Thursday, June 18, 2009

California Trip Report: Hiking Yosemite with my Mom

My mom and I at the top of Quarter Dome (right before the big push up to Half Dome)

After driving up to Sacramento from the Kern, I dropped Gareth off at the airport (he had to fly to Philadelphia to teach a swiftwater rescue course for a few days) and picked up my mom so that we could spend a few days exploring Yosemite National Park.

From the second I arrived in Yosemite valley I was blown away by the scenery. I was immediately surrounded by so many huge waterfalls and granite domes that I did not know how to take it all in. The first day we took a hike up to the Cathedral lakes (located at almost 10,000 feet). The hike was interesting as a good bit of it was in the snow and we managed to get pretty lost to the point that we almost turned around. Fortunately we found our way back on the trail and were able to enjoy the breathtaking views from the lakes (my camera was malfunctioning so no pictures).

The following morning we went for the most epic day hike ever, and the most famous in Yosemite- the Half Dome hike. The hike up to Half Dome involves over 17 miles of hiking and an accent and descent of 4,800 feet. My mom had been a little nervous about taking on such a hike, but was also the one that really pushed us to do it. Following the advice of others, we woke up at 4am to start our epic day in order to avoid the afternoon storms and masses of people also attempting the hike. The trail began without much warm up as we climbed up over 2,000 feet of elevation in our first three miles past two spectacular waterfalls.

Eventually we made it up out of the Yosemite Valley and across the Little Yosemite Valley, before starting to climb again, this time headed towards the top of Half Dome. Before reaching the infamous cable section of the climb, you must first walk up the steep granite steps of Quarter Dome. Because of her extreme fear of heights, this was extremely difficult for my mom, as the steps are not exactly lined with railings. I was very proud of her for making it to the top of Quarter Dome and approved of her decision to stop there. The climb up to the top of Half Dome looked steeper than I ever imagined, and I was nervous for myself, let alone my mom.

Deaths on the climb up to Half Dome are not uncommon, and there was actually a death there last Saturday (which was comforting to hear as we were about to start the hike). The climb involves a very steep granite grade, lined by cables which you use to literally pull yourself up the rock. It was full on to say the least. I cannot believe so many people do it, and I am surprised there aren't more deaths. I made it to the top without many troubles and took some time to take in the 360 degree view of Yosemite Valley and its surroundings.

A view from the top of Half Dome

Another view from the top of Half Dome

Me looking down into the valley from the top

The infamous cables (this is on a not so steep section, there was no way I was pulling my camera out during the steepest part)

A view from the hike down

After such an exhausting day, My mom and I decided to spend our final day in Yosemite a bit more relaxed. We started off with a drive to Glacier Point where we were granted some spectacular views of the park.

The Yosemite Valley including upper and lower Yosemite Falls

A nice view of Half Dome (the left most granite dome) and Nevada Falls

Following Glacier point, we drove a little ways and arrived at the trail head of Taft Point, a little 2.2 mile hike with relatively easy terrain. At the end of the hike we were given some great views of the valley from a different perspective.

Me hanging out at Taft Point

After an awesome lunch at the grand Ahwahnee Hotel (the most expensive hotel in the park), we decided to head over to El Capitan to watch some of the climbers do their thing on the world's largest piece of granite monolith rock.

Me free climbing the first twenty feet of El Capitan

El Capitan

The climbers slowly but surely making their way to the top

Eventually it was time to say goodbye to the stunning Yosemite rocks and head back to Sacramento to pick up Gareth from the airport. Upper Cherry here we come!

A parting view of Yosemite


Anonymous said...

Incredible trip reports, horrible trucker hat.

Anonymous said...
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