. There was a big rock we could jump off of right into the swimming hole. I was too scared to jump off at first but once I saw everyone else doing it I tried it and it was actually really fun. One person decided to do a backflip off the rock and got yelled at by coach.
I didn’t know we would be running again at the watering hole, so I only brought my flip flops. It turned out to only be a mile but everyone was running faster than me cause I had to run with my flips flops. One person offered to run with me though, which was nice because I could pace with him. After that, we returned to the campsite and had burgers and hot dogs for dinner. I ate plenty, as always. We ended up playing paranoia that night, which was nice cause I got to sit next to Courtney and got to answer questions she asked me.
August 5th, 2016.
Today didn’t start out very fun. We had about an hour drive to another campsite called Mariposa. It turns out there’s a trail there that’s 5 miles uphill, and we were gonna run it. Most people, including myself, hiked part of it. Coach was up waiting for us at the top, and apparently he just ran up the entire thing super quickly. It was a nice walk back down cause I got to talk to Courtney for a while, and I found out we have similar music taste. I also brought a bag of chips with me for a snack and we shared it on the way down. I gave the last of my water to her cause she forgot to bring any whatsoever. At this point she’s the person I’m closest to on the team.
When we got back to the campsite I was completely exhausted so I passed out in my tent for a while. I was woken up by my tent mates because the whole team was having a pool workout. It was an indoor pool of the hotel near our campsite. It wasn’t much of a workout actually, we ended up playing sharks and minnows. Some friends and I went to the river afterward; I only stayed for a little bit because I went to get a postcard for my friends back home. I got one with a picture of half dome on it, and told them I was doing well and having lots of fun.
That night was chili night and it was really good. Granted, it was from a can but the cooking crew sure did a good job of heating it up. There were also tortilla chips, onions, and cheese we mixed with it. After that, we played games like wink assassin and mafia and such. I realized we were leaving the next day and that made me kinda sad cause I honestly really love it here. Courtney and I walked down to the beach by the river and just sat together for a bit looking at the stars. The stars were so beautiful, and the sky was full of them, nothing like the sky back in the city.
“Have you ever seen stars like these before?” I asked her.
She shook her head, and I felt like we had some kind of a connection I don’t remember how long we were alone for, but a few other people showed up eventually and we all layed on the beach looking up at the stars. I could’ve looked at them all night, except at one point we all fell asleep. Probably around 3am, we all went back to our tents because it was absolutely freezing outside. Thought about Courtney that night before I fell asleep.
August 6th, 2016.
Today was the last morning of Yosemite. We had another out and back in the morning, but it was shorter than the first one. Got back to the campsite, packed up all of our stuff, and hit the road. I felt kinda sad looking back at our campsite from the window of our car, but I promised myself I would be back, and that made me feel better.We only made one stop on the way back, and it was for lunch. I was looking out the window for a while, just staring at the trees. I forget for how long, but the next thing I knew I was fast asleep.
I brought back a lot of memories from Yosemite, along with a couple blisters. I definitely got more tan too. But overall I’m super glad I decided to go on this trip because it made me realize that XC is more than just a sport, it’s a family. Yeah, it was short, but it was one magical week I’ll never forget. I can’t wait to go see Courtney again at morning practices, I feel like we’re gonna be really good friends. Or maybe more. I mean, who knows what’ll happen next year?