Sunday, July 17, 2011

Yosemite - Day 2

Today we got up early for a bigger hike.  Our plan was to hit Vernal Falls, have a picnic at the top, and head back down.  It is a 3-mile roundtrip hike with an estimated time of 2-4 hours (I always look at the longer time when planning for these things… I’m slow!), and it is considered strenuous with a 1000-foot gain in elevation.  No problem! 

We went to the top of Vernal Falls.

This was at the base of the trail.
Huge boulder that looked like it had been sliced with a knife.
A chunk just fell off the side of it.

We headed out and arrived at a parking lot at around 8:00.  The closest lot to the access the trailhead was about a mile away, so we had a good “warm-up” walk before we got there.  Loaded with a backpack of sandwiches, chips, granola bars, trail mix, cookies, and water, we took off up the trail.  We hiked to the first overlook at the Vernal Falls footbridge.  This first part of the trail was 1.4 miles roundtrip and is considered moderately difficult with a 400-foot gain.  It was mostly uphill with only two short downhill stretches (I tend to remember those types of things because I know that means I’ll be going uphill at those places on the way back… when I’m pooped!).  Then just past the footbridge was a water refill station for water bottles.  That can’t be a good sign. 

Heading up to Vernal Falls

At the base of Vernal Falls on the footbridge

We moved on ahead with our destination of Top of Vernal Falls via the Mist Trail.  We hiked right along the edge of the water leading to the waterfall.  Up until the footbridge, we had been on a pretty wide, paved trail with an occasional step up onto a squared-off rock step.  As we got closer to the waterfall, there started to be more actual steps, no more dirt path but actually climbing up steps.  Then the mist started.  Remember, it’s still early in the morning, around 9:30ish, and the temperature hadn’t warmed yet.  Scott was carrying the backpack, with my jacket in it, which I hadn’t needed yet cause I was sweating like a pig from climbing, and he was way, way, way up ahead of me with Ashlee in the lead.  They were so far ahead that I couldn’t see them.  Emilee at this point was sticking pretty closely in front of me.  The rock steps were steep, and they were slick from the mist, so I was keeping an eye out for her.  The more we climbed, the more the mist turned into rain.  It was smacking me right in the face blowing in every direction.  And it was freezing.  At this point, I was wet.  I had my camera tucked up under my t-shirt, which was already dripping.  As I kept climbing, the torrential downpour coming from the waterfall was oozing down my face behind my sunglasses, and I couldn’t see much of anything from the mascara rolling into my eyes.  At this point, I had lost track of Emilee – the girl was gone.  She made some serious tracks to get high enough up to get past the blast.  I had no idea how close I was to the top.  I couldn’t look up because of water pouring into my eyes, so there I was, head down, arms locked into position straight down, fists clenched, soaked from head to toe all the way to the skin… and if you were close enough to me, you could hear a low guttural groan emanating from my throat that sounded something like, “Help me, Jesus!” over and over and over again.  It was easily one of most miserable 10 minutes of my entire life… to get to one of the most incredible views I have ever seen.  And to top it off, God gave us a rainbow over the falls to make it even more memorable.  It was spectacular and well worth every miserable, soggy moment! 

You can see the mist from the falls.

Dripping wet from head to toe

We looked like drowned rats.

Scott thought my raccoon eyes were hilarious!

View from the top of Vernal Falls

Top of Vernal Falls

Another view of the mist from the top

Worth every minute!

Looking down over the falls.

Trying to dry off and warm up in the sunshine
Once we got to the top past the torrential mist from the falls, we were able to sit and bask in ths unshine and work on getting warm and dry.  We sat for about a half hour before heading further up the trail to another spectacular view.  We then sat and had a picnic lunch while be stalked by a squirrel and a lizard who were hoping we would drop some scraps.

Posing on a rock at our lunch spot
Scavenger Squirrel
The view from our picnic spot

Stalking Lizard
We were at the top of one waterfall and at the base of another when Scott said, "Want to go to the top?"  Ash said yes, Em said nope, and I said whatever.  We had no idea how far it was since we hadn't anticipated going to the top, we just had a goal to get to the top.  It was rough, rocks the whole way uphill.  But we made it and, once again, so glad we did!

On our way up to the top of Nevada Falls
This was a view of Nevada Falls on the way up.
Still on the way up

The view from the top of Nevada Falls

This boulder was balanced on the edge at the top.

Looking down from the top

A view of the water as it spilled over the top
By the time we got to the top, I was finally warmed up and was dripping with sweat.  I am so out of shape!  We found a good place to sit at the top and took of our shoes to wade in the water.  It was ice cold, so cold it made your feet hurt.

Wading in the water
We relaxed for a bit at the top before heading back down.  Lucky for us, Scott had brought the trail map with him, so he was able to find the back way down the trail, so we didn’t have to go back down the mist trail (also known as the monsoon trail).  Once we got back down to Vernal Falls, we were able to refill our water bottles, which had run out way back at the top.  Since I had not anticipated going all the way to the top, I had only packed enough water for the first hike and for lunch.  So when we finally reached the refilling station, we were quite parched.  We loaded up our water bottles and finished walking back to the trailhead. 

When we finally made it, we all breathed a sigh of relief, which was short lived.  We had forgotten all about having to park a mile away from the trailhead.  We passed three parking lots before we found the one we parked in.  We finally collapsed into the van, turned out onto the main road through Yosemite… and we stopped.  Dead stopped traffic in the park.  No going forward, no going backwards, no going sideways.  It took us about 30 minutes to go one mile.  At that point Scott said, “I’m going to walk to the lodge store and get everybody drinks.  Awww, how sweet!!!!  He was able to walk a mile ahead of us to the store and still walk back to the car before we had even gone half of a mile.  I thought he had gone for just four drinks, but when he got closer to us, he had a 12-pack of Coke and a 12-pk of Diet Pepsi in his hand.  He said, “Never send a thirsty man to buy drinks."  :-)

No comments:

Post a Comment