Copyright © Deborah Zajac. All Rights Reserved
For my birthday this year the only thing I wanted was to hike up Upper Yosemite Fall Trail to the base of the Upper Yosemite Fall to see if there was a rainbow up there, and with luck I’d see some Dogwoods that I had heard were blooming in the valley. I asked Heman if he could go with me. Lucky me, he freed up his calendar enabling us to spend the day together hiking.
We left home just after 6AM with a coffee stop in Gilroy, and a lunch stop in Mariposa. Then we drove straight into Yosemite Valley. We started our hike just before noon, and went to Lower Yosemite Falls first. I thought the trail head to the Upper falls was near there, but turned out I was wrong it’s a lot closer to the Lodge. So we hiked over to the trail head extending our hike.
The weather was gorgeous, but for hiking it was on the warm side at 75º. We were shedding layers soon after we started the ascent up Upper Yosemite Fall Trail.
Neither one of us had ever hiked this particular trail before, nor did I have any idea what to expect. I thought we’d be up and down in about 4 hours.
After hiking this trail I read it described as the “the mother of all Stairmaster workouts.” That is a very accurate description! This trail is very, very rugged. 90% of the way up it’s very rocky. For my friends who have hiked Mission Peak this hike is like the last 300ft of the trail to the Pole. That rocky and steep all the way up. There is a nice flat part of the trail at a ridge line once you make it up to the base of Upper Yosemite Fall, but it’s too short. You’re climbing and picking your way though the rocks again all too soon.
There were 4 streams running down the mountain and trail that we traversed. There was no way to keep your shoes from being wet. If you didn’t have waterproof shoes you had wet feet. Fear of slippery rocks kept the pace slow too.
Below the base of Upper Yosemite Fall at a look out spot aptly called “Oh, my gosh! Point” one gets a great view of all 3 falls; Upper, Middle, and Lower cascading down the mountain, and when I got there I saw a double rainbow! I lost my sunglasses to the mountain here. My Hobie’s came unhooked from my shoulder harness and went flying over the cliff face. I’ll miss those glasses, but it was the only mishap of the whole day so I won’t complain… too much. From here we hiked up to view the base of Upper Yosemite Falls. You get a little wet here. It felt nice and cool on this warm afternoon.
We continued to climb higher than the base of Upper Yosemite Fall for another hour. After we reached the hour more mark we took stock of our situation. To make it all the way to the top of the mountain it would have taken another hour of climbing and from here the terrain gets rougher. I was nearly out of water, and we were beginning to get hungry. I had brought along a little treat for us both, 2 mini chocolate cupcakes that I purchased at the coffee shop in the morning, but they were really mini, and were totally empty of good calories. It was after 3PM; we’d been climbing for more than 3 hours by then, and we knew the trip down would be slow since the terrain was so rough and rugged. We decided to head down.
Half Dome, Upper Yosemite Fall, and the top of the rainbow. The highest point I went.
I didn’t think I’d need my poles. Was I ever wrong… I really could have used them to help pull myself up the huge rocks, and coming down they would have helped ease the pressure on my knees. One does a lot heavy landing coming down from this trail as so many of the rocks are big so the steps down are hard in the sense that you’re landing hard on your feet.
Biggest surprise of the hike. How crowded this trail was! For a Thurs. in early May the park was very busy. This trail is Single track all the way so passing and being passed was tight. I was stunned that this trail was so popular.
I’m counting this hike as a “strengthening hike” for my training to Cloud’s Rest. I definitely worked harder than I thought I would.
The views of the valley, and falls are spectacular! It’s worth the effort. Take plenty of water, snacks, and your trekking poles.
This was a birthday I won’t soon forget.
Hike elevation at start 3,772 ft
Hike elevation at End 5,413 ft
Total elevation climbed 2,119 ft
Average Speed 2.4 mph
Total Miles hiked 6.63m
Total time: 5h40m
Nikon D300s| Nikkor 17-35mm & Nikkor 70-300mmVR| Induro C213 tripod
Copyright © Deborah Zajac. All Rights Reserved.