Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Upper Yosemite Before Sunset
With a day behind us in Yosemite, we'd already hiked to the top of a waterfall...or two.
We had stood beneath the tallest trees, feeling grateful under their presence.
But we had yet to surmount the falls of Yosemite - also known as Yosemite Falls - Upper and Lower. Guess which one we tackled...
Our original plan for the day was to hike down into the Valley from Glacier Point, however the road was closed - as they tend to be in winter months. The ranger at our camp, Taylor Linzey, suggested we hike to the top of Upper Yosemite Falls - a popular, yet grueling climb. Perfectly motivated yet perfectly exhausted from our hike up to Vernal and Nevada, we began our 7 mile (round-trip) adventure around noon on the Valley Floor.
Linzey was right indeed - the ascent is a climb, literally. Along the trail, while moving from switchback to switchback, all I could think of was the knee-breaking descent we eventually would face. And then I saw this:
and I felt we were getting closer...
...and closer we were...and the colors caught my eye!
There's nothing like a rainbow to make you want to run up a hill. After that (and after stopping for lunch) I was insanely driven to get to the top of Upper Yosemite. We also had another motivational factor. Aside from looking out onto the Valley Floor from the top of the waterfall, we had another goal - to get back down there to capture the sunset from Sentinel Bridge. Unaware of when exactly the sun set in Yosemite, all we had was how the light filtered through the trees, to tell us the time.
By the time we reached our plateau, (after 3.4 miles) I'd gone completely gaga for this hike. Obviously, I was thrilled our 'up-hill' battle had ceased. Also, the trees were some of the most beautiful trees I'd ever seen. Tall, green, eclectic - I wanted to climb, hug and cherish them all! This spot reminded me a lot of another place Liz and I went camping - Desolation Wilderness. A Greek chorus of trees surrounded by an amphitheater of granite - it feels like you're on another planet. The best part about it is that we took ourselves there - it was all us.
After a minute or two of giddily prancing around the area, we found the overlook and with shaky legs went as far as we could. We had company too! A few other hikers made it to the top - with their dog! and there were 3 or 4 crows enjoying the view.
See the bird?
It's not long after you've taken in the view that the reality kicks in - we've got to get back down to the Valley Floor. But the light was so beautiful and the weather so crisp that I couldn't wait to see it all again. Normally, I prefer loop trails - but in Yosemite, it's worth seeing everything twice. Or three or four times. Once we became a bit delirious on the foot numbing jaunt back down, I was seeing Half Dome in small rocks and steps - in all shapes and forms - along the way. We made it to the floor and onto Sentinel Bridge!! Just in time for a perfectly festive, Halloween Half Dome.
Once again, we weren't alone. Others knew about the jack pot. This was where Ansel Adams took one of his famous Half Dome photographs. So in the grand tradition of Yosemite, we all put on our Ansel hats, and snapped away...