I dreamed of visiting Yosemite National Park for as long as I can remember. There was a period in my younger years when I spent time rock climbing and Yosemite was the premier Big Wall climbing area in the world.
I arrived in Yosemite after a energy sapping series of climbs to finally make it into the park from San Francisco. I stayed a couple of nights in the famed ‘Climbers Camp’, a cheap and crowded $5 per night campsite filled with climbers from all round the world. The campsite was visited by Bears, Racoons, Coyotes, Squirrels and Chipmunks during my brief stay there. My general appearance must have given many to think I was a climber as a result I met lots of climbers inquiring about what climbs I planned to do. I climbed a bit many years ago, including several months living on a beach in Thailand climbing everyday. There was a time that I would have wanted to climb El Capitan but I think those days are gone. The Climbers I met journeyed to Yosemite from all round the world to take on the Big Wall climbs. Several climbers I met spoke of their routes up the walls and of days spent sleeping suspended several hundred meters above the valley floor in their small platform bivvy tents. At night their headlamps were clearly visible as small specks of light on the 1000m plus high cliffs. One climber camped next to me mentioned how he wanted to free climb El Capitan, without ropes in the next couple of days. Crazy.
I really wanted to do the hike to the top of Half Dome. The dominant 2693m granite rock that oversees the valley. I was somewhat disappointed to learn that only a couple of weeks earlier the cables to the top were taken down for the season. As a result I had plan B, a somewhat long day hike that would take in the best of the area and a bike ride round the many bike trails in the park.
I started fairly early with a slow climb up the Mist Trail and John Muir Trail to Clark Point before taking the Panorama Trail across to Glacier point then up to Sentinal Dome and returning to the valley via the Four Mile Trail. The combination of all these hiking trails, gained nearly 1300 meters in elevation and provided world class views of Half Dome, Nevada Falls, Illiloutte Falls and the Yosemite Valley. At this time of the year the Autumn / Fall colours of the trees bring out stunning reds and yellows in the trees but the downside was the main waterfalls, Bridleveil Falls and Yosemite Falls were both dry due to California being in drought for the last 3 years. At Glacier Point I lingered and found a quiet spot to eat and take in the view, but there was an even better view when I hiked up to 2476m to the summit of Sentinal Dome. I was rewarded with a panoramic 360 degree view of the high Sierras. Possibly the best mountain view I have seen. The 1000m plus cliff of El Capitan on one side and the sheer face of Half Dome on the other. Then there was the dry cliff face that would have been Yosemite Falls the highest waterfall in North America and the Wilderness areas of the park that contains some very desirable hiking trails such as the John Muir Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, both of which are on my to do list! Despite the cooling light breeze of the afternoon I lingered as long as I dared before completing my day hike by returning to Glacier Point and descending on the Four Mile Trail which is a rather steep series of switchbacks which descends back to the Yosemite Valley. Despite the steep descent and somewhat tired legs I was rewarded with the ever present vistas of El Capitan. I think this combination of a series of hiking trails was possibly the best 1 day hike in Yosemite, although I would have liked to have climbed Half Dome to make the comparison. But that is a reason to return.
San Francisco to Manteca = 121km
Manteca to Stanislaus Park = 130km
Stanislaus Park to Yosemite Valley = 60km
Day Hike. Mist Trail , JMT, Panorama Trail, Glacier Point, Sentinal Dome, Four Mile Trail = 27km and about 1300m of elevation gain.