Despite the late night, I woke up at 6:30 on Day Three feeling good. At 6:50, I was posted up on the computer getting ready to apply for a Half Dome Permit at 7 pm. Since we were at Yosemite during a busy part of the year, the 50 open permits that the park releases every morning go really quick. Fortunately, I clicked fast enough to score two permits for Friday. Half Dome baby! With our Friday plans set, my dad and I decided to do some light hiking for our first day at Yosemite. However, before taking off, we made a necessary stop at Starbucks.
Since we stayed in Merced, we had a two hour drive to the park. Although some might complain, I found the drive and scenery rather enjoyable… big open fields of golden grass dotted with sharp green trees.
Yet, rather quickly, we started to trek into the mountains. At first, the mountains weren’t anything special, just Sawnee mountain-like mountains; however, we soon encountered some impressive peaks and stream filled valleys.
On our drive in, we took a detour over the river because a massive rock slide had swallowed the road on the other side. When we finally made it to Yosemite, a smile broke on across my face. I was actually at one of the great national parks in the United States and about to witness the epicness of nature.
After parking our car and marveling at the sheer size of the cliffs around us, we made our way to the village store to stock up on some necessary provisions (a very important part). With our snacks in hand and a plan to hike some of Four Mile Trail (actually closer to five miles ha), we ventured off to the trailhead over the not-so-swingy swinging bridge.
Four Mile Trail started innocently enough, with a nice casual incline and a series of short switchbacks. Initially, we planned on hiking half-way up Four Mile Trail and later driving up to Glacier Point (the top of the trail). Yet, we somehow forgot about the plan and made our way steadily to the top, all the while downplaying other hiker’s assertions that the top was a good 2-3 hours away. At some point, we officially decided to change the plan to: hike all the way up to Glacier Point and catch a bus back down. So, with this new plan, we tackled the second set of switchbacks.
“Tony, Tony, Tony” – ‘Great. What is this crazy lady doing?’. As we were making our way up the second set of switchbacks, a lady came running down shouting for Tony (“a big guy walking next to a blonde” that we passed about 15 minutes ago). She quickly explained that his wife had broken her ankle and that she was trying to track down Tony. So, my dad and I split off. He went up to help the lady move to shade, while I ran down the mountain hoping to somehow reach this guy we passed 15 minutes ago… Just as I was about to give up (it always works out that way, doesn’t it?), I rounded a corner and there he was, Tony, the man. And of course, he already knew what happened. The lady finally calmed down enough to call Tony, but after I had already left. So, with Tony tracked down and the lady calling down for help, my dad and I continued back up the mountain.
Eventually, we completed the 10 switchbacks (the map lied to us, there were way more than ten) and made our way to the top. After standing in awe at the sight before us, we finally decided to go catch the bus down. So, we sat down on the bench for the bus.. and waited and waited and waited. Finally, we realized that the note on the map that says “No bus access” really means that there is no bus access at the top…. With Half Dome tomorrow, we made an executive decision to try to save our energy and hitchike. Unfortunately, that was a no go; so, after hiking 5 and a half hours to the summit, we turned back around and went all the way back down. Thankfully, there was a store with snacks for us to refuel. The first part of the trip down was actually very enjoyable.. the temperature was in the low 70s, a cool breeze was blowing, and the sun was setting on Yosemite Falls. Yet, as the hours wore on and my quads kept getting worse, I grew a little tired of descending. After 9 hours of hiking, we finally made it down the mountain. At the trailhead, we were greeted by a bear (at first, I was like “cool”, but then I quickly backed off after I realized that it was an actual bear ha). To save what was left of our legs, we took a quick ice bath in the river.
Finally, we stumbled into our car for the two hour trek home. Half Dome tmrw? Heck yes.