Being away from family is hard around the holidays, but there are ways to enjoy the day even when thousands of miles from your closest loved ones. Hiking, is the activity that I chose to take up my Thanksgiving this year – who would’ve thought?! 😉
Since I am going back east for Christmas, it wasn’t feasible for me to get home for Thanksgiving too, so I hung around here and planned out a big hike: Yosemite Point via the Upper Yosemite Falls trail. This trail is about 4.2 miles up (and I mean up) with an overall gain of over 4,000 feet. It did not disappoint and to date, is one of the toughest but most rewarding hikes I’ve done.
I can’t stress this tip enough: start early. The climb is no joke, there are endless rocky switchbacks that are super steep. I got to the trailhead around 7:45am and started my trek.
Immediately, the uphill climb started. Before long you reach Columbia Rock (about a mile in) and are rewarded with some views of the valley.
The early morning was casting some weird shadows over the valley but it was still beautiful. I didn’t stop long, as I knew I had a long uphill climb ahead of me and I only know one speed when hiking! I kept climbing upwards and eventually was treated with a short downhill portion. It was a pleasant treat but I knew the worst was yet to come. Soon I rounded a corner and was treated to a view of the falls!
The views were already unbeatable and I couldn’t wait to get up to the top! This is where the rocky, exposed switchbacks started and they were tough. It was only in the 9:00 hour and it was already hot! I stopped for a brief period a few times but continued trekking up.
I got excited when I started to see more greenery, because I knew I was almost there! Next thing I knew everything was leveling out and the path was leading me to the edge.
Made it! It was a loooong way down. I went down to the waterfall’s edge where you follow some steep steps with handrails before turning back and jumping back on the trail up towards Yosemite Point. I was treated to this view of the water leading down in to the falls which was beautiful.
It’s about .8 of a mile to get up to Yosemite Point, but if you have the energy/time/daylight to do it, it’s a must. My legs were shaking by the time I got up there but you guys…
You’re rewarded with the most incredible view of the park and of Half Dome with the Sierras all across the skyline. It was unreal. I stayed up there for a snack and to take lots of pictures and then turned around and returned the way that I came. Those switchbacks were plain hard going up, but coming back down was scary! It’s two days later right now and my muscles are SO sore, but it was worth it.
With the sun up a little higher in the sky on the way down, it was hot! I couldn’t believe how many people were on their way up at the 11 o’clock hour. Do yourself a favor and don’t put yourself through that, start early! I had 3L of water with me and went through 2L easy, and cracked open my 1L bottle on my way down.
On the way down, you’re treated with even better views of the falls at this time because of where the sun was hitting them…
I went quick on the way back down, to the dismay of my knees and quads, but I really only know one speed and I get anxious to finish the hike on the way back down, haha! Once I hit Columbia Rock, the crowds started up and I had to pass a lot of people. Luckily most were kind and would hear me coming and pull off to the side – trail courtesy at its finest. I was surprised to see how crowded it was, given that it was Thanksgiving Day, but it also made me happy to see so many people enjoying the beautiful park together on a day that’s all about being thankful.
Overall, it was one of the best hikes I’ve ever done. From my car back to my car I covered 9.38 miles in a little over 4 hours with a 4,000+ foot climb.