Jim got into Phoenix Tuesday evening. That night we decided Yosemite was
the place to go. We did some planning, and then we woke up the next day
and, after hitting the supermarket, drove the 10 hours from Phoenix to
Yosemite NP. Actually, 10 hours took us to Fish Camp, CA, a tiny little
town that is about 2 miles outside the Route 41 entrance to the park. On
the drive from Phoenix we called Yosemite to see if we could make
reservations for that night, or if we would have a chance at the
first-come, first-served "Camp 4" campsite in Yosemite Valley. The first
question got a solid "no"; the second question at least got a "most likely
not." We decided not to take our chances/waste our time by driving an
hour into the park to Camp 4 to find out the camp was full. It was
getting late anyways, so after talking to the helpful ranger at the gate,
we went to the Goat Meadow Winter Sports Area located less than a mile
from the gate. There were no facilities there, but we didn't care. We
just made sure we got rid of all the open food in my car in order not to
attract bears. A few people with horse trailers were in the area, but
other than that the site was very empty. Tons of birds sang at twilight
and at dawn the next day.
The next day we woke up early and drove into Yosemite to the Valley. It
was beautiful. When we got to Camp 4 there was already a line at the
ranger hut. We got in line and we ended up getting a camp site. Camp 4
is basically just a giant area of tents and bearproof boxes. After we set
up camp we took a hike up to the top of Yosemite Falls. Upper Yosemite
Falls and Lower Yosemite Falls together comprise a 2400' drop. At the
bottom of Upper Yosemite Falls the water looks like it has completely
turned into mist. Yosemite Valley is very steep and deep, so the
waterfalls are amazing.
Here's me at the top:
And here's what it looked like behind me:
The next day we did the 15.2-mile, 10-hour round trip hike to the top of
Half Dome, elevation 8836'.
It was very hard (the ~4800' elevation gain is tough) but it was the most
amazing thing. We started on the Mist Trail, which heads up the Merced
River past Vernal Falls (317' drop) and Nevada Falls (594'). We took this
picture the next day from Washburn Point. You can see both falls and Half
Mist Trail is kind of a misnomer; sure it is just mist from the waterfall,
but it completely soaks you as if you are out in a downpour.
Jim, resting up at the saddle for the final section to the summit:
Did I mention that last section is a 45-degree, 900' elevation
gain that requires cables and gloves?
By the way, about halfway up the cables I saw a Peregrine Falcon go
screaming by the dome. I saw a pair of falcons the next day, thanks to
some help from a friendly volunteer ranger.
When you get to the summit of Half Dome, you can look straight down
into the valley. STRAIGHT DOWN. Who is that crazy person right on the
edge of this 4800' drop?:
Let's get a close-up:
Why, it's JIM!
The next day we drove around and saw a few more of the roadside
Yosemite sites, including this pretty good view. On the left is the 3600'
granite monolith known as El Capitan. In the center, way in the back, is
Half Dome. On the right is the 620' Bridalveil Falls: