Yosemite National Park, California
For the better part of two days, we had been listening to Yosemite Falls roaring into the Merced River. Upper Yosemite Falls is 1,430 feet high and alone, it’s one of the twenty highest waterfalls in the world. Paired with the middle cascades (series of 5 small plunges combined for 675ft) and lower falls (320ft), Yosemite Falls is 2,425 ft tall and the highest fall in North America. After some coffee and pretty bad breakfast burritos at Yosemite Lodge, we decided that as sore and tired as we were, we would hike to at least the overlook above the lower falls, right above Columbia Rock.
Staring down almost a thousand feet over a rickety railing at the middle cascade and Lower Yosemite Falls, the same sense of vertigo from Nevada Falls the day before crept back.
Looking up nearly 1,500ft to the Upper Falls, we were so caught up the moment that we all forgot about the weather coming in and how tired we were. We decided we just had to keep going – none of us felt like we wanted to, but we just knew we couldn’t go back either.
Looking over the edge of those falls was an incredible site; The sheer size of the 2,500′ drop to the valley floor along and the violent water raging over the edge a few feet away, all with a furiously strong updraft that felt like it could easily knock a small child off their feet. To say it was “impressive” would be an understatement. We didn’t spend much time there. The weather had taken a nasty turn though – Flat, heavy, and dark cloud coverage moved in and the wind began to howl with temperatures dipping to around 45°. We quickly finished off lunch, which naturally consisted of celebratory beers again and headed back.
The trail back dropped through gully down a series of switchbacks before opening up to a grand view of the base of the upper falls with the iconic Half Dome providing a backdrop. Whatever storm had been passing through the area had suddenly cleared and as we rounded the corner into view of the base of the upper falls, a vivid rainbow appeared bending around the base of the falls.
And once again that evening, I lined up along with 200 others for a final PBR along the Tunnel View. A solid end to an awesome 36 hours in Yosemite Valley.