Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Day in Yosemite National Park

In planning for Yosemite I had looked at all of the day hikes available. Most of the ones that we were interested in unfortunately required a large change in elevation. The boys were keen on hiking to the top of Half Dome but that is a grueling 16 mile round trip with a 4600 foot elevation change, not something I thought I would be able to do. Even the 2,200 foot climb to the top of Yosemite Falls was crossed off the list. Taking advantage of having Pap-Pap with us we decided on hiking the 8.5 miles from Glacier Point to the valley floor via the Panorama Trail and the Mist Trail. This hike would take us by three waterfalls and had a moderate 700 foot rise in the middle. So early in the morning we set off.

Pap-Pap dropped us off at the trailhead to the Panorama Trail and drove down to the valley to meet us later. The views from nearly every point along the Panorama Trail, are to die for. The hardest part of hiking the trail was pulling myself away from taking in the views. After leaving Glacier Point, we hiked into the Illilouette Canyon and the over the Illilouette Creek and the nearby waterfall. Because of good snowfall over the winter the falls were flush with
water. We paused on the bridge over the creek for a snack.

The trail continues on the other side of the creek uphill along the Panorama Cliff. It was a bit slow and Ned started to complain about his feet hurting but the effort was worth it for the view from the high point on the trail. Every part of the Panorama Trail offers a different spectacular view of Yosemite. Soon we started catching glimpses of Nevada Fall and then we were there. We had lunch on the rocks near the fall. After lunch we started down the Mist Trail to the valley.

This trail is mostly a series of granite steps set along the course of the Merced River as it drops into the valley. The going was hard and as we got closer to the valley floor there were more people and the temperature went up. When we reached the bottom I was a bit dehydrated and very calf and shin sore from the stairs but we made it and happily met up with Pap-Pap.

We then went to Housekeeping Camp to take showers and do some laundry. While waiting for our laundry we went and had a pizza dinner at nearby Curry Village. On our way out of the valley we stopped at the visitor center and the boys received their junior ranger badges. Before going back to camp we made a last visit to Glacier Point to watch the sun set and the moon rise.

Half Dome, Liberty Cap, Nevada Fall and Vernal Fall from the Panorama Trail

Ned and Joe Cross Illilouette Creek

The Yosemite Valley from the Panorama Cliffs

A Glimpse of Nevada Fall

The 600 ft Drop of Nevada Fall

A Relief Map of the Yosemite Valley at the Visitor Center

El Capitain Looms Over the Valley Floor

Sunset From Tunnel View

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