Backpacker

Stranded

Source: In late May 2017, Marcus Mazzaferri, 25, lost his pack fording a river in Yosemite National Park, leaving him lost and gearless for 24 hours in late-season snow and freezing temperatures. As told to Mary Beth Skylis 

Mazzaferri holds a favorite photo of his grandfather working with homegrown garlic.

One last crossing. That’s what I told myself. I’d ford this one, the third or so that day, and set up camp on the other side, right in the middle of Yosemite’s backcountry.

I was almost 1,000 miles into a northbound thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. I’d been hiking hard for two months, and I was eager to keep putting in long days to finish by the time law school started in August. But, thanks to a big snow year in the Sierra, I’d spent the whole day postholing. It didn’t bother me too much— as you might expect of a PCT thru-hiker, all I could think about was dinner.

So when I came upon Return Creek, I didn’t think twice. The water was moving fast, but I’d forded plenty of I stashed my glasses in my pack and unbuckled my hipbelt.

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