Day 18: Yosemite
Yosemite National Park, California
I awoke around 8:30 or 9 this morning. Had a great sleep, nice and comfortable. We made plans last night to hike up to Glacier Point from the Valley. This would involve getting up here and hopefully catching one of the many busses from Glacier Point to the car in the Valley. This was not going to happen. The Hiker's Bus, as it's called, did not fit our schedule since there were no busses later than 1 P.M. Andy was determined to cook breakfast one morning and today he was going to do it. We each had three fried eggs, not in sandwiches though, we were out of bread.
We drove down to the valley and parked at the stables again. Walked a mile to the Happy Isles Nature Center and the trailhead. We started on the John Muir Trail which parallels the Merced River. Then we took the Mist Trail which makes its way to the Vernal Falls. These trails are primarily in the up direction and I think I was finding the altitude change taxing. Also, the pace in which we were going on these trails probably didn't help too much either. The trail approaching the Vernal Falls is vertical - steps the entire way. After many rests, I finally made it to the top. The falls were beautiful with the yellow-green grass, the dark granite, and the rainbow in the mist of the falls. Above these falls is a large lake called Emerald Pool where people were swimming. On one side of the lake is forest all the way up to its banks. On the other side is granite. The entire bank of the lake is one sloping bank of rock-sliprock.
We made our way over to the granite bank which involved going above the lake and crossing through the rushing waters that feed the lake. Above the lake is where the stream is thin and the rock it travels on is relatively level. Because it is virtually impossible to walk on the wet rock without slipping, the only place to cross is where the rock is level, and even here you must be very careful not to slip and let the water carry you away. While we were crossing, one girl thought she could walk out into the flowing water, she slipped and took a little trip into the pool below. It's nature's version of the waterslide.
We crossed successfully and got a spot on the huge stone bank. The water was extremely cold but we were both determined to swim since a shower was not in our immediate future. Andy was brave and dove right in, I chose the gradual approach but this back-fired. This huge sliprock bank extends into the lake and after my legs were submerged, I lost my footing and fell in the water, Nestea plunge style. This caught everyone's attention, it also caught mine, in a big way. The temperature of this water took a few minutes to get used to, it was cold, the kind of cold that's painful for about five minutes until your body gets used to it. The kind of cold that gives people heart attacks. Got out in about five minutes and stretched out on the rock bank for a while.
I decided to part ways with Andy. I let him continue the hike and decided I would meet him at the top - it was no longer fun for me. So he left going in the up direction and I in the down direction. Talked to some Mexican folks on the way down. Stopped in the Nature Center and browsed for a bit. It was nice to be alone for a while and I'm sure Andy was thinking the same. Ended up wandering around the valley floor lost, trying to find the car, and walked into the housekeeping camp. I eventually did find the car and went back to our camp to change my clothes and the four day old underwear I was wearing. After this, I made my way out to Glacier Point where Andy would be coming 'round the mountain.
I had brought a bite to eat and a book to read but I ended up talking with a guy from New Zealand the entire time. He had just climbed the 8,842-foot Half Dome, which was standing in front of us like a monument. We were sitting at a picnic table talking about each of our travels. He was into backcountry sight-seeing and had no car in the states. He took busses as close to the parks as he could and walked the rest of the way. He had walked the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, and seen other parks in California and the southwest.
Andy got back within an hour and we went back to our camp. Andy went off to get some food and got back around 8 P.M. We had hot dogs tonight along with a Lipton noodle casserole and green beans. By the time we finished it was about 9:30 and we went to bed straight away. It was cold out, hope I'm warm enough tonight.