California Adventure Day 4

Day 4 – May 14

Today we got a later start than we had expected to. I woke up and was very sore. Everything from the waist down hurt. I was definitely old lady status. I didn’t quite know how I was going to hike a “strenuous” hike as a normal hike would’ve been difficult enough. We stopped at Rite Aid and I got some BioFreeze to help loosen things up a little bit.

We drove into Yosemite National Park after staying the night in Mariposa. We got to see a different side of the park on this route. One road had a land slide. They had to put in a temporary bridge across the river to a road and then back across the river to the original road. There was a red light and one way traffic across and back across.

The route was absolutely beautiful. We stopped at a gas station and I got a few pictures of the river. One of the pictures is one of my favorites of the trip.
We made it to the Yosemite Valley area and Siri steered us wrong. We turned too soon and had to come back and wait in line again. It was pretty inconvenient seeing as we were already late to the game and the sun setting was becoming an issue.
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We entered the Yosemite Valley area again and had to wade through traffic to find a parking spot near Yosemite Falls. Out of the three strenuous hiking options we decided to do Upper Yosemite Falls. The hike is about 7.6 miles and a projected 6-8 hours. We began the hike at about 2:40. The plan was I was to go ahead and hike to the top and my Dad would hike at his own pace and get as far as he could and either wait for me to come down to meet him or meet me back at the car.
The hike was very difficult. I think this was the most difficult hike I’ve ever been on. Very steep inclines and not much flat ground to actively rest.
I met quite a few people on the trail. I met two men named Tom and Terry, an older couple, some other half marathoners and other random people.
I met Tom and Terry at an overlook. I had passed them earlier on but they had caught up with me since I stopped to take pictures a lot. This overlook was one of my favorite parts of the hike. There was a remarkable panoramic view of many mountains, trees and of course Half Dome. I took their picture and they took mine. They are originally from North Carolina. Tom is an environmental consultant that now lives in Seattle. We talked for a little while and then I said, “I wonder how much longer we have until we get to the top.” They said that they were turning around at that point. They asked if I was going to make it down before it turned dark. I grabbed my flashlight off of my backpack strap and said, “That is what this is for.” My Dad and I anticipated that I would not get done before dark and had bought a little flashlight at the sporting goods store on Friday thinking we would need it at some point. We parted ways and I continued on.
The older couple I met was so nice. I’m not quite sure where they were from but they had an accent. I kept passing them and then they would pass me as I stopped to take pictures. Every time I passed them I would say, “Hello again!” I ended up taking their picture at two spots on the trail. One at an overlook and the other with a beautiful view of Yosemite Falls. They took my photo at the Yosemite Falls scenic spot with me holding my race bib and medal. We chatted for a bit after the photos. They decided to turn back at this point of the hike. Many people come to this point and take photos and go back. I showed them a picture of my Dad and told them he was somewhere behind me. I told them to say hi to him and tell him to keep going! Later on my Dad told me that they did stop and talk to him. They said he looked really young to have a 20 year old daughter. 🙂

