We finally made our way to our first (in this adventure) National Park and I was PUMPED UP! It was Memorial Day weekend so it’s not the most ideal time to visit any major tourist attraction but we braved the storm anyway. We were certain we would’t find anywhere to stay but were fortunate enough to land a spot at a private campground.
We browsed a website, Yosemite Hikes, which highlights all of the possible hikes you can do in the park. As I mentioned in another post, when determining which hike we should do I consider the length, the scenery, difficulty of the hike and if we will see any snakes. Well, this particular hike is the second hardest hike Yosemite has to offer, Half Dome being the hardest, and so I knew it was the one for us.
We had a bit of a problem trying to find the trail head. Well, we found it right in the beginning but then had to drive past it find parking, which took a while. Once we parked, we got our bikes out and headed to find the trail head once again. After about an hour, we finally found it and locked our bikes to a tree at the bottom of the trail and headed out on foot.
The start of the hike was covered by trees so it was not too hot just yet but by the time we made it a third of the way we were both drenched in sweat. Every time we passed someone coming down the mountain they looked chipper and completely put together. We couldn’t figure it out. Why did we look and feel so disheveled?! We did learn that most people just hike down so they do not get the full experience which is why they didn’t look like they were on the verge of death.
Things started to get iffy about half way up and around our 25th switch back. There was a man in front of us who had some pretty serious gear so I figured he knew what he was doing. I decided that I would ask him how much further had to the top. He looked at us with concern, we were SWEATING at this point, he did not voice his concern but his facial expression said it all. He then let us know we were roughly half to the top. He had an emblem on his shirt that read PSAR (Preventative Search and Rescue) program. What is that you ask? Well, I wouldn’t have learned about the program had we not read the local Yosemite Dailey paper. It’s a program in which Yosemite is trying to prevent people from needing the SARs (Search and Rescue) team to come look for them. You see, nature is dangerous. Particularly when you lean over the edge of a very high mountain to take a selfie and fall over the edge. The people who risk their lives to come to save you, or recover your body, are part of the SARS team. The PSAR team is assembled of mainly interns and they are the folks you see around the park trying to prevent you from stepping over the guardrail to take that selfie or jumping into the rushing river to cool off.
As we neared the top of the mountain we had folks that were headed down the mountain encouraging us to continue on and letting us know we were almost there. Apparently we looked as rough as we felt. We finally reached an area that leveled out which made the last stretch of the hike doable.
When we arrived at the top of the mountain, Glacier Point, there was a SEA of people eating ice cream cones, giggling and pushing their suburban sized strollers. What the hell. Why do these people look so happy? And why aren’t they just as exasperated as we are? Oh, that is right, these jack wagons DROVE THEIR MINIVANS to the top of the mountain. The view from Glacier Point was no different than the views we witnessed hiking up and then enjoyed a bit more on the way back down. Something to note is that our clothes were soaking wet from sweat so when we reached the top we got a bit cold due to the drop in temperature. Fortunately, I had a dry long sleeve shirt to put on and the mister had a jacket.
When it was all said and down, we had hiked over 10 miles and gained roughly 3200 feet in elevation. Looking back, I would say it’s definitely the hardest hike we have ever done and one of the most beautiful. Did I mention the hike guide rates it as Very Strenuous? It was a great way to spend Mr. TCPs Birthday. However, I can’t say he agrees.
Stay tuned for a general Yosemite National Park post and maybe a new video!