|Looking down Yosemite Falls.|
So, there were actually plenty of people on the trail – not nearly as crowded as the Valley floor or the Mist Trail – but enough people to make the accomplishment seem less than extraordinary. A man of about 28 with an infant strapped to him was slower than us, but mostly because he stopped frequently to calm down his child. A teen girl with her younger brother marched past us down the trail wearing everyday sneakers. The boy slipped and the girl casually grabbed the hood of his sweatshirt and pulled him up; neither paused their forward progress. Still, it is not an easy trail (marked "strenuous" by the 2 sources on trails we had available), and several people we saw near the bottom abandoned the hike early on; others only went halfway up to see the stunning views of the Falls from a midpoint without continuing the trudgery of the remaining switchbacks to the very top.
|A rainbow in the mist of Yosemite Falls.|
Climbing up to the top of Yosemite Falls was largely how we spent our 3rd day in the Park, besides stopping at the base of El Capitan for a beer and some soup for dinner. The prior day we traveled down the Wawona Road to Mosquito Creek and an unmarked trailhead. The goal was to find Alder Creek Falls – a waterfall not nearly as spectacular as those entering Yosemite Valley, but one that would easily be a feature in the region had glaciers not carved out Yosemite Valley over the last 3 million years. The highlights of this hike were seclusion and history. We encountered not a soul on our hike, unless you believe deer, birds, lizards and the like have souls. Plus, the last 3rd of the walk to the falls is along an abandoned, and largely disassembled, logging railroad. Various relics litter the area.
El Capitan was also our destination that early evening with a stroll to the base, looking up at rock climbers.
|Looking up at El Capitan.|
It's not that I'm afraid of heights as much as I'm afraid of death. You're pretty far up at Taft Point and only one small portion has a railing. Much of the area along these cliffs over Yosemite Valley is just one unprotected dizzy spell away from a 4000 foot drop onto a group of tourists getting off their bus for the first time since the stop in Fresno. As I approached the edge I found myself wanting to get on hands and knees to minimize any chance of such an accident. But I really wanted to look over the edge, in part because the view was amazing, but also because it was something few people do, and something I wouldn't have many opportunities to do in my lifetime. Yosemite is an amazing and rare piece of earth, and this area around Glacier Point is a prime viewing spot.
Leading up to Taft Point are The Fissures – cracks in the earth that wedge into the sides of the cliffs and add another dimension to the anxious wonder of this part of the Park.
|Panoramic view from Sentinel Dome.|
That was the climax of this visit to Yosemite. We drove back down into the Valley after that and scrambled up the lower part of Sentinel Creek for a mini-picnic looking up at Sentinel Falls and marveling at the fact that we were way up there just a few hours ago. The next morning, any hope of one last hike was dashed by rainfall. By noon, we were eating bean burritos in the Central Valley and looking forward to reuniting with our dogs.