How to fit 3.5 miles into 3,000 feet.

Trip Start Mar 18, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Upper Yosemite Falls

Flag of United States  , California
Thursday, March 25, 2010

I can't remember the last time I was this exhausted. Wallie is fast asleep. Finally. He was running around all over the place when we made it to the top. Probably because I finally took his leash off him while I set up camp, or maybe because of the three feet of snow he had to play in. I found one little patch of ground under a fir tree that was just big enough to put the tent. The hike to get here was no joke. I passed by several people who were going the opposite direction. Most of them made some sort of comment about Wallie and his boots. Many of them wished me luck for the rest of the climb. This was not something I wanted to hear. A common sight were Asian couples. Young Asian couples. All of them were afraid of Wallie which I thought was pretty funny. Most of them were dressed like they were going to the mall to do some shopping. Jeans, t-shirt, running shoes, maybe a water bottle. And they all seemed to be casually strolling along with little sign of difficulty. That part was not so funny. Here I am, too out of breath to offer more than a courteous, "hello." I quickly realized the difference between them and me was the 60 lbs of gear I had on my back to keep me warm, dry, and well-fed throughout my stay at the top. Even still, I wish I had been in better shape before attempting such an aggressive hike. 3.6 miles is all it was, but a 3000' gain in elevation made it seem like it would nee end. A few people I w=passed warned me about the large amounts of snow and ice and also the thunderstorm that appeared to be rolling in. Still, the only thing that worried me was getting to the top.

The trail offered up many spectacular views of the Yosemite Valley. There were many granite cliffs that I'm sure all have names, but the only ones I knew were half dome and Yosemite Falls. Oh, yes, and Bridal Veil Falls, although I'm not even so sure which one that is either. At about 5,000ft, the trail became partially covered in snow. Wallie enjoyed it, but it became even more difficult for me since I was trying to control his fun with the leash. Finally, we came to a sign that said "Upper Falls - .2" This was a glorious moment. At this point, the trail was completely covered in snow. It was packed down pretty well by the day hikers which meant my feet only occasionally sunk into a foot of snow. I was already pretty worn out and the snow didn't do me any favors. I found myself stopping every 20-30 steps just to take a breath. The whole time, Wallie was getting more and more frustrated because he realized we were about to the top and he was ready to play.

Once we found our campsite, it was crucial that we got everything in order right away because the sun was about to go down. I did take five minutes to like on the ground next to my pack. Wallie even agreed that this was a great plan and quickly joined me. 

Once our quick little rest was over, the first order of business was to find water. My initial instinct was to walk over to the falls. Bad plan. There was three feet of snow on either wide, barricading the rapidly flowing river. I think even if I were able to reach the water, it would have grabbed my collapsable bucket from me in the same instant. So instead, I decided to walk back to that glorious sign because I remembered having to cross a little ice bridge at about the same point. It began to snow as I collected about six quarts of water and slowly trudged back up the hill to camp.

With water on the stove and dinner in sight, I quickly set up the tent and we were good to go. This hike demanded we bring only the very essential items with us, but there was just enough room for Wallie's blanket so he went in and took a nap while I made dinner. This was especially impressive since he will never go anywhere if he can't see me.

Next step, filter the rest of the water. My back was killing me. I could hardly stand straight after carrying that load, and I was starting to get cold as the wind picked up a bit. So I placed the bucket, my Nalgene, and the filer right outside the door to the tent and slipped into my sleeping bag. Before the first drop of water hit the Nalgene, the bucket collapsed and released about 2 quarts of water between the tarp and my tent. I could feel puddle right beneath the place where I planned for my head to be. No time for pulling everything out of the tent and dumping the puddle off the tarp, so I grabbed knife and cut a hole in the center of the puddle. Most of the water quickly drained out. Disaster mostly averted.

Not a soul in sight, but I have Wallie and mother nature to keep me company. The rushing waterfall, a safe distance away, sounds like a strong wind, and the only things that can drown it out is the pitter patter of icy snow pelting the rain fly over my head.

It's time for bed. I'm surprised I stayed up long enough to write anything at all.

Tomorrow, Santa Barbara.

From Upper Yosemite Falls, 

Zach and Wallie
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