Welcome back to California! For those who missed Part 1, it is here. We begin this part in Merced, California, where Leigh and I get to sleep in a bit because we’re close to the bus station and it doesn’t leave until 9. Unfortunately, I am a bit paranoid about missing planes and buses, especially in a situation where I’ve never been! We were there in plenty of time… 🙂
The bus ride on this Monday morning in March was uncrowded and uneventful (the way we like them) and it was nice to be able to watch the scenery rather than the road. We arrived around 11:30 at what is now called the Yosemite Valley Lodge. We checked in, dumped our luggage, and went outside.
Out in the parking lot, we look up and (wow!) see Upper Yosemite Falls.
Leigh says “Let’s go to the top!”
“But that’s like a 3-1/2 or 4-hour hike! It’ll be dark before we get down!”
“Then we’d better get started…”
Who can argue with that logic? 🙂
We loaded up with water and snacks, did a quick loop past the Lower Falls, and headed up the Upper Yosemite Falls trail (thanks, Alltrails!). This is a fun trail, but it can be challenging (rated 5 stars and hard!). Much of the trail is over stone, some laid by the NPS and some by nature. That stone is mostly covered with sand, making it often quite slippery – but I managed up & down with only 1 spill… 🙂 Much credit goes to the Trailbuddy trekking poles we now have! Bring some along if you’re hiking the trails in Yosemite…
We made it to the top! And it felt good!
And Leigh says “Let’s keep going!”
After all, Yosemite Point is just another mile or so…
Just as an aside, this is what the same view of the falls looked like last time we were in Yosemite, in September 2015! If you look really closely you can see the trickle of water in the center.
And we kept on going. Sure enough, after just another mile or so, we came to Yosemite Point. Of course, some of that was through snow and ice!
We didn’t carry the crampons with us, but the snowy part of the trail wasn’t that long and when we got to the Point…
The view was rather amazing as sunset approached. The color changes on Half Dome were fabulous and we really enjoyed the show! Having failed to learn my lesson from previous experience, I was reminded that there is a drawback to watching sunset from the top of a mountain: you walk down in the dark! The walk down was even more of an adventure than the climb up!
The trail between Yosemite point and the top of Yosemite falls crosses a lot of rock so it’s not easy to follow, and the twilight was fading. Fortunately, we had Alltrails! (Have I mentioned Alltrails? 🙂 ) It kept us going in the right direction. Also fortunately, I had a headlamp and two flashlights! (I have learned some lessons! 🙂 )Once we reached the bridge, the path was much clearer. And of course, the view on the way down was just a little bit different! And Leigh just barely got frostbite while she was waiting for me to take this one:
I’m afraid that you’ll have to come to my next show (Urban Artist Market, May 8-9, Addison, TX) (assuming it doesn’t get cancelled! 😦 ) to get the full effect when I have it printed… 🙂
We got down to the bottom of the mountain and back to the room a little before 10:00 and aimed for a good night’s rest. After almost 20 miles and the equivalent of 444 flights of stairs (according to my wife’s fitbit) it wasn’t hard to get to sleep!
Tuesday morning I suggested we stay closer to the valley floor. In fact, I rather wanted to go scout the area around Mirror Lake and see if there was anything interesting going on there. We over to the Swinging Bridge, then to check out Yosemite Village to the facilities , and on up Tenaya Creek.
The bridge itself wasn’t looking too exciting, but from the bridge we had this view up the Merced river. There was a breeze, so the water was rippling a bit. I rather liked the effect on the reflections in this shot.
As we crossed a meadow on the way toward Yosemite Village, I picked up a passenger…
The moon was rising over Half Dome as we walked toward the Lake.
I checked out a few locations for possible shots, we made a new feline friend, and we walked all the way around the lake.
After we went for a meal we returned to Mirror Lake for some nighttime reflections. And one Half Dome shot with no reflection at all.
We got to our room before anybody got frostbite!
Having barely exercised on Tuesday (a mere 15 miles, 59 stair-flight-equivalents), we got more ambitious Wednesday, setting our sights on Vernal and Nevada Falls. Alltrails (have I mentioned Alltrails? 🙂 ) lists that at 8.8 miles. Our hikes always seem longer than they say…
Anyway, we shuttled over to stop 16 and headed up the Mist Trail. The trail’s an up-and back, so we passed by the falls twice. These shots of vernal falls are from the return journey, because there was a rainbow…
Note the strategically placed trekking poles… 🙂
After topping Vernal Falls, we were in the small minority that continued on toward Nevada Falls. The scenery was spectacular!
Not much over a mile past Vernal Falls, you reach Nevada Falls. Here’s a shot from below and above:
We thought we might try coming back by the John Muir Trail, but for various reasons (like ice on the trail!) we went back the way we came…
We got down not too long after dark, and went to eat. Then we went out in the cold! Again! The moon wasn’t even full, but it was astonishingly bright, the landscape stood out clearly against the night sky. I hope freezing my wife all these nights was worth it!
For that day we did just under 16 miles and almost 200 flights of stairs (equivalent). Good thing we train up on actual stairs!
That was our last night in Yosemite, the next day we bussed back to Merced, jumped in the car and drove down to Soledad. My next post will be our Pinnacles National Park adventures. Stay Tuned!