Upper Yosemite Falls Trail

Upper Yosemite Falls Trail

Given the desert conditions of SoCal, our national parks pale in comparison to the ones located further north in the state. One of the best and most well known national parks in California is Yosemite. Due to its popularity, visiting the park requires advanced planning to secure lodging, permits, and reservations. But that’s not always necessary if you visit the park during shoulder seasons when the crowds have dissipated. Probably the best times to visit Yosemite is during the months of May and October. During those months, reservations to enter the park are no longer needed, and if you’re lucky, you may not even need to pay to enter the park. Chances of securing an in-demand hiking permit for the Half Dome are also higher. Permits for Half Dome are doled out through the lottery system, which opens during the month of March for that year’s hiking season between Memorial Day and first week of October. Another way to secure a permit is through the “same day” lottery, and chances of winning a same day lottery are higher for a weekday at the end of the season.

We managed to secure a permit on our first try back in October 2015 through the same-day lottery.
The views at the top are unrivaled.
The 15-mile hike took us 11 hours to complete.

This year, we opted to tackle a shorter hike – the 7-mile Upper Yosemite Falls Trail. Two and a half hours up, 1.5 hours at the top, and 2 hours down.

The start of a 2,700ft elevation gain in 3.5 miles.
The slope of the first mile wasn’t too bad.
Views of the valley floor began to open up.
Switch backs are involved in order to cover a huge elevation gain in such a short distance. For a “switch-back-ophile”, this was welcome news.
Columbia Rock at mile one offers a great view of the iconic Half Dome.
Shortly past Columbia Rock hikers got a reprieve with a downhill section that leads to a view of the Yosemite fall.
One of the downsides of hiking in the fall in California is that all the previous winter snowmelt is gone. Leaving you with a trickle of a waterfall. So if it’s waterfalls that you want to see, come in May. Today’s final destination is at the notch where the top of the falls is.
Past the waterfall viewpoint begins the gnarly ascent.
This is when the endurance runner wife outshone the BJJ practitioner husband.
Finally made it past the steep ascent.
View at the top
Sign pointing left to the waterfall overlook.
Smaller pools leading to the waterfall.

Getting to the overlook required going past a tight squeeze around the corner, and down a precarious looking ledge.

One of the tallest waterfalls in the world looked so pitiful in October.
The upside to this is that we got a chance to wade upstream to the waterfall.
To soak those tired feet in fresh cold alpine water.
Looking towards the edge
After chilling out for an hour and a half at the top, it was time to return. Hiking poles were a godsend while working our way back down the steep and sometimes slippery rocky paths.

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