I usually initiate the hiking season with a jaunt up the Yosemite Falls trail, which I typically complete in April or May, but April's constant rain disrupted my schedule. Mother Nature can be so inconvenient!
The above average late precipitation, however, made for a robust falls, full of life and roaring at us hikers. Past Columbia Point, at the first view of the upper falls, mist from the vertical waves danced on the air, and cooled my over heated body! With my usual sense of perfect timing, I had picked a 90F day to hike and began my hike at 10:00 am, just in time for the afternoon sun.
For those of you who haven't yet hiked the Yosemite Falls Trail, let me recite some scary statistics. The trail runs 3.3 miles straight up for an elevation gain of 3,000 feet. Do the math and the elevation gain comes out to 1,000 feet per mile. Try that on a stairmaster! Yet despite the strenuous nature of the hike, the opportunity to stand directly over the crest of upper Yosemite Falls and watch it plunge 1,400 feet below makes the effort well worth it.
Once of the best parts about living and working near Yosemite is the chance to observe the park in different seasons. Although I could probably walk the Yosemite Falls Trail in my sleep (having completed it well over two dozen times), some aspect of the hike is always different. One year most of the final switchbacks were covered in snow, and an ice crystal hung down the falls like a holiday ornament. Another year I made the trip in April on a particularly windy day, and the force of the wind tore the falls in two at times. This year the trail was clear of any snow or even water. At the crest of the ridge, two red snowplants peeked out, probably wondering why they had waited to arrive only to greet the hot weather.
The view from the top revealed a saturated valley overrun in places by the gorged Merced River. Faint memories of the flood of 1997 resounded, although the high water was not even close to that year's mark. Yet the meadows were decidely boggy in all directions.
On my descent, I had a once-in-a-lifetime experience. A rainbow stretched from the trail to the cliff below. I was actually able to touch the end of the rainbow, although the legendary pot of gold was not in sight. Except if you count the stunning view of Yosemite Falls at its peak.