Adventures on The North Rim, Yosemite National Park (Yosemite Falls, Eagle Peak, El Capitan)

5:53 p.m. on July 3, 2013 (EDT)
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This trip sure was an adventure! We encountered two bears, vampire mosquitoes, one billion switchbacks, and an enchanted forest, while hiking to the top of the largest waterfall in North America and one of the largest granite monoliths in the world. To sum it up, the only word I can think of is epic.


We stopped at Tunnel View on our way into the valley. In case you aren't familiar with Yosemite, this is one of the most famous vistas in the world. El Capitan is on the left, Half Dome is peeking around the corner, the waterfall is Bridalveil Fall, and the three big rocks behind it are the Three Graces.



Half Dome and the Merced River from Sentinel Bridge, approaching Cook's Meadow


Yosemite Falls from Cook's Meadow


Jay and I at the trailhead in Camp 4

I have no idea why, but for some reason when I read the description for this trail, I did not give it near enough respect. It gained 2800' over 3.2 miles via an endless series of exposed switchbacks and stairs. That is equivalent to two Empire State Buildings on top of eachother. Yikes. That was just to the top of Yosemite Falls. Our destination, El Capitan, was still five miles away.


View of Half Dome from Columbia Rock


Upper Yosemite Fall



Yep - that is a Duck Dynasty bandana I am wearing. We were pouring sweat at this point! Give this trail respect, because it is nothing short of a BEAST for a 3.2 miler.

Since we had another 5 miles to go, we skipped the top of the falls (.2 miles) and Eagle Peak (.3 mile) and opted to hit them on the return trip. On the way to El Cap, we walked through this crazy forest that I swear was enchanted. It was kind of creepy going through it at twilight! It reminded me of the Cascades. We bathed in bugspray, but these VAMPIRE mosquitoes attacked us pretty much the whole time we were in the forest. I am from the swamplands of South Carolina, so I am very familiar with mosquitoes, but these were a special breed! The coolest thing about the 5 mile trek through the forest was that we only saw four other people. This was so nice, seeing as how we had just come from the Yosemite Falls trail that was loaded with people! We finally came to some exposed rock face on the back side of El Cap and saw a decent spot to camp that was mosquito-free. We kept going further, but we ran into a massive bear, so we retreated back to the rock face and camped there. I am convinced that because the bear heard my commanding yells of "GET OUTTA HERE BEAR" that he also retreated. We didn't see him again, thankfully. :)


Twilight half moon from our campsite


We didn't get the typical stars because the moon was so bright, but we did catch some pretty sweet alpenglow. Here is Half Dome from our campsite.


Early the next morning, we headed for the summit of El Cap, which was a very short walk from our site. I did not expect to see trees on the summit!











Last view from the summit



Half Dome-shaped rock


Our campsite with a fabulous view




On our way back through the enchanted forest, we saw another bear! He was not near as large as the first one, but he was still pretty big. He was very curious. We didn't want to stay in his space for too long, but Pack was able to snag these shots of him.



I read that we should take the .3 detour to Eagle Peak. It was pretty straight uphill, but it was well worth it!




El Capitan from Eagle Peak



Eagle Peak






Jay's feet with quite a long drop off below



Yosemite Falls



The vampire mosquito-infested enchanted forest




The view from the tallest waterfall in North America, Yosemite Falls




Sign at the top of Yosemite Falls



Evil switchbacks



The only view in the valley of Yosemite Falls and Half Dome in the same frame




 We ended the nineteen mile hike with a stop in the village for some pizza. Then we headed across the park to Mammoth Lakes and stayed at the Sierra Nevada Lodge for the night. We we lucky enough to be able to have a nice post-hike soak in their hot tubs! What an epic two day adventure!

8:17 p.m. on July 3, 2013 (EDT)
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Awesome Ashliegh! Thanks for showing this....truly epic!

9:27 p.m. on July 3, 2013 (EDT)
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Nice work!  How hot was it? 

9:44 p.m. on July 3, 2013 (EDT)
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I loved your photos and report.  We didn't get up to the top of Yosemite Falls - did the much easier Vernal - or El Capitan when there but got to watch climbers on El Capitan settling in for the night halfway up - can't imagine sleeping hanging off that cliff! You've inspired me to try the hike up Yosemite Falls if we make it out there again.  Such a gorgeous place.

11:01 p.m. on July 3, 2013 (EDT)
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Looks like a great trip!  That campsite has a world-class view.

Voracious mosquitoes are always present during early summer.  You have to wait until mid-August before they start to taper off.

Your enchanted forest looks like typical red fir forest, it is very common in the upper middle elevations in the sierras.

10:10 a.m. on July 4, 2013 (EDT)
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WOW! That's all I got. Just WOW!

