Day 14: Yosemite Falls and Yosemite Point

Fierce. Warriors. Beasts. Badasses. Fearless. Hikers.

The only way to sum up what Zoe and Ellie did today. I’m so proud. My heart is bursting.

After a surprisingly good night’s sleep (for me) we woke up at 4:30. It was still pitch black as we reloaded the car with every scented item it holds. All our food. All our toiletries. All of it. I chugged a can of cold coffee and we made the drive to the Yosemite Falls parking lot. We buckled our day packs, tightened our boots, and began heading to the trailhead.

This was an epic hike, one for the books, one for us to be proud of. If we could do it. There were only two other groups on the trail with us: a group of five we played leapfrog with most of the hike and a group of three that passed us for good a couple of miles in.

The temperature was cool, in the 60s and we were completely in the shade of the giant sky rocks that towered above us. The sun was slowly rising and casting magnificent light on the rocks.

The hike was steep. We hiked up 3,600 feet today. Four miles on the way up, four miles back to the trailhead. 3,600 feet. 3,654 to be exact. Imagine standing on Adams Street in Chicago looking up at Willis Tower. Then deciding to walk to the very tippy top. Then, before heading back down, you plopped another Willis Tower right on top and walk to the very top of it again. Then going all the way down to the ground from the two skyscrapers stacked. That’s what Zoe and Ellie did today. Beasts, they are.

The way up was so beautiful. Half Dome kept coming into view. The buildings of Yosemite Valley got increasingly smaller as we made our way higher. Eventually we turned a corner and “wows” escaped our mouths in whispers. Yosemite Falls was in view. And it was up close and felt personal. At first the mist dampened our sweaty skin, but as we kept getting closer, the power of the falls was felt and we were soon drenched. The noise. It was so loud. Like constant thunder or a freight train. And the beauty. Just watching the water fall all those hundreds and hundreds of feet was mesmerizing. Despite the show of the waterfall, we kept on trecking.

Up, up, and up. We didn’t start this hike to see Yosemite Falls. We started it to be at the top and then beyond. Slow mile after slow mile, we kept on putting one foot in front of the other. At no point during our hike did either girl complain once. Not a single mutter of the steepness. Or the uneven, rocky trail. Or of the sun that was creeping higher. Or of sore feet, or legs, or knees, or anything. They never verbalized doubt or questioned the craziness of doing such a hike. Not once. Instead we laughed, told jokes, and mostly, just focused on our footing.

About three hours after stepping off we reached the first destination, the top of Upper Yosemite Falls. And what a disappointment. It reminded me so much of the hike we did a few years ago to the top of the Hollywood sign where all you could see is the “HO.” If we leaned way over the metal railing we could kind of see the water rushing down. But that was scary. I only did once for a brief moment. We stayed for a few minutes, then backtracked our steps to a clearing for some beef jerky. It was 9:00 in the morning, after all, the perfect time for beef jerky.

Before long, we began the mile hike to our second destination of the hike, Yosemite Point. And this was worth it. We were alone at the overlook and Half Dome was at our eye level. What a rock. It’s massiveness demands so much awe. Yosemite Valley was so far below. Cars looked like insects and we couldn’t make out people. El Capitan was to our right and didn’t seem as tall as it does from the floor of the valley. It was lovely and we spent a good amount of time taking it all in.

Eventually, we started the decent. Immediately, we knew it was going to be more difficult than coming up. Ellie slipped at one point and we pulled the first aid kit back out to bandage her knee. It’s all good though. The hike was tough. It’s hard to navigate a trail made of rocks, especially when going down so much. All of our focus was on careful placement of our feet. The farther down we got the thicker the crowds got. They made it more stressful, because we needed focus to make good decisions with our footing. And it’s really hard to focus when you’re surrounded by people making stupid choices. On that note, just a PSA, don’t take a poop in the middle of a trail. Ever. And, yes, apparently it needs to be stated.

We stopped once for lunch, and a handful of times for super short breaks, but we kept on moving to get back to the trailhead. And we did. And I felt so proud of us all. Especially Zoe and Ellie. I really can’t tell you how difficult this hike was and how awesome their attitude was. The hiking websites said this hike takes somewhere between six and ten hours. We did it in 5 hours and 43 minutes of hiking time.

We made it back to the car and headed out of Yosemite. Zak and I took turns driving the six hours to Red Bluff, California, each snoozing as the passenger. The highlight of the drive was a stop at the one and only In-N-Out of the trip.

We are almost to Red Bluff. We’re caked in dirt and dried sweat. We smell. A lot. We’re tired. But it was all worth it.

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