January 13, 2012

Day 5, 22nd August 2011. Yosemite National Park

Gary woke me up at 5.20am, just before our alarm was meant to go off. I couldn't believe it was morning already, I felt like I had only just gone to sleep. Going out to the pub before an early morning of hiking in Yosemite is not reccomended. Got up, brushed our teeth, got dressed, had breakfast and we left camp at 6.30am.
We got into Yosemite at about 7am, on the way in we stopped to take some photos.

We had decided as a group to do the 'Upper Yosemite Fals' hike, which Art said would take us about 4 hours and was one of the best ones to do for good scenery. After we did that we were going to do some other activities in the park until 5pm when we were being picked up. We had to get a bus to the hiking trail head, so we started the walk at 8.10am.

After only 10 minutes of walking, I was already out of breath, hot and tired, and I was wondering what the hell I had let myself in for! It was really steep uphill and was a lot harder than I thought it would be. We ended up splitting into 2 groups, because some people were much faster at doing it than others. Obviously I was in the slower walking group with Gary, Abby, Shannon, Caroline and Donna. The first part of the walk was all through forest so it wasn't very scenic, but after about an hour we got out of the trees and could see some pretty views.

We were stopping for a rest every 5 minutes. It was not easy at all, it was so intense. Everyone was so out of breath. We finally reached a little rest place and came to the conclusion that we must be half way there... (HAHA I now know that in reality, we were not even a quarter of the way there)
So we had a little rest for about 20 mins and looked out over the absolutley beautiful view.

 At this point, the rest of the group that we were with decided they were satisfied with the view and that they didn't want to go any further. I also didn't think I could reach the top, but Gary really wanted to and I also wanted to say I'd been able to do it so the 2 of us decided to go on alone.

2 hours later, when we were still walking, and nowhere near the top, we came to the realisation that we hadn't been halfway. We had only bought 1 bottle of water each which we had finished long ago an we were so thirsty. Finally we came across a stream which we drank out of like animals and filled our water bottles up. We also ate all our sandwiches at this point so we had no food left for the rest of the day.

Waterrrrrr finally!

My poor tired legs :(

It was getting harder and harder to keep going, I was so exhausted and thinking more and more every secod that I could not do it. The path was so trecherously steep it was like walking up really high stairs, that were made of rock and slippery. I really wanted to give up, and all of a sudden we saw Kirsty, Lauren, Volker, Aaron and Daniel, we had caught up with the faster group, so that gave me a little extra motivation! They were tired and hot too and we nearly didn't see them as they were sitting under a huge tree trying to get out of the sun.

The last section of the hike was the hardest, it was even steeper and it was midday so it was getting even hotter and there was no shade. At this point I have to make a confession that I would not have made it up if Gary hadn't taken my backpack for me. He carried his on his back and mine on his front. I feel really bad that he had to do that, but I couldn't cope.
The last hour from the top was the worst of all. Kirsty and I were stopping every minute it felt like, and we were desperatley searching for some shade, but there was none. One thing that was nice at this point was how ecouraging and nice strangers were. Being in the National Parks was kind of like being in Disney, everyone smiles at eachother and is really friendly. We saw lots of people on their way down who told us that we were nearly there, at one point we stopped and a lady passed and told us we were only about 50ft away so that gave us a last burst of energy (she lied, it was like a 10 min walk!!)


Once we had made it to the top, I thought all the hard work was over. It was not. We had to cross a super slippery steep ledge to actually get to the waterfall. We were climbing across on our hands and feet, there was nowhere to walk so it was really dangerous, so easy to just fall and die! (Just to add in here that at the time we were there in August, something like 14 people had already died there this year, so I'm not making it up about the danger)

It felt so good to finally each the top, I was so proud of myself (and everyone else) for actually doing it because it had been so difficult to get there, I am so glad I didn't give up. Of course Gary being Gary he wanted to actually swim in the waterfall. He was the only one who did because the water was freezing, but it was so nice to put our legs in and splash water on ourselves to cool down! We stayed there for about an hour, we probably drunk half the water from the waterfall we were that thirsty, and I think we found some crisps (or chips I should say in the USA) in our bag and ate those.

It was so amazing to be up there, I couldn't beleive I had climbed a mountain. Quite shocking really considering how unfit I am, but it was the best feeling in the world being up there. It was so beautiful and amazing, so happy that I made it.

The group of us that got there

Then we had the task of getting back down...  :( as soon as we started walking I felt sick, dizzy and I felt really weak. My lips were all tingly and Gary said he was actually worried about me because I'd gone so white. He never ever normally worries about me, he always thinks I'm being dramatic, so this was a definate first. I just wanted to stay up there and not go back down, but we had to.
I thought ging down would be a lot easier, it wasn't. Well it was a little easier, but because it was so steep and sometimes slippery, it hurts your ankles so much and I was so tired I kept tripping over.

Finally reached the bottom at 4.15pm (it had taken us 8 hours compared to Art's prediction of 4!!) and we were so glad it was over. It's the best thing I have ever achieved in my life. The total hike was 7.6 miles long and 2,600 feet high. I've ever been so exhausted in my life, but it was so worth it. We took the bus back to the place where we were meeting to get pizza for dinner, which I was too tired to even eat. Drove back to camp and got there at about 6.30pm everyone was way too tired to do anything at all tonight.

Gary happy with his day

Me looking exhausted

Had a well needed shower as we were covered in dust/dirt from all the sweating of the day and I think pretty much went to bed as soon as we could because our bodies were aching so much. It was 100% the hardest day (physically) of my life, but also one of the best days of my life.

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