waterfalls in Yosemite

Finally, I’m catching up to the backlog of pictures from the last few weeks. Last weekend I headed up to Yosemite to do some hiking and climbing with friends. The big snowpack from this winter and the wet spring we’ve had mean that all the usual waterfalls are going off like crazy and there are plenty of waterfalls all over the cliffs that aren’t there in the summer. I put in extra hours at work during the week which allowed me to get an early start on my drive up to Yosemite Friday. I figured if I was on the road by 3:00 I would miss the traffic.

Ha!

nice try. I didn’t miss the traffic, but the jams only lasted for the first half hour, and after that it was great. The drive to the valley itself takes around 6 hours from LA, but I was camping at the Wawona campground at the southern end of the park which cut almost an hour off that time, so as the sun was setting I reached my campground, right next to the swollen South Fork of the Merced river. In the gathering gloom I set up my tent and then tried to take a few night pictures. At this point i realized that in my haste to pack up and go I had left my tripod at home. Night photography is definitely a little more difficult without it, but with the use of the boulders in the area and my remote release I managed a few shots. The temperature was very chilly, which was a foreshadowing of what would happen for the rest of the weekend, but i snuggled down into my sleeping bag and was lulled to sleep by the thundering water.

I rose with the dawn Saturday, and had my camp all packed up and ready to go before anyone else int he campground was even up. I was meeting my friends at 11-11:30 in Yosemite Valley, and I wanted to get my photography in prior to that since I knew we would be busy doing other stuff after that and I wouldn’t have much time for pictures. A surprising number of people were already on the road at 6:00 am, but the views were gorgeous. It was sunny, but still chilly, and as I drove along at 6:00 feet the clouds were spread out like foam on below me. I made it a point to stop wherever there was a vaguely interesting view and work the angles for a little while Doing this all along the road it took me a couple of hours to finally reach the valley.

Yosemite is always spectacular, and Saturday was no exception. Continuing along the road into the valley I stopped wherever the urge took me and wandered around taking pictures. Bridalveil Falls was thundering down like crazy, but since it was still in the shade of the early morning, and there was so much mist close to the base, I didn’t get any good pictures there. I did have fun wandering through the soaking rainforest at its base though. Further into the valley Yosemite Falls was visible from everywhere. With the sun not yet on the face there either, plates of ice and rime still coated the cliffs around it. I stopped at a number of places along the Merced and took pictures of the river and the falls. Finally I made my way to the bridge near the visitor centre and looped back. I went and hiked up to the base of Lower Yosemite falls and got soaked once again. After all this it was time to meet up with my cohorts. We went straight to our campsite and set up our tents, then had a little food while we discussed what to do next. This is the conundrum in Yosemite, there is so much to do, how do you narrow it down? We decided to do the hike up to the top of Yosemite Falls. At 7 miles and 2500 feet of elevation gain, its not a quick jaunt, and the clouds had rolled in, making the temperature drop. We made sure we had enough layers of warm clothing along and headed up the trail. This is a fun hike and I certainly recommend it, but be prepared to be huffing and puffing immediately. We powered our way up to the overlook at Columbia rock, and then decided to keep heading up to the top. The higher we got, the closer the clouds came. As we were passing at our closest to the falls it started to snow. The rocks on the trail were already slick from the mist rising from the base of upper Yosemite falls, and the snow didn’t do anything to help the situation. Finally, about 7/8 of the way to the top, we decided to turn around.  The snow was coming down heavily, and we had done the nicest parts of the climb anyway. We headed back. On the way we stopped at the secret side path overlooking the middle Yosemite falls. Most people don’t notice this short trail, and we had it all to ourselves. It was wonderful. We took a short time to look out over the falls, although the view was shrouded in mist, then headed back to the main trail.

Eventually we made our way safely to the base of the cliff, shedding layers slowly as we went. Then it was back to the campsite to spend the next few hours trying to get the dap wood for our campfire to burn. After a certain amount of heavy breathing from everyone, the fire started to burn merrily which warmed our faces until it was time to sleep again.

Sunday was a carbon copy of Saturday, starting sunny and starting to snow when we were halfway up the cliff. We decided to do some climbing so we headed to one of the more accessible walls to do some easy leading. There was a nice 3 pitch climb so we headed up it, but at the top of the second pitch the rain started to roll in, although it was snow at that level, so we decided not to risk the last pitch and rapped back down, leaving a few slings and carabiners at the top as booty for the next set of climbers. At this point it was about time for me to hit the long road back to LA, so it was goodbyes all around and off I went. It was good I left when I did, since they closed the road I headed up just after I got on it. It was snowing at elevation and the road got very slick with people sliding all voer the place. After an hour of crawling along a 5 miles and hour I made it past the snow and ice, and with that the adventure was over.

Anyhow, here are the pictures from Saturday morning and the hike up Yosemite falls.

(please click through on the link below or any of the pictures to go to the full gallery at http://www.duffyknox.com)

Spring in Yosemite

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