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What was it like?

Those backpacker campgrounds are a unique part of hiking in Yosemite. One night that campsite next to ours treated us to a long conversation about headlamps--lumens, battery life, dimmer switches and all--and another night we got imitation Mick Jagger songs, complete with acoustic guitar. Some people are focused on an Alpine (before dawn) start to their John Muir Trail hike, while others are in large groups--we saw one group with at least ten matching one-man tents.

The vast majority were in one and two-man tents. We did see a few people in bivouac sacks, including one memorable fellow fast asleep early in the evening right next to the main trail to the restroom. But we may have been the only people with a three-man tent...and certainly the only ones with a tarp-tent.

Not so many old people. We're old, so we recognize those guys. But lots and lots of young people. Sure, there were the skinny young dirt bag guys with beat up packs and a goal to hike 25 miles a day. But there were more young couples with new gear, and quite a few groups of young women. Best of all, there were a few families, with kids as young as four or five, who were packed up and hiking off for an adventure together. How cool is that?

And there were professionally guided groups, too. As we passed on such group on the trail, I asked them where they were headed.

"Wherever they take us!" was the reply.

And that's where they went.

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