See You at Mather!

This day was not one of my shining moments in the Backcountry.

There had been an outbreak of measles in Yosemite among park employees. As a result, all park employees had to go down to the clinic in Yosemite Valley for a measles immunization booster. We all loaded up into the van after breakfast and headed west on Hwy 120. This was not a simple down and back again trip. It was about a 90 minute drive one way. That’s three hours there and back again. Add in waiting time at the clinic and the day was going to be pretty much shot by the time we got back.

On the drive down, I started feeling lousy. It started as a headache and rapidly turned to nausea. I spent most of the trip with my eyes closed and my forehead pressed against the cool window glass. Fortunately I had a window seat. The drive seemed to take forever. We finally made it to the clinic. They were ready for us, and it didn’t actually take very long to get through with the shots. Since it was lunch time, Wayne drove us to the village for lunch and told us all to meet back there in an hour.

I was feeling worse by now and wanted to make sure I had a window seat on the way back. “Right here, Wayne?”

“Right here. I’ll be back right at this spot in an hour.”


I sure wasn’t eating any lunch that day. I went on a short stroll through the Ansel Adams Gallery and then went back to the bench at the rendezvous spot. I sat/laid there for the rest of the hour. I was determined to be the first one on the van when it pulled in to make sure I had a window seat to stave off nausea.

At the appointed hour, Wayne pulled up…with the van full of people!

On, no.

“I thought you were picking us all up here?”

“Well, I was. But everyone was over there.”


This is where The Great Embarrassment comes in. Instead of telling people that I felt sick as a dog and that I would appreciate a window seat to reduce my chances of puking, I just sucked it up and climbed to the back of the van. Why did I do that? I don’t know. Some silly sort of pride? Too proud to admit that I was sick? I don’t know. I just know that I did it. I do know that if I had just said I was sick, the crew would have let me have a window, and what happened next might have been avoided.

We started back up the windy highway to Tuolumne Meadows. I had my face in my hands most of the time, feeling pretty sick and fighting hard not to be sick. I can’t remember exactly what happened over the next 30 minutes or so, but I do remember what happened because of it.

Somebody on the van was complaining about something. That seemed like a popular thing to do with some people on our crew. (More will come up about that later.) At some point, Rolando, or Rollie, was making some pointed comments. I’d had enough of listening to it all by now and sharply told him to knock it off. He responded to me just as sharply. The next thing I know he’s calling me out! To settle it with fists!

“That would get us both fired, and you’re not worth losing my Backcountry season over.”

Rollie replied “OK, how about we settle this at Camp Mather, when debriefing is over?”

“You’re on.”

I could not believe this was happening. I’ve never been in a fight in my life, and now I’ve got a duel at debriefing?! What in the world?!

For what it’s worth, we started a Yo2 catch phrase right there. For the rest of the season, whenever a discussion would start to get too heated, someone could usually lighten things up by saying “Oh, yeah? Well, I’ll see you at Mather, buddy!” Then everybody would start laughing and situation defused.

Categories: Backcountry, CCC, Yosemite | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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