Hike to the Top of Yosemite Falls and Back in a Day

May 21st, 2012. Categories / Bay Area

On Friday afternoon, I scrambled from work to pick up J and get home to pack for a trip to Yosemite National Park. The traffic between downtown and our apartment was slow, and I made moves on the scooter I’m not proud of.

We packed swiftly—only the essentials like a generator, television, and a crêpe suzette maker. N arrived in his black beast, and we crossed back to pick up his friend JF.

Three and a half hours later, we found our campsite within the smoke of a controlled burn. N and JF slept in the back of his Jeep; J and I pitched our small tent nearby.

Black beast and the tent at Diamond O Campground.

The early morning trail.


I slept 5 hours, crunching my swollen lymph node against the mat. Before the others woke, I walked around the campground in search of a nearby river. I couldn’t find a path, and a resigned looking dead mole told me to give up.

Yosemite was close, and quickly the Jeep hugged the road on the edge of the valley. Our destination was the top Yosemite Falls, and it involved hiking.

Yosemite Falls is the highest measured waterfall in North America, 6th or 7th in the world. The top is 2,425 feet (739 m) above the valley floor and is accessible by a strenuous 3.5 mile (5.6 km) hike up.

We started the hike around 8:30AM. Before we even got out of the valley, I dropped my water bottle and lost half its contents. It was a pro mountaineering move, and the nearby climbers lowered their caribiners in honor.

Entering the valley.

Yosemite Falls from a distance.

Zigzag fence.

A view of the falls, now with water features.

Clear water reveals jack squat at the bottom.

The beaten path.

Official vehicle.

The start of the climb. Step by step.

Day by day.

A fresh start over.

A different hand to play.

Lupine and the valley floor.

The first view of the falls from midway up the hike.

Splash zone.


Vertigo wall towers above.

Beside the splash zone. N and JF are down there somewhere.


The green shortcut to the top, not visible from the valley floor.

Another vertiginous moment.

At the top, we ate lunch by the water and enjoyed the view. J and I’s weakness demotivated our companions enough to avoid the extra half mile push to Yosemite Point.

Summit grass.

When you touch yourself, trees grow from rocks.


Looking away from the falls.

Looking towards the falls.




JF defies death.

Bear damage?

Kate’s moss.

A view of the falls and Half Dome. Gorgeous.

Half Dome detail.

One last shot of Yosemite Falls before heading home.

More hikers were headed up when we descended, and they all looked hot and tired. Faces changed from sweaty but accomplished to sweaty and defeatist.

N promised that we’d pass couples of the brink of divorce due to the strain of the hike, and we did.

I was tired myself, though my legs had a far easier time going downhill for 3.5 miles than up.

We arrived in the valley around 3:30. My butt was in need of two kinds of sitting and my thirst needed quenching. Stat.

Relieved, we piled back into the black beast for the ride back into SF.

Golden Gate police horse.

Practice head.

Remodel explosion.

Our first ripe indoor strawberries.

Tomato blossoms at sunset. Note the trellis I made.

Spice container crop in the kitchen.

A pasta dish.

Flowers of all sorts.

Patriotic school.

Obsessive compulsive succulent gardener.

Time to rest my legs.

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