Monday, September 4, 2017

Yosemite Falls

So this time one week ago, Jon and I were huffing and puffing our way up Yosemite Falls. The trail is 3.7 miles up with an elevation gain of over 2,400 feet. While it has many beautiful and rewarding views, it is most certainly a difficult hike, to say the least. It was easily the most difficult hike I've ever done. I'm not sure if that's just how hard the hike is or just how out of shape I am... probably a combination of both. It didn't help that I didn't do any training leading up to the hike either. I mean, for a week I did about 50 lunges and about 50 squats a day-- on a scale of 1-10, I'd give myself a 2 for preparedness. I had a map, lunch, snacks, and what I thought would be enough water (80oz). Not nearly enough water (I had enough to get me up, and rinse down my lunch), and not nearly enough training. My legs were burning more and more with every step we took and every 15 minutes, I'd ask Jon if we could pull over in the shade to catch my breath. Hike for 15 mins, take a break for 5, hike for 10, take a break for 10, and repeat. The further we got, the more difficult it was getting. Several people on their way down had told us we were almost there and "just another 10 minutes, or so." Yeah. We heard that 10 minutes line about 4-5 different times, and after none of them was it just 10 more minutes.




 

About 3 and a half hours after we started, we were finally at the top of Yosemite Falls. To the left of us was the water rushing 1400+ feet down the first fall, and in front of us was the beautiful Yosemite Valley. The previous evening we were up at Glacier Point enjoying a remarkable view, but view from YF was much more enjoyable. Maybe because there was more sunlight. Maybe because we could see more. Maybe because the payoff of the long hike made it seem more rewarding. I'm not quite sure, but this perspective of the park is one that I'll never forget. I don't know how many times, Jon and I looked at each other with wide eyes and exclaimed, "WE DID IT!!!" as we enjoyed the view from 2,400+ feet above the valley floor.




 


After a long rest at the viewpoint, we decided to head over to the pools atop YF. It took us about 10-15 long and impatient minutes to arrive, but upon arrival, we looked at each other like a couple of kids on Christmas. There they were. Pools with ice cold water that we couldn't wait to soak our legs in, plenty of shade to relax under, and no more than 2 dozen people to share it all with. We had made it. We sat down, gave our legs a much needed ice bath, and devoured our lunch-- I don't think we said more than a few words to each other while we ate. We were definitely exhausted and mesmerized by the peacefulness that is the pools above Yosemite Falls.




I had contemplated getting in, but wasn't too sure because I didn't pack a swimsuit and didn't want to hike back down in wet clothes, so I was weighing out the pros and cons of getting in that crisp mountain water. While crossing the stream to get Jon's bag, the universe made the decision for me and I slipped and fell in. It was so cold. I tried to let out a laugh but only a exhaustive and surprised sigh came from my throat. After that I figured, "well, what the hell, I'm already soaked," so I wandered down a ways closer to the falls and found a small little pool which I claimed as my own. I held my head under the rushing water and let the water flow over me. I felt like I was a battery being recharged-- if I were a video game character, you would've seen my energy bar refilling. After spending some time in the pools, I laid under the sun on a large granite slab, hoping to dry off. Within a few minutes I konked out for a good 10-15 minutes. When I awoke, I felt so recharged and refreshed unlike I've ever felt before and I swear to you I am not being hyperbolic. Jon and I knew it was time to start making our way back down to the valley floor, so with no water we decided to fill up our canteens with fresh mountain water and cross our fingers that we wouldn't get sick from any bacteria or contaminants (spoiler: we didn't get sick 😎), and we headed back.

 



Getting down was sooooo much easier than the way up. We had stopped at a particular spot under a shady tree on the way up, and from that point it took us two more hours to get to the top. On the way down, we made it there in under 40 minutes. Now we knew why all those people on the way up kept telling us we were only 10 minutes away.

Thanks for looking. Below are a few bonus pictures (two of the trees and sky from the trail, and one screencap at the end of our hike. 24,000+ steps and 250+ flights of stairs. What a long day.).