Yosemite, that is. Though, you’re beautiful too, human.
I’ve wanted to go to Yosemite for a long, long time. I’ve also wanted to solo backpack and felt the need to get my toes back into the nature-world by going camping and hiking. I asked my brothers if they’d like to join and then we spent some time planning, securing a camp, and sharing a checklist.
We got in on a Thursday and set up camp, drove around in the gorgeous valley, saw how epic El Capitan and The Half Dome really were, and got ready for the weekend’s adventures. We were up early every day heading to the trail head to get to our destination earlier than the tourists. Overall, we walked/hiked about 10 miles per day and were up to almost 10,000 ft in elevation. I hit over 95,300 steps and climbed almost 197 floors - according to my Health app.
Yosemite is stunning. El Capitan is bigger and more beautiful than expected and there’s nothing like watching the sun hit The Dawn Wall. There are trails for everyone all over the valley and the surrounding areas and there is almost zero cell reception. The forced disconnection made me feel so free. I missed it the moment I left that Monday. I hope to be back one day when I can climb with some friends.
Mirror Lake/Valley Loop Trail
We stayed in the lower valley so that a couple of us could get used to lower elevation and to just explore the entire valley floor.
12.7 total trail miles
28:13 average pace (per mile)
5:57:04 moving time
6:18:59 total time
3,947ft - 4,230ft in elevation
Cathedral Lakes Trail
This was my favorite hike of the week. We climbed over 1,000 feet of elevation to the most beautiful mountain lakes. Short of breath and a little woozy, they were such gorgeous lakes on a cool day. We started the hike in 40 degree weather and had the most beautiful walk back as it warmed up.
9.7 trail miles
28:57 avg pace
4:39:55 moving time
5:44:46 total time
8,496ft - 9,674ft in elevation
The sequoia trees…man…WOW. They can be thousands of years old and taller than can fit in a picture that isn’t a vertical panorama. Amazing hike, lots of people, but still found some quiet time to reflect on the amazingness that is our Mother Earth.
I started the trail recording late. ~7 trail miles
28:10 avg pace
2:48:44 moving time
2:50:52 total time
5,544ft - 6,699ft in elevation
Instead of climbing a strenuous hike up to Glacier Point, we drove there and hiked to the tip. The tourists were everywhere, there were a line of cars to get into the place, but the views were unbeatable. Worth it. It seems they are closing down the roads in 2021 so that they can redo a lot of the roads and add parking (as it’s a super hot spot), so next time I guess I’ll have to take the hike up The 4 Mile trail…I’m not mad about it.
Also started the recording late. ~1 mile walk
~25:00 total time
The Dawn Wall
Not a hike…but on our last day we got up and left camp about 5:45am to reach the valley floor in order to watch sunrise hit the appropriately named side of El Capitan..The Dawn Wall.
It was breathtaking and I could watch that every day of my life.
This was the last hike of our trip. We reached the trailhead at about 7:30am and there were already people on the trail. This trail, The Mist Trail, leads to two waterfalls, the lower is Vernal, and the upper is Nevada. If we didn’t just hit hiking hard the entire trip, we’d likely have done both of them. However, our bodies said just one today and it wasn’t like it was an easy trail. A steep uphill hike followed by over 600 ottoman-sized stairs led to the top of Vernal Falls…then we took about 200 more up to take a different way back via the John Muir trail and its downhill switchbacks. It was incredibly satisfying passing hoards of tourists looking miserable at the beginning of the hike as we ended ours...’it doesn’t get any better, dudes - it actually gets worse’ we all thought. From there, we had our first shower (in 6 days), walked to the diner to eat some delicious barbecue and toasted to the end of our beautiful time in Yosemite.
5.2 trail miles
31:49 avg pace
2:45:29 moving time
2:57:44 total time
3,933ft - 5,611ft in elevation
I’ll be back, Yosemite.
But now, I force myself to unpack so that I can start planning my next backpacking adventure.