UPPER YOSEMITE FALLS AND MIRROR LAKE AT YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK – FEBRUARY 13, 2016

 

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Having been in California for so long, we decided it’s about time we paid Yosemite a visit. Since the weather has been on our side lately, we took a short trip leaving early Saturday morning and returning Sunday. Interesting part of the drive was going through Fresno / Merced area 6-7am in the morning when it was covered in heavy fog. We could barely see the car ahead of us by a few meters. At one point we need to pull to the side to take a piss but it’s so foggy and there were no turnouts. When we actually found one, the location was pretty eerie. We can’t see anything due to the fog but all we hear were heavy machinery and in a timely interval, a cow going oh noo mooooo. It turned out we were taking a piss next to a slaughterhouse (I’m 100% convinced).

When we got back to the car and continued driving, there was a sharp turn ahead that we could see on the GPS, so we slowed down considerably . Unfortunately for the car ahead of us, they must have not seen the sharp turn coming because when we drove by that section, there was a flipped SUV and two guys just chilling there, probably waiting for AAA.

After that, the rest of the drive was pretty boring before we finally arrived at the park. The campsite we decided upon was Camp 4 at the bottom of the Yosemite Falls. Not only was it crowded, there was heavy use of pot here so I could smell it everywhere I go. We decided to pitch a tent to claim our spot before hiking to make sure we can secure a site.

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Vince working hard to prepare firewood for tonight while Cindy chilling.

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After breakfast, and some coffee from the coffee beans that Vince roasted at home, we began the ascend to Upper Yosemite Falls.

Given the popularity of the trail, it was crowded as hell. It’s about 7 mile round trip so I thought it’s just going to be like Mission Peak. I was very wrong when we reached the part of the trail covered in snow and ice. It didn’t take long before the fall came into sight though. The view was pretty majestic and the way the water breaks at the bottom of the fall was cool since it looked silky, maybe from the snow and ice.

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In hindsight, I wouldn’t mind stopping here or spend my time getting closer to the fall. But instead we continued trekking to the top. Funny part is we ran into someone I knew, Jeffy, whom I haven’t seen since college. Out here in the middle of nowhere. Pretty cool.

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On the way up, it became apparent that coming back down is going to be a bitch as we see people sliding down the trail. The snow became less fluffy and more icy. A crampon or microspike would have been perfect, but instead we were just walking uphill hoping for the best.

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The snow at the top was fresh so it’s pretty powdery at the top. We got to the river that feeds into the fall and collected water here. Can’t get any fresher than this. Water tasted so damn good. It was also cold as hell as I miscalculated thinking it’d be warm (the entire way up was pretty hot) so I didn’t layer up as much. My fingers were going numb and I didn’t really feel like taking pictures. If I was warmer, I’d probably venture closer to the fall from here. After a snack break and getting enough water, it was time to head back down, the worst part.

I lost count of how many times I slipped on my ass walking down the icy slope. What kept me alive was watching Vince continuously slip in front of me as a reminder to be more careful. The night kicked in pretty quickly and we were surrounded by darkness before we got back to camp. Apparently, all the millipedes come out at night as the trail was infested with them. Good thing Cindy didn’t notice or she would have had an even more difficult time going down hill.

After a long grind, we finally arrived back at the camp site. It was filled with smell of smoke as everyone had built their campfires. Unfortunately, we had to share a fire pit with someone else camping near us and they failed at keeping the fire alive. I was too tired to care about anything at this point. I just ate dinner and played with night vision goggle that Vince brought which was pretty neat. We all went to bed pretty early and I actually had one of the best night sleep I’ve had while camping, probably because I was tired as hell and it was pretty warm.

The next morning was an easy hike to Mirror Lake after breakfast. The flat trail and easy hike were welcomed after previous day’s hike. On the way to the lake, we were walking parallel to the Merced River which offered good opportunities to play with slow shutter.

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DSC00530The water was freezing, otherwise we would have tried to get a better angle, maybe next time. Shortly after, we arrived at Mirror Lake. Some part of the lake was frozen so it was pretty cool standing on it. We spent some time here taking pictures and enjoyed this last stop before driving home.

DSC00561After absorbing enough of the scenery, it was time to head back. The parking lot where we had parked was in chaos as everyone parked as if they run the lot. It also took a while to leave the park due to heavy traffic, felt like I was driving in the city. We eventually escaped the crowd and made the journey back home. I agree that Yosemite is definitely beautiful and everyone should need to go at least once. If I come back, I would probably go to areas less traveled and backpack away from the crowd.

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