Yosemite: Part 2 – El Capitan Is The Man!

Day Two in Yosemite

First! Check out Yosemite part 1!!

This morning we wake up early. Our plan? Half Dome!

We’ve been looking at this hike for a while… contemplating it, but still really unsure how we’ll manage to climb the side of the dome while the ropes are down. Don’t know what we’re talking about? Here you go…

So as we sit here in the van, at 5:00AM.
We talk about it…
We google it… yes there is 4G in the park. πŸ“±

Our decision? ….not to do Half Dome.

While it is doable to climb the dome with the ropes down, it’s only recommend by experienced hikers and with climbing gear… since we have neither experience nor gear, this is a no-go for us.

But now what!?!?

It’s time to take a look at the hike guide that the gate ranger gave us when we entered the park!

We want something challenging; we did wake up at 4:30AM after all.

Gazing at the list of hikes, our eyes immediately affix to the “Strenuous” category. After little debate we choose…. Yosemite Upper Fall!

Upper Yosemite Fall


We immediately head for the trailhead!
It’s now 6:45AM and we start to climb.

As we climb we constantly catch glimpses of Half Dome.


The hike begins with a grueling set of switchbacks


But we’re so caught up in the beauty that it doesn’t matter much to us.



We continue to climb the switch backs, our shadows keeping close behind…. someone’s shadow is a puppeteer🐰 πŸ˜†


As the trail starts to level out, the first set of switchbacks is over.
We round the bend and catch our first glimpse of the Upper Yosemite Fall.


The temperature suddenly drops as we feel the mist hitting our bodies… even from this distance.


The trail takes us near the base of the waterfall.


and before long we’ve started to climb again.

Yep! More switchbacks!!
By this time we’re starting to feel it a bit more. πŸ˜–

But at least there’s the distraction of being in one of the most beautiful places on the planet! πŸ™‚

That helps ease the pain just a little…


As we’re busy climbing switchbacks, here are a few neat facts about Yosemite Falls:
– Yosemite Falls is the 5th tallest in the world!
– The term falls is best used for waterfalls with multiple drops: Yosemite Falls has three drops.
– The Upper Fall (this is what we’re climbing!) plunges 1,430 feet and on it’s own is among the twenty tallest waterfalls in the world!

… meanwhile, the switchbacks continue.


With plenty of hydration…


…and occasional rest!


After all our efforts, 3.6 miles and 2,700 ft of leg-melting switchbacks, the landscape flattens.


..the edge is within sight!!!

The Top of The Falls


Forget the switchbacks… It was worth it πŸ™‚


We reach the top at 9:30AM, after only 3 hours since hitting the trail, and we’re the only ones here.


With our goal of reaching the top complete, it’s time for some well deserved lunch!! … technically breakfast πŸ˜‹


We take our time eating, and enjoy the views.


We even find beautiful Pinecone Lake!


It’s actually just a small puddle with a pinecone in it.
… pretty cool nonetheless.


Well…  being only 10:30AM and a lot of daylight left, let’s see if we can find something more to do.

Since we’re not hiking Half Dome, it’d be nice to find something of equal grandeur. So what (or who?) other than El Capitan!?

It’s only 4.7 miles from our currently location…

El Capitan, here we come!

So here we go! El Capitan is one of the most photographed and climbed rocks in the world.

Here’s a shot of it from the road down below:


The peak towers almost 2,900 feet above the valley floor.
The surface area of its granite face is roughly half a square mile in size! The age of the rock is estimated to be about 100 million years (give or take a few πŸ˜‹)!

The trail from Upper Yosemite Falls to El Capitan takes us behind the upper valley rim. Here we encounter scattered snow and icy trails.


Good thing we’re prepared hikers!!


These these things are great for gripping in the slippery conditions. If there is any chance of icy conditions, bring a pair! Who knows, they may have saved our lives!


As the hike continues, we cross creeks


enjoy vistas

[Group 3]-IMG_2216_IMG_2220-5 images

and be sure to stack a stone on top of each cairn we find.


Finally! 3 1/2 hours after leaving the falls we reach El Capitan!

The Top of The Captain!


Two others are all that are here to share the solitude of this place.


We find a spot of our own.


With little time to waste, and ignoring the screams of our legs, we press on down the steep decline along the nose to look off the edge.


We make it!




Here’s another view from the bottom. We’re at the edge to the far right!


The walk down from the peak doesn’t look to bad from this angle πŸ˜‰

So, since we didn’t fall off…
…time to hike back!

The Return

Our bodies beg us not to… but even leaving now, it’ll likely be dark before we’re done.


At 2:00 PM we begin our return.
It’s 4:30 when we reach the top of the falls.

and the descent is far from easy.
If a muscle wasn’t aching before… it’s aching now.
Each step is a reminder of how far we’ve come…

Fortunately the beauty doesn’t end.



Darkness falls 2 miles from the trailhead and we use our flashlights to navigate the remaining darkness….

At 6:45PM we reach the moment we’ve been longing for, rest and sleep.

12 hours, 14 miles, 6000+ ft elevation gain & decent.

El Capitan (the one on the left)… yeah, we did that!


Hike Summary

For hike details, check it out!!

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