17 June 2013

Yosemite! Day 5


Up at 7.30(ish), feeling much better after a nasty day on Tuesday. S and I headed back into the valley for our last day in the park. We started with a small hike around the base of Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfall in North America (and the 5th largest in the world). The falls are all at their most dramatic at this time of year, and in the next few weeks, as the snowmelt runs out, they'll lose some awesomeness. Fortunately, they were showing off for us that day:

I also finally got a picture of this dark blue jay that I had been trying to shoot all week. 

At noon, we hopped on a tram tour through the valley with Ranger Eric, a 22-year veteran of the park who, as the tram loped around the valley floor, told us stories about the development of the park from geological, biological, and sociological perspectives. We both enjoyed the tour, but I think it would have been something to do on our first day, not our last day.

Along the tour, we saw rock climbers scaling the face of El Capitan!

And, naturally, Ranger Eric took us to some photogenic spots. Here's a shot of Half Dome resplendent in summer light:

After the tour, I was still a little foggy, so S and I grabbed lunch before beginning our last hike. We wanted to hike the Vernal Falls/Nevada Falls trail, which led to two dramatic waterfalls. But, we had been advised that the hike was pretty strenuously vertical (the trail guide says over 600 stair steps). S's back was still a mess, and I was still getting over the cold, but we gave it our best shot. We made it up to the top of Vernal Falls (S counted - 641 stair steps), which was beautiful and dramatic and dangerous, but we decided against going up to Nevada Falls. Best not to push our luck.

The last section of the hike up to Vernal Falls takes you right along the falls. This section is called the Mist Trail, for good reason - we got wet, and saw multiple double rainbows. Once at the top of Vernal Falls, I deshoed and cooled my feet in the snowmelt. My feet went numb from the cold. Excellent.

Back down to the base, then pizza for dinner, back to the Lodge to pack, and get a good night's sleep. So long Yosemite - we'll be back for sure!

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