So, San Francisco Day 3, happened quite a way out of San Francisco in Yosemite Valley. We drove out to the North, across some other large bridges which are not nearly as famous as the Golden Gate. We drove the three or four hours out to Yosemite National Park – getting there sometime after they had more or less closed down for the day. We had reserved a camp site, so we just proceeded there to setup camp for the night.
In the morning, after a bit of a run-around (due to some confusing naming and bad directions) finding the visitor center. We were ambitious and decided that we’d do the Upper Yosemite Falls trail, which is a 7.2 mile hike up to the very top of the ridge surrounding the valley. After a few stops for pictures near the Curry Village (the field / mountains panoramas) we made our way to a parking lot close to the Upper Yosemite Falls trailhead and started hiking. The one bad things about mountains being nice places to hike is that you’re always hiking up…
The trail has dozens of switchbacks to start and then straightens out a bit approaching Columbia Rock, which the overlook with a pipe rail as seen in the pictures. This is about a mile up the trail. We went maybe another mile after that – AKA we got to a good view of Lower Yosemite Falls, which was not running, and decided that it probably wasn’t worth the second major set of switchbacks to get to top of Upper Yosemite Falls, which being on the same river, we concluded also wasn’t running.
The second stop was Bridalveil falls, which was a very easy hike on a paved trail up to the viewing area. From there, it was scrambling over rocks to get up to the actual base of the falls, and based on the signs and people, was allowed by not necessarily encouraged. We climbed up about half way to the base of the falls without breaking any legs.
Third stop of the day was Glacier Point. Despite looking close on the map, it was a pretty long drive around and up to get there followed by a short walk out to the view point. Must have been the place to be for sunset, because lots of people were gathered. My favorite picture of the day came from the drive back into the valley when we stopped for about 20 minutes to take pictures of the sunset.
We got back to the valley, snuck in to use Curry Village showers (snuck is a strong term since they were completely unguarded) and went to their pizza place / cafeteria for pizza and beer for dinner. This seems like a fine place to mention that Yosemite is a pretty well built-up park. I suspect it attracts lots of mountain climber types (the Half Dome trail is a 14 hour hike and climbing gear is suggested) who also want to be able to relax when not out climbing. In addition to the pizza-beer-cafeteria-cafe building, there was also a lodge with lots of seating, a fire place and accessible power and WiFi for offloading and uploading pictures and such. Camp site were $20, and had anyone been around to collect it, the shower use would have been $5/ea. The Curry Village ‘camp sites’ were $40, but were actually permanently framed tents with cots and included shower use, so if returning that might be better choice.
Map photo stolen from here: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/maps.htm