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Directly after flying home from Portland visiting with Josh and briefly with J-man, met up with the J-man at Oakland Airport for a 5 day camping/backpacking/hiking trip in Yosemite. Due to delays from my missing the 238 connector in Hayward among other things, the first day, just did some camp site camping and basic sad driving sight-seeing stuff. Here's our first view pull off on the road leading down to the Valley. Here I am (bit of a gut from too much Pabst-drinking in Portland) on the Swinging Bridge which was this sad place with a lot of fool jumping into the river, but it had a good view from afar of the impressive Yosemite Falls which normally probably is tough to see from that far, but this year was gushing. Had a real nice rack of boneless beef ribs at night thanks in part to J-man's expert meat tending. Even though we didn't really deserve it, though we knew it would be future reserve for the arduous trekking to come in the next days. I never get tired of looking at nice raw meat on the grill. I can't imagine vegetarians getting the same joy from looking at photos of carrots, but maybe they do.

We got a fairly quick start the next morning and packed up the car after another giant meal of a pack of bacon split between us and 3 eggs each with some grapefruit juice. Then, headed on a long windy drive up to Glacier Point. Unfortunately, the light was not great and there was some haze in the air from a controlled burn possibly. But it still was outstanding view, especially given the large water flow in the falls seen far away and the 12,000+ peaks in the distance with snow still packed deep. Good high view of Half-Dome.

The we went up the Mist Trail to see Vernal and Nevada falls. With the water pouring down, we really got a good soak hiking along the rocks next to the spray. After Vernal Falls, which had a nice sink and waterfountain, you cross a little bridge and continue up on to trail to Nevada Falls. At this point, the trail becomes a little more enjoyable as you have shed the soft-serv eating, flip-flop wearing, RV camping DVD watching fools that only go to the first one and turn back. Here I am still trying to look cool as you see Nevada Falls behind me, but this was the best shot showing the very top of the falls. Note how my pride of being a former Kaiser employee shines as I proudly pose in the shirt. After a fairly arduous climb, we reach the top and the rushing water towards the edge looked so refreshing, it was tough not to dive in. But luckily the mind quickly snaps to and recalls there is a 400 foot drop close by. The park really did a good job and put up a metal fence right on the edge of the precipice. It really was scary and exhilarating to be that close to so much power [quicktime movie] of melting snow and gravity. The thought of the volume of water constantly going over the edge was amazing. [quicktime movie] Here's the Jman clinging for his life on the edge. For the return trip, there was a bridge to cross and looking backwards, the relatively calm waters belie the fury that shortly follows. Which, I'm sure was what got this unfortunate guy.

After this hike, we went to the ranger's station and figured out where our hike would be and we headed for the Wawona section. We didn't have far to go this first day, but it was all up and it was painful. I sweated the most I ever have. Complete saturation of my shorts from stomach sweat. Fortunately for viewers of this site, I don't have a photo of this. But before too much pain began, got a nice look from the trail near the start after emerging from the tree cover. I like this V formation, which I see a lot in my hiking at different places.

Here I am by a stream with snow on the side on a day hike we did the 3rd day trying to get to some lake. The day before, we were stymied by the snow that obscured the trail on our way to another lake we had planned on camping at. I have no pictures from that day because it was so painful hiking through snow with our big packs that I wasn't in the mood. Here's a tiny frog seen along the trail. Neat little snow bridge along the trail. This is a good example of the nastiness that we had to trample through due to the huge snowpack. It became very annoying after a while and also attracted mosquitos. You can also see some small versions of this plant that was all over the place that had very soft leaves which would be excellent to use in case you ever forget toilet paper on your backpacking trip. Nice little stream crossing, on an easy log this time.

At the camp that night, we had a deer come by repeatedly and for some reason, it has some green eyes in the photo I took. Final day, heading back, had to cross this log which I was not very good. J-man was nice enough to take my pack across for me as I am certain I would have gone down. I could have waded through the water like the first time, but that would have made the final hike uncomfortable so I'm glad I didn't. With a downhill on the way back, we were able to appreciate the beauty and go off the trail a bit to check out this awesome cascade just prior to the main falls. Here's another closer shot . From our perch by the cascades looking out to the west as the water makes it's plunge. Here I am trying to get as close to the edge as possible. Near the bottom, the trail became for forested and here's a nice little rogue falls to the side of the trail with gleaming algae. The water we sat by above gets one final narrow turbulent ride before the trail finishes.

Upon getting back to the car, we still had 1/2 a day and one more valley attraction to check out: Yosemite Falls. Prior, we polished off a large pepperoni pizza at a painfully sad restaurant in the Valley. The pizza was not great, but I was so starved I had to have it. We filled up with water and then went to the sad viewing point of the lower falls with people eating ice cream and playing with their Yosemite yo-yos they just purchased in the gift shop nearby. We knew the trip could not end like this so we continued along the pavement to get to the trail going to the top of the falls. Looking up, I really wasn't in the mood to make this climb, but I'm glad I did. It was one of the most painful day hikes I've ever done. It really wasn't much distance, but it was relentlessly steep and the trail was rocky. Here's a good shot of the base of the upper falls with a nice mist, where a lot of the wussy people turn around. Finally at the top, you descend these stone stairs to the lookout point over the falls. Here's J-man going down. Here's a little movie [quicktime] of the final moments of the water before it's big drop. Heading back down, on the trail a look out from the shadows. A look up at the wall the trail was against, unfortunately it's blurry, but still gives a good idea of the heights we ascended. From the trail, a perfect vista of the valley and mountains surrounding it, one of my favorite nature shots of all-time. A shot half in shadow, half in light, with the top of the falls seen in the shadow portion.

That's all for pictures. Upon finishing, I was out of water and needed some desperately. Then we drove back, stopping at a BK along the way and having a great greasy chicken sandwich meal of some sort. My contact lens dried up and just fell out while I was driving, but I had a spare luckily. Got bad to the city and relaxed Sunday before heading back to the sadness of office-chair slouching in my cube. I had lowed my body fat by about 4 percentage points according to my scale that measure such things. It's all back, of course, but this statistic indicated that the Yo portion of the trip kicked my ass and made up for the excessive PBR drinking during the Portland portion.


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