West Coast Road Trip – Day 26 
Friday, April 9, 2010, 12:23 AM
Posted by Administrator
It was a beautiful clear day, but we spent a while relaxing in the dining hall until it warmed up to a reasonable temperature. Then, we drove to the historic Ahwahnee Lodge to admire the architecture, as well as the waterfall that ended just outside their parking lot.

Next, we tackled the Upper Falls Trail of Yosemite Falls. While I knew it was a 7.6-mile hike with 2,600 feet of elevation gain, I truly did not appreciate how tough it would be. I got my first hint when the trail began with 60 switchbacks in the first mile. Yes, 60.

At the half-way point, I was rewarded with a gorgeous view of the upper falls.

Then, the real challenge began. The trail remained just as steep, but now there was also snow. Lots of snow. Luckily, it was soft and previous hikers had paved the way to some degree, but it was a slow slog.

Paul went ahead, so that he could take his time with photos, but also because I was unsure whether I would make it to the top. I had never hiked through snow before and wasn’t sure how I or my boots would hold up.

There were a few points when I considered whether I should continue, but then would look up and see how close I was getting to the top. At one point, I stopped a descending hiker to ask how close I was. He gave me some encouragement along with instructions regarding a confusing trail sign. Explaining that, once at the top, you can descend slightly to an overlook with a railing, he said, “Don’t stop until you’re hanging over the railing!” This became a kind of mantra for the remainder of my hike.

Very close to the top, the snow became quite deep and I stopped to put on an extra layer. It had turned quite warm by this point and I had stripped down to just a t-shirt. I got a little off the trail at one point and had to post-hole my way over to the real trail with the snow coming up past my knees.

Paul had given me a 50/50 chance of making it and so he was quite happy to see me at the top. He led me down to the overlook and it was gratifying to see how far I had come.

It had taken us 3 hours for the ascent and would take another 2 hours to get back down. I was dismayed by the large number of ill-prepared hikers I encountered – people wearing tennis shoes and not carrying supplies of any kind.

As a childless adult, I make it a general rule not to judge parents. However, I seriously wondered if CPS should be called on the parents who were dragging their kids up this mountain. I saw kids who must have been as young as 5 years old slipping and falling on the narrow, snow-covered trail.

We arrived back at Yosemite Village dirty, hungry and, in Paul’s case, slightly injured. He had slipped and dislocated his thumb which was swollen for a few hours and sore for a few days. But, we were pleased with our epic hike.

While we had planned to spend one more night at Yosemite, we determined that we had really seen all that we could. There were other areas of the park, but they were closed until late May or early June - whenever the snow melts. We decided to check out early and enjoy the luxury of a warm hotel room in Fresno. It was heavenly.

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