Yosemite – Vernal and Nevada Falls

After bouncing a few vacation ideas around for the Labor Day long weekend, one day the Husband calls me up to ask if I would like to go to Yosemite. The next thing I know is our trip to Yosemite is all booked. Jumping into trip planner mode, I drew up plans and back-up plans for all the days. Sadly, just a few days before we were scheduled to visit,the forests at the rim of the park caught fire.  Our disaster management plan – check if the park is open. We checked if the park was open the night before we were to leave, and since it was we decided to stick it out.

Since I now have my learner’s permit, as decided I drove down to the airport. My first time on the freeway. At 4:00 am! A closed bridge and a mini adventure later I was tearing through Philly airport, with the Husband strolling behind. On the flight, the Husband was frankly stunned at my knowledge of the complimentary beverages. It suddenly hit him that I had been taking these flights a little too often in the short while that I had been here. We picked up the rental car  and a friend at San Jose airport and set out on the first leg of our vacation.

On reaching Yosemite, we found that the road indicated by the GPS was closed due to the fire. As we had already found out at the closed bridge, the stupid device does not suggest alternative routes. It just finds ways to get you back to the same road. A few circles later, we managed to get on to another road and made it to the lodge just in time to grab some dinner. Since we planned to do the strenuous Yosemite falls hike the next day, we decided to turn in and get some rest.

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Ash settled on the rear windshield and all over the car and everything else

The next morning we opened the door with our bags full of food and our hearts full of enthusiasm, only to be greeted by a smokey vista and slight burning smell.  The ranger at the visitors centre warned us against doing any strenuous hike as the air quality was very poor. With the Yosemite falls out, and most other falls either dry or down to a trickle. we settled on the Vernal falls and Nevada falls hike. These hikes had been classified as easy to moderate. Having read several people saying that the Yosemite falls hike is a killer, I was secretly happy that we wouldn’t be doing it. Easy to moderate was something I was sure I could manage.

Blessed Be!!

Blessed Be!!

The first leg of the hike was an easy walk to the footbridge across the Vernal falls. Then started the steps. Flights and flights of steep steps cut into rock. It reminded me of the steps to go to ancient temples. If I had climbed the steps like this instead of taking the motorable road to *Tirupati,  atleast the Lord would have been pleased. But the Lord in His greatness shows Himself in different ways.  In the pool at the base of the Vernal falls, we saw this beautiful rainbow, shimmering across on the water.

People snaking up the mountainside

People snaking up the mountainside

Countless steps later we reached the top of the falls. After resting here for a while, we continued our way up to the Nevada falls. Before that however, we lightened our backpacks, grabbing a small bite  and replenishing the water we had lost. Since there are no clear indicators here, we had to ask around a bit before we found ourselves on the right path. The only way to know that we were still on the right path was that there were others walking on the same path. That, and well that there is no other real path.  The hike is really quite moderate.  I got out of breath. More than once, I wondered why I was doing this, since the real beauty of any waterfall is best experienced at the foot and not at the top! At no point, however did I feel that I was going to collapse or my knees were going to give away.

Vernal Falls

Vernal Falls

Once at the top, my sense of exhilaration was so great, that I found a nice shady spot under the bridge and settled down for a nap. The way down was far easier. Curiously, my hands and feet seemed to get swollen on the way down. No amount of raising them over my head and waggling them seemed to help. Since the boys were also experiencing this, I figured there was nothing to worry about.

The hike was a 5.4 mile round trip with a 610 m elevation gain. Finishing it with no damages spurred us on for the next day’s hike.

*Tirupati – abode of Lord Venkateswara, better and fondly known as Balaji

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