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I met a Crossfitter who ran the Yosemite Half a few years ago. I took his picture at the scenic view of Yosemite Falls too. He had worked at Yosemite National Park one summer. I thought that would be an awesome summer job! He decided to turn back at that point on the trail too. He said he was sore…I said, “Me too!” Then he laughed because obviously I was sore after running a half marathon the day before.
I also met some other fellow half marathoners on the trail. One couple was coming down from the top. They said that the views weren’t quite what they were expecting. They had hiked the Nevada Falls Trail and said that one was really beautiful. I asked if it was worth going to the top and they said it was.
Another girl was wearing a Dallas Cowboys beanie and so I obviously stopped to talk to her. She said I was another 20ish minutes to the top if I didn’t stop. So I said, “Well then, I am going to keep going!”
I finally made it to the top and there was absolutely no one there at the overlook. There were two guys that were leaving the area as I made it to the top. The whole time I was up there no one came. I was the last visitor to the top for the day. I was stalked by a huge black bird. He watched me as I tried to set up my different cameras to take some self portraits with the view. He hung around to see what would happen. I think he was hoping I might fall over the edge or something so that dinner would come a little more easy for him.
It was very cold on top of the mountain. I found my hands going numb yet again. It was a nice motivator for me to hurry up and finish and get on my way back down. The overlook was nice but I understood where the half marathoners were coming from. I had a different expectation of what I would see. But man was it awesome to see the power of the water gushing from above. There was a narrow stairway down to the overlook. Definitely not for someone with a fear of heights.
I wish I would’ve had more time up there as there were multiple trails you could go on. As I was about to head down, I decided to eat some of my Stinger gummies that are made with honey. As soon as I opened the package, a bee start to buzz near my head. I immediately began to think if it didn’t take long for a bee to come buzzing, it might not take long for a bear to come running. I ate them very quickly after that thought.
The way down was interesting. I fully acknowledged this thought in the back of my head that if I fell and hurt myself no one would be coming to my rescue. There was no one following me and certainly at that point no one coming up to the top that late in the day.  My phone had also died at the top of the mountain so I would not be able to contact anyone if something did go wrong.
The trail was definitely physically demanding. Going up was hard but going down required much attention and caution. There was loose gravel, wet rocks, rocks with a coat of dirt that were more slick than the wet rocks and at some points there was water flowing down the middle of the trail. Also, if you remember, my shins and the rest of my legs were hurting pretty good from the downhill run and hiking from yesterday.
I quickly but cautiously made my way down the mountain. I slipped and slided quite a few times but never lost my footing completely. On my way up a girl had fell on her butt and cracked her iPhone screen. I had seen another girl with her arms around her friends trying to make it down the mountain. It looked like she had sprained her ankle or something. My Dad mentioned later that he saw a rescue team come up and help get a large man over 6 feet tall down the mountain.
I still found time to take pictures here and there. I took many photos of the trail itself because the incline was just so intense. I do not think the pictures do it justice.
I ended up passing a few people at the Yosemite Falls scenic point and stopped at my favorite overlook again hoping to get one more good photo. At that point it was getting pretty dark, so I did not get the photo I hoped for. Shortly after stopping at the overlook I turn the flashlight on and welcomed a new challenge. On the way up it was really easy to stay on the trail. On the way down I would be walking and all of a sudden it seemed like I was off the path. And I was. I had to look to the right and see that the path continued around a sharp turn. The trail zigzagged across the mountain.
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Hiking this trail was pretty awesome. I did something that I did not think would be possible the morning of. I hiked the most difficult trail I’ve ever been on after a full day of running a half marathon and hiking other smaller trails. I also hiked in the dark and was able to find my way back to my Dad. Hiking in the dark was a first (unless you count this one time I was still on the trail at Huntsville State Park after dark but I was very familiar with the trail and area). I felt so empowered after all of this.
My Dad was waiting for me at the bottom. He had turned around at the Yosemite Falls scenic point and made it down just before it turned dark. I got to the bottom and finished the hike within the 6 hours while stopping many times to take pictures. I did not see my Dad when I reached the bottom and only saw a path to the shuttle. I took that path and it took me quite a ways down the street. I knew I was heading away from where I wanted to be but I didn’t want to get lost in an unmarked area. So I went down to the shuttle entrance and walked the road back to the car. Little did I know, my Dad had moved the car to the entrance of the trail that we had entered at. I went to where we had parked the car and was relieved and a little frustrated at the same time. Relieved because at that moment I knew that nothing had happened to my Dad on the hike because the car was gone. Since my phone had died on top of the mountain, I was not able to contact him and make sure he was doing ok. I was a little frustrated because at this moment I also did not know where he was. I figured he was probably where we started the trail and made my way that direction and there he was waiting for me. He asked, “How did you end up coming from that direction?” We laughed about it later.
We headed out to Fresno and said goodbye to Yosemite National Park. Now onto the next part of the trip…our drive down the scenic Highway 1.
Check back for Day 4 video!

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