12/28/16: Upper Yosemite Fall Hike
Our plan for the day is to hike the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail which is a hike I did maybe 20 years ago. I remember liking it and wanted to do it the last time we were here but we didn’t get it done. We were up around 8 again but, since we planned ahead, we were able to get ready and leave much quicker today. We packed our stuff into the van & drove to the park where we parked in the same lot we did yesterday. We used he microwave in the van to make our breakfast & then walked to the shuttle stop & got off at #7 to hike the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail.
This trail isn’t easy & gains 2,700 feet vertically over the 3.5 miles to the top. It was harder than I remembered it and it was made worse due to the snow, slush & ice on much of the trail. Joyce’s new traction devices worked great for her and mine did their job as well. Joyce slipped once & fell onto her butt but, luckily, was not hurt. The trail started off with a pretty steep set of switchbacks that didn’t let up for quite a while. The trail is rocky as well so it was far harder than a similar set of switchbacks, such as the Angel’s Landing trail in Zion National Park, which is steep but paved & smooth. On the way up we were given great views of Half Dome, Yosemite Falls & Yosemite Valley. Joyce did a great job on the trail and was able to push to the top despite a huge elevation gain and the poor trail conditions. We started the hike at about 10:30 and summited at about 2:30. I was a bit worried about the late time since we still needed to descend. We ate our lunch at the top and I climbed down to the spot where you can look at the river pouring over the edge on its way down to the valley. This was a bit tricky due to the ice on the trail. Joyce decided not to make the trip down to the view point.
Once we were done with lunch we started our descent. I was afraid it would take us a long time due to the snow & ice but it wasn’t too bad. We took off our traction devices about 1/2 way down and we had some slips but no falls. It was a tough descent due to the steepness of the trail as well as the rockiness & ice but we made it down to the bottom about 5:00. Along the way we saw some snow shelves slipping off the canyons as well as a few rock falls that let out huge booms as they came off the walls. Once we heard the noise we would look up and see softball sized rocks falling down. Luckily none were too near us. We were lucky and got a shuttle right away & took it one stop where we ate at a food place in the park rather than cook at the hotel. We were in line for burgers but the line was crawling so we went over to the other line where nobody was & Joyce got some trout & I got some potato & rice sides since I didn’t want to spend the dough for something better. It was all pretty good but everything tastes good when you’re starving. Once done with dinner we grabbed a shuttle back to our van and hit the road back to our hotel. Traffic was much better tonight & there was no backup at all. Road conditions have been decent & I have used 4×4 mainly as a safety. I think I could get through without it.