What? You think you've seen this picture before? Same friends, same spot? Well maybe you have but, but I assure you this trip was different from those we have done in the past.
This time we let Corey have an extra 30 minutes of beauty rest. Starbucks was already open when we got there. Not a single one of us ordered the oatmeal, and none of us were sure where we'd be hiking to!
But Kirsten had her fanny pack and Shelley had her "sticks", and we were ready to take on the trails of Yosemite once again.
The weather channel said our forecast for the day was clear sunny skies with a high of 86* in the valley. A ranger who had set up shop along the trail reminded us that there was a $150 fee for hiking half dome with out a permit and warned us that there was a 40% chance of thunderstorms. We looked up at the clear skies and continued along the path.
Vernal Falls and the mist trail were gorgeous as always, and the stairs seemed never ending, even at the beginning of the day.
Of course we encountered a crazy foreigner who agreed to take our picture, and of course he had a hard time focusing the camera on us. Four shots later, with all of us cracking up at Reed's commentary and our photogs cluelessness, we decided this was as good as it was gonna get!
Of course we encountered another LDS group of hikers who Reed had ties to and chatted them up on the trail for a bit.
But then, we broke from our routine and headed over to Nevada Falls.
We took in the scenery and ate Shelley's yummy cookies before anyone had a chance to sit on them. We kinda wanted to think we could get away with eating cookies all day since we would be doing so much hiking, but we were reminded that line of thinking is was what makes a lot of runners get fat, maybe even back fat, or maybe just be considered big boned. La la la, whatever, we ate them anyway!
We scampered around the woods trying to be sure we had actually made it onto the Panorama trail. None of us had ever taken it before and some of us couldn't resist the short cuts, doing unspeakable things to mother nature.
We loved the people watching along the trail. There were those who looked like they just stepped out of an REI ad, the creeper chick who couldn't figure out how to rub in her sunscreen, those who thought it would be a fabulous time to put the girls on display, those who couldn't possibly hike without a large knife strapped to their leg, or the friendly man-pri wearing folks who just smiled or nodded and said,"halloh".
While some parts of the trail were flat like this, there were lots of ups and downs as we made our way up and out of the valley, around the outer rim and back down again.
We loved seeing the valley from a different perspective than we ever had before.
We lunched and cat napped near Illilouette Falls in the warm sunshine.
The clouds looked so cool as they rolled in and gave us a little break from the direct sunlight we'd been hiking in most of the day. And while we had all climbed half dome multiple times, we had never seen it from this angle. It looked even more impressive than ever to me.
But the thing that I really couldn't get over was looking back down at Vernal and Nevada Falls and seeing how high we had climbed and how far we had come, and we weren't even done yet!
As the hours passed the clouds continued to roll in.
By the time we had made it around to Glacier Point we had hiked about 9 miles, seen amazing sights, laughed at some ridiculous folks, eaten plenty of cookies, come around to a more familiar view of Half Dome, and reached the conclusion that the weather channel was either clueless or liars!
Most folks came running back in to the gift shop, but we were like a bunch of boy scouts, totally prepared with our ponchos! We took a few pictures and read the plaques before starting down the completely empty trail back down into the valley.
I was so excited by the storm I couldn't resist doing my little irish jig. Shelley tried snapping it but instead just got a picture of Corey and Kirsten most likely laughing at me in my giddy state.
It may be named the Four Mile Trail, but really it was 4.6 and by the time we got back to where the shuttle could take us to where the truck was parked we had added at least another mile. I think we decided it was close to 15 miles that we had hiked, and who knows how much in elevation gains and losses. All I know is that by the end of the day Shelley's dogs were barking, and there was talk of knees, backs and bunions. And while some of us may have thought the kangaroos had ruined it for Kirsten, she even let Corey give her a piggy back ride for a little while!
In spite of our exhausted state, or perhaps because of it, we were a raucous bunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant in Oakhurst that night. Chips and salsa never taste quite as good and elbows are never funnier than they are after a long hike up, down and all around Yosemite! I love my friends and our awesome hiking days!!