Sunday, September 4, 2011
From lazing about a beach, crocheting doilies and playing fetch with the Pacific Ocean, we went right to the MOST INTENSE PHYSICAL CHALLENGE OF OUR ENTIRE LIVES (caps lock necessary).
We stayed at the backpacker campground in Yosemite Valley Tuesday night, and the next day J and I put on our 25-35 lb backpacks to hike 9 miles with a ~3,500 ft ascent. We began with our trailhead at Happy Isles, then we took the populous Mist Trail to Vernal and Nevada Fall. A tiny piece of the switchback-ridden, virtually deserted John Muir Trail took us to the Panorama Trail with outstanding views of the back of Half Dome and the waterfalls. Once we reached Illilouette Creek, and saw Illilouette Fall from 1,000 ft higher, we pitched our tent with an unbelievable view of Half Dome.
The next day, we awoke to an additional 2.5 mile hike with a 500 ft incline. BUT. We arrived at Glacier Point feeling exhausted, but okay. We ate lunch and enjoyed the amazing views for awhile. There was the ever so slight possibility of waving $50 cash at a bus driver to take take us down the 3,000 ft decline to Yosemite Valley, if there was space, but that's expensive and kinda risky. So we decided to finish our entire hike as planned. Four-mile trail was one of the most grueling experiences of my life. Most people think the knees would be most affected by going downhill, but in this case my shoulders and the balls of my feet were in excruciating quantities of pain. By some previously unknown force of will, I narrowly avoided collapsing in the middle of the trail and bawling my eyes out. I decided that surrendering to my self pity would be too embarrassing.
The elevation plot from our GPS, so even if you can't feel our pain, you can see it.
You can sort of see where we started our hike near the Ahwanee Hotel in the middle of the photo (close to the cliffside, just above where the Merced River is obstructed by trees). This photo was taken from Glacier Point, our highest peak.
We did indeed make it to the bottom of the mountain. The entire hike was an approximate 17 miles horizontal with a 4,000 ft vertical incline.
While climbing the rocky stairs alongside the Vernal and Nevada Falls, people regularly mumbled "I could never do that" as we trudged past. This is funny to me, because up until a few months ago, I really could not do what I just did. Training. That's the way to go.
Some highlights from the hike:
- Everything was so damn pretty.
- We were not attacked by bears.
- The foot-numbing waters of Illilouette Creek.
- Finally being able to fit all the food and scented toiletries into the bear vault on the second day.
- Discovering that I am allergic to California wilderness.
- Victory ice cream atop Glacier Point.
- Total disbelief that we had made it up to Glacier Point.
We spent the third night back in the Yosemite Valley Backpacker campground, and the next half-day was spent doing short park-and-hike walks to the foot of Yosemite Fall and Bridalveil Fall. Our bodies were too sore to do anything that required going either up or downhill.
As usual, there's more photos up on my 'California: Yosemite Valley' flickr set.