1:35 p.m. on July 5, 2013 (EDT)
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Quite an American treasure...thanks for sharing your awesome photos. I can't believe that I've been to the San Fran area 3 times and still haven't made it out to the time!

3:20 p.m. on July 5, 2013 (EDT)
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Great pictures! I hiked the entire rim around Yosemite from the Tunnel View area to Glacier Point to Little Yosemite Valley,Tenya Canyon around above the Royal Arches,Yosemite Falls, to El Capitain in 1980 when I was 24. Your images brought back many memories, Thanks!

3:36 p.m. on July 5, 2013 (EDT)
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That was Awesome.Pictures were great..Thanks for shareing you Epic hike..

9:40 p.m. on July 5, 2013 (EDT)
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it looks like an awesome hike. great pictures, especially the one with the falls and half dome. cool view from your campsite. thanks for sharing!

4:15 p.m. on July 6, 2013 (EDT)
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The hike up Yosemite Falls is truly grueling.  About 10 years ago, I was dumb enough to hike up the falls at 4 P.M, half-drunk, no water, with slip-on Vans.  I made it and came back into Camp 4 in the dark.. but promised myself I would never do a hike in that fashion again.  About 5 years ago, I went through the backside from Yosemite Creek to the Falls.  Much less grueling, but alot more time.  Great pictures!

8:31 a.m. on July 9, 2013 (EDT)
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That looks like a fantastic hike. Nice pics too

9:31 a.m. on July 9, 2013 (EDT)
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Awesome trip and excellent photos, Ashleigh! 

I'm jealous of your hike though the twilit "enchanted" woods. Hiking in pristine places in the gloaming or by moonlight is so very special. 

The alpenglow shot of Half Dome is stunning! 

Do you mind if I ask a few stat questions about the trip? I'm curious about: 
~highest points of el.
~Lowest points of el. 
~average daily mileage
~total trip mileage

It's great you got to see a few bears, and also that you didn't see them TOO  closely.  :) Could you tell if they were black or Griz? The pics of the second one were too fuzzy to tell, but it kinda looked like a blackie. 

10:28 a.m. on July 9, 2013 (EDT)
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Nice picturess of Yosemite. there is so much you can do there. Lots of trails to hike. Brings back memories for me

11:30 a.m. on July 9, 2013 (EDT)
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Thanks! I hope you have a blast on your trip! I can't wait to see your report. Be safe!


Thank you! It was about 80 in the valley that day. It got a little cooler as we got higher, but it felt super hot on those exposed switchbacks.


Thank you! Vernal Fall is also beautiful. I am working on another trip report for our Half Dome hike that includes Vernal. I also did a report a while ago called The Mist Trail. You should definitely try the Yosemite Falls trail if you can. It is brutal, but beautiful.


Thanks! The trip was amazing. I had always heard about the vicious mosquitoes, but we didn't really experience them the last time we were there. That forest was the only place on our whole trip that they were bad. They were HORRIBLE there. They were substantially worse when we went through it at twilight. The forest also seemed enchanted as we were going through it at twilight (not as much the next day). I didn't take any pictures then because my hands were occupied swatting mosquitoes. I have never seen a forest seem to come to life like that one. 


I wish you could have been with us! I can't wait to bag some 6ers this weekend!


Thank you! I am glad you enjoyed the report. You should definitely make it out there if you can. It is the most beautiful place I have ever seen and there is so much to do!


Thanks! I am jealous of your hike. That must have been fabulous!

@denis daly, trailjester, and TJ,

Thank you!


It is definitely grueling. Very rough on the feet and legs going up and down. I read that there are over 135 switchbacks. I actually saw many people on the trail that fit your description of yourself, so don't feel bad! Several people wearing flip flops, cut off jean shorts and carrying a 16 oz water bottle. Surprisingly, a lot of them made it to the top somehow! Glad to hear the other way wasn't as tough. 


The forest was so cool at twilight! I wish I could have taken some pictures of it with that awesome lighting. The fact that we saw two bears, multiple deer, pika, squirrels, and birds of all varieties made it even better! 

The Valley/trailhead @Camp 4 is approximately 4000', Yosemite Falls 6740' (height 2425'), Eagle Peak 7779' (which appears to be the high point on the North Rim), and El Capitan 7569'. Our first day we went about 9 miles and the second day we went about 10 miles (19 total). It should be about 17 total from the trailhead if you include everything that we did, but we also had to walk a mile each way from our vehicle. 

The bears were both Black Bears. Grizzlies are actually extinct in California. However, the first bear that we encountered was black and the second, younger one was brown. Black bears can be brown too though. For what it's worth, I am very happy that they were both black and not grizzlies! :) 


Thanks! There really is so much to do there. Every time I leave, I am sad because there is still so much that I want to see and do. I wish I lived closer so I could go more often!

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