It’d be crazy to drive straight to metropolis LA after Burning Man in Nevada. To ease into normal civilisation, where’s the ultimate place for downtime? Yosemite, California. But you don’t have to undergo the playa to appreciate the national park because oh, you know, it’s only one of the world’s most outstanding landscapes.
With one full day in Yosemite, we chose to conquer one trail: Top of Upper Yosemite Fall, aka the second toughest route and “the mother of all stairmaster workouts” on the Yosemite day hikes list. 823 metres of elevation, 6-8 hours return. The trail starts from Camp 4, Yosemite Valley where we – four Australians, a Hungarian we picked up at Burning Man and a Dutch we met at camp – pitched our tents amongst giant boulders and cheeky squirrels, sandwiched between towering granite cliffs.
“How do you feel about cardio?” I asked one fellow camper, about to give some self-appraisal being a long-distance jogger. I said too soon, as an introduction with the Upper Yosemite Fall hike is far from polite. It shows no mercy, immediately forcing you into a zig-zag ascent – 60 switchbacks altogether to be exact – climbing the very cliff side that walled us in on ground. Panting, “I swear, guys, I’m actually fit.”
We were all in the zone, nothing but the sound of stomping boots. Our motivation? Every direction boasting a galore of rocky mountains covered in pine trees, its outlines majestically dipping and curving into one another telling us the story of glaciers that once sculpted the grand canyons. Mother Nature’s craft through nothing but time.
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TOP OF UPPER YOSEMITE FALL HIKE
Starting point: Camp 4 near Shuttle Stop #7.
Distance / time: 12 kms round-trip, 6-8 hours.
Difficulty / elevation: Very strenuous, 823 m elevation.
WHERE WE STAYED: CAMP 4
- Open all year (check the official website for updates).
- No RVs/trailers. If you have a campervan, you must park your vehicle in the parking lot and pitch your tent separately on the camping grounds.
- First-come, first-served. Camp 4 often fills before 9am each day, May through September as there are only 35 sites.
- Daily fee: $6/person. This does not include the national park entrance fees.