08 June 2011

Did we really walk that far?

Shortly after arriving in Yosemite, we decided to tackle our first walk. The guide described the hike to the top of Vernal Fall and then on to the top of Nevada Fall as a strenuous walk of just over 8km round trip with an altitude gain of 1900 feet (579 metres). Both sets of falls did not disappoint, and we were almost as impressed with the small kids taking on the walk with their parents. How they were managing the sometimes foot high rock steps with their little legs, I'm not quite sure. Tomorrow we plan tackle the walk to the top of Yosemite Fall, a 11.6km round trip, with a 2700 feet (823 metre) altitude gain rated very strenuous, but we don't know how our legs will feel yet.

This morning our legs were only vaguely sore (surprisingly), so we set off to the top of Yosemite Falls. Two things we find interesting about Yosemite Falls:

  1. They're the fifth highest falls in the world and the highest in North America

  2. They're fed almost entirely by snow melt meaning they dry up later in the year (absolutely no sign of a lack of snow today though)

Very strenuous is accurate, the trail was a combination of uneven rock steps, and very steep path, zig-zagging enthusiastically. Not far in, I realised the disadvantage of Brad leading is my pathetic legs can't keep up with his bike rider ones. Brad then has a little rest while I catch up, and we start all over again as soon as I do. When I pointed this out, “no pain, no gain” was the response from the man 3 metres in front, leisurely sipping a bottle of water. I should point out there are also many advantages for Brad leading, including having to take little responsibility when we go the wrong way, and the slippery rocks being discovered before I step on them.

After several hours of climbing we arrived at the top of the falls ... at the same time as a snow storm sent us scurrying under a rock for shelter. Brad hurriedly zipped on the lower half of his new “outdoors man” trousers, and decided that, given he was only wearing a t-shirt and had brought no other clothes, my white long sleeve one looked mighty tempting. Fortunately for Brad it's very stretchy, has always been a little large on me and is a lot warmer than it looks. Unfortunately for me, I doubt washing will bring it back to my size. Despite the weather we decided to continue on another mile to Yosemite Point, gaining a further 100 metres in altitude. The views down to the valley floor were amazing, and it was then we had some perspective of just how high we'd climbed.

The snow and rain continued all the way down, making progress slow and significantly more slippery (Mrs. Accident Prone only fell once, and must admit this occurred on the rare occasion Brad was leading, illustrating) and our aching bodies were glad for a drink before returning to Gil.

Walking tomorrow may not be an option and Brad may possibly to boost me into bed tonight. I don't think I've mentioned, Gil doesn't have a ladder for climbing into the upstairs bed, so one has to enthusiastically hurdle themselves up about as gracefully as a sea lion on a rock. (We spent sometime watching the sea lions in Monterrey, they're not so graceful once out of the water).

Surprisingly, walking yesterday was possible, and after a few gentle strolls around meadows and lakes, I decided to take on the Valley Floor loop. Brad kindly pointed out that although the walk was rated moderate, it was 21kms long and therefore a half marathon. He then promptly decided he wouldn't be joining me on said walk. Determined to take advantage of every walking opportunity I set out and enjoyed some time to myself and new perspectives of the valley. I spent a considerable amount of time trying to figure out just what gave the trail a moderate rating other than its length and came up with the following:

  1. Moderate chance of seeing a bear. I didn't but saw some evidence they had been around.

  2. Moderate chance of having to leave the trail and head (hopefully) in the direction of the road due to an impassible stream. I'd rate this as high today as I had to do it multiple times.

  3. Moderate chance of getting wet feet due to above mentioned streams or marshy puddles. Again, today this was high. For the fourth time in two weeks, I have soggy hiking shoes and am contemplating a gumboot purchase (Brad says no).

The trails to the top of Half Dome and Glacier Point are still closed, so three waterfalls and a half marathon will have to do for now.

In case you're wondering, our memories of Yosemite didn't fail, we'll be grinning for a while.

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