Memories of hiking Yosemite Falls

Mountain Secrets

editorial@sierrastar.comMay 13, 2014 

Spring is once again upon us and with this season's light snowfall, now is the time for another hike to the top of Yosemite Falls. Our spring season has been dryer than normal which means that during April, this historic trail should be without snow. This hike was done one day before the large snowfall on April 25.

It was 8:30 a.m. and weather conditions were excellent to begin this elevation gain of more than 2,600 feet.

Today is my sixth hike to the top of this historic falls, with a total hiking distance of 8.4 miles. The hiking time should be about three to six hours. The reason for the variation in time depends on my physical condition, but descending can be half of my total hiking time.

Now the record time for this hike is 43 minutes and 04 seconds one way which was set by Hari Mix. Date of record setting time is unknown.

This is an excellent trail to follow, but I'll be prepared for many switch-backs and irregular stone steps. Between those steps are uneven cobble stones which can be slippery with sand during a dry season.

After passing what resembles a winter gate (lonesome pole) I glimpse my first introduction to a full view of Yosemite Falls. Yosemite Falls is the highest measured falls in North America and the fifth highest in the world. It has three separate drops, 1,430 feet, 675 feet and 320 feet. The highest falls is Angel Falls in Venezuela, followed by falls in Africa and Norway.

During the next quarter mile, my attention is focused on the wet slippery steps caused by the spray from the falls. Next, I'm faced with a series of switch-backs before entering the stands of Jeffery Pines. Looking up I can see the remaining switch-backs before entering the saddle with a three way trail junction.

Even a sign provides the choice of directions. One trail to the left leads to Eagle Point and El Captain. The second trail follows the rim to North Dome and can follow toward Tioga Pass Road. The third trail will cross the small seasonal stream to Yosemite Falls and Yosemite Point.

Just above the falls (right side) the trail introduces me to a series of steps that taper downward. Next it turns following a hand railing that descends to a natural shelf. Do be careful descending on these narrow steps. Here I experience the first unrestricted views of Yosemite Valley.

Now double back to the trail which leads down to a wooden bridge that crosses Yosemite Creek. The creek looks inviting but stay away from the water's edge. Moisture causes the beautiful rock surfaces to become slippery. During the spring and early summer the creek can become quite violent. This can be a safe place, just use common sense.

There is only one remaining area to visit and that is Yosemite Point. I cross the wooden bridge and follow the trail as it increases slightly in elevation for another quarter mile. Here I am rewarded with another unrestricted view of Half Dome, Glacier Point and the valley floor.

To my surprise located next to the end post that supports the railing is a surveyor's marker dated 1905 — Another important fact of Yosemite's history. The Ahwahneechee people (Native Americans) lived in Yosemite Valley for centuries. It was in 1833 that the first recorded discovery was made by other humans. Most likely the European trappers or mountain men stumbled upon the valley in their quest for animal hides.

This early spring hike to Yosemite Falls is a great conditioning hike to start the summer hiking season. You may not be satisfied with this one hiking experience, so come back; there are many trails to follow in this historic park.

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