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Hiking Stats as of 11/21/2018
Total Trips:
Total Distance:
Total Elevation Gain:
 325
 3,891.68 miles
 1,060,050 feet
After hiking Clouds Rest from Yosemite Valley the weekend before, I was reminded of the majesty of Yosemite and was anxious to come back for more. I've backed off from going after new peaks on the peak lists of late, having done several repeat ascents of late. Today's hike would not be a repeat, but instead were first time ascents of peaks that are not on any of the peak lists that I've been working on. That doesn't necessarily make them any less worthwhile, as today's hike would take me to the top of the highest waterfall in North America and ultimately to the summit of the largest granite monolith in the world. Who needs peak lists when those are your destinations?

I left my house at 5:30, skipping the morning walk with the dogs in order to ensure I would have enough time to complete all my objectives on the day. I planned on hiking out of Yosemite Valley again, but this time heading north, up to the top of Yosemite Falls, and then heading west over to Eagle Peak and finally El Capitan before retracing my track back down. I arrived at the Camp 4 parking area a little before 8 AM, and was at the trailhead a few minutes later. The Yosemite Falls Trail is not all that different than the other trails out of Yosemite Valley, with granite steps leading up and showing immaculate maintenance standards. The way up offered great views of Half Dome right from the start, but doesn't offer views of the actual Falls itself for the first 1,000 feet. But when the Falls did come into view, it was a sight to behold. The trail winds up along the west side of the Falls, offering great views, first up at the falls, throwing off the mist, then higher up as you get towards the top. The other awe-inspiring views were of the sheer granite wall to the west. It was fun thinking about how I would be up on top of that later in the day.

It took about 1:45 to cover the 2,500 feet to the top of the trail, although disappointingly it was still another quarter mile over to the actual Falls. So I made my way east towards the Falls, and away from El Capitan, arriving at the rather unimpressive top portion which feeds into the famous portion that drops down over 2,000 feet to the valley below. I climbed out onto some rocks overlooking the Falls for a better view of the Falls as they cascaded down, although I didn't feel that these were better views than what I had on the way up. Rather than double back and start on towards Eagle Peak and El Capitan, I crossed the footbridge over the river which feeds the Falls, and continued East towards Yosemite Point which had been signed as being an additional 3/4 of a mile further. The trip over to Yosemite Point was quite easy, and I wound up going off trail a bit to cut down on the unnecessary switchbacks that were on the granite slabs. Well, I actually cut them to take some shots of the local wildlife, although they were a little more timid than the ones I had med the previous weekend coming down from Clouds Rest. It didn't take long to arrive at Yosemite Point, which offered superb views towards Half Dome, the Clark Range and Yosemite Valley below. Directly below were the tiny looking structures of the Valley, and looking back to the west I could see the higher cliffs over towards Eagle Peak and El Capitan. While there was a bit of a crowd around the Falls, over here on Yosemite Point I had the place all to myself, a welcomed treat.

I stayed on the Point for a few minutes and 20 minutes later I was back at the trail junction west of the Falls, ready to start over new ground towards the next 2 peaks. Once I turned west past the trail junction I would only see 2 people until I returned to this point several hours later. The trail is heavily wooded over this section, with the melting snow resulting in some small streams along the trail. Despite the nice weather, the signs of winter were still present, with significant trail maintenance needed in some spots, and spotty snow present in others. After a couple of miles through the tall trees I arrived at the little spur trail junction for Eagle Peak, a mere 0.3 miles out of the way. I went up towards the rocky summit, arriving up top a few minutes past noon. I was surprised to see a couple of other hikers on top of the peak, and chatted with them for a few minutes about their hiking adventures. They were training for Whitney, and I shared with them my previous experiences on that mountain, along with the previous weeks visit to Clouds Rest. It was apparent that they were not leaving the summit anytime soon, so I hopped on top of the highest rock and got some shots of the incredible view - Half Dome and Clouds Rest, the Clark Range, Nevada Falls with Mt. Clark in the distance, Mt. Hoffman, and back toward Yosemite Falls. The hikers on the summit were kind enough to take a shot of me on the summit before I wished them luck on their Whitney training and took off for El Capitan.

After descending back to the main trail it was another couple of miles over to El Capitan, which is actually lower than Eagle Peak so I headed downhill for a while, through another section of trees before emerging on a largely rocky trail for the duration of the trip. After crossing over a minor stream tumbling its way down the Valley, the summit of El Capitan came into view. It was a bit of an odd experience, looking down at a summit, and around 1:15, as I approached the flat expanse and the large cairn on top I had a nice sense of accomplishment at standing on the top of this icon. The views were not as good as those from the top of Eagle Peak, since I was now further away from Half Dome. I wasn't satisfied with merely standing on the top, and despite the appearance from below, the top has a slope down for a several hundred feet before you actually encounter the edge of the cliff. I worked my way down hill, somewhat cautiously as I knew this thing would just abruptly cliff out at some point and I didn't really want to get all that close to that drop. I went about as far as I was comfortable with, which as it turns out probably wasn't all that close to the edge. At least I had some nice views down to the Valley which weren't available on the summit. I turned around and went back up to the top, and started back retracing my steps.

The trip back towards the Falls Trail was somewhat mundane, with the exception of the awesome views of Yosemite Valley below. Along the way the snow melt had swelled the water crossings, and I took to crossing via a giant log that was conveniently laid out over the stream. Near the trail junction I noticed a cross in the snow - being that this actually was Easter Sunday, I figured maybe the 2 hikers from earlier in the had made it. There was no way this was naturally occurring, right? Anyway, I continued on, and hooked back up with the Yosemite Falls trail which took me back down the steep cliffs and alongside the Falls. As I approached the bottom of the Valley I found a spectacular location for a final shot of Half Dome in the distance, looking every bit worthy of its world famous stature. I completed the trip around 5:15, giving me enough time to get myself back home with a few minutes of daylight to spare. 2 weeks in a row at Yosemite, but with Tioga Pass opening soon I'm not sure if I will want to brave the crowds and may not be back for a while.

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