Monday, September 30, 2013

Trail Less Traveled

Rex and I have been remiss in keeping up this blog, obviously. We soon will be moving into a new phase of our on-the-road adventure, so I’m now motivated to bring this online report up-to-date. Since we left Santa Rosa, California, on September 1, we have traveled only 750 miles to Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon National Parks, then south to the Los Angeles.

On the other hand, we have covered quite a bit of ground. While in Yosemite Valley September 1 through 7, we completed several hikes, including the magnificent Panorama and Sentinel DomeTrails, but our personal favorite was the Yosemite Falls Trail.

We were silly enough to take on this strenuous feat when the falls were bone dry. Fed by spring snow melt, North America’s tallest waterfall goes dry every summer, usually in August. But with only 30 percent of normal snowfall last winter, the falls stopped running in June this year. Nevertheless, we decided to try this trail, partly because we liked the challenge (only 8.5 miles round trip but a 3,400' climb) and partly because we wanted a southern view of the valley.

Thankfully, we were rewarded for our folly: We had the trail almost to ourselves, the views were stunning, and we stumbled into some excellent birding along the way. I’m certain people flock to this trail when the water is flowing, but in my mind, it’s worth the walk any time of year, and maybe even more so in late summer, thanks to the solitude.
Early start, on our way up

Not just Rex, but Colene, too, had many hands-on-hips moments as we inched our way to the top.  The engineering and construction on this trail were phenomenal. 

Break time

This is all that remains of Yosemite Creek on September 5. In the spring, it gushes with snow melt and falls 5,404 feet to the valley floor.  Even so, there was enough water to attract birds. Not far from here, we lingered for more than an hour while watching Cassin's finches, white-headed woodpeckers, and black-throated grey warblers-- just few of the species we spotted. 

At the top: Half Dome from Yosemite Point

On our way down

Rock climbing is a big deal in Yosemite.  I had no idea that this sub-culture even existed, but that's clearly what it is. Here, we encountered two climbers laying a new trail. 

The view from Columbia Rock, only a few miles up the trail.  If one can't make it to Yosemite Point, hoofing it as far as Columbia Rock is a good alternative. 

The end.

Our route