I have no one to blame but myself for carrying an extra thirty pounds while hiking in Yosemite Valley. The last time I was hiking up to Nevada Falls along the Mist Trail, pre-COVID, I was in better shape. However, this first-time trip with my spouse into Yosemite Valley was better motivation to help push me upward.
Of several choices in Yosemite this year, one of my hiking buddies thought my wife and I would be better suited this year to an easy trail along the valley floor. It was a conversation with our son, when he said he was unable to dog-sit for us, that we learned he and his friend were going to be in the Valley on the same day. Observing the spectacular falls at this time of year, I wanted to hike the Mist Trail. Leaving all the heavier sweatshirts and jackets in the car, the good weather, and at the proper moment, mist from the falls made the last hundred granite steps to Vernal Falls a good stopping point.
Absent Tommy and Michael, we might talked ourselves out of continuing upward to Nevada Falls. Once at the Vernal Falls and looking over, I stated we were going to get up to the top and then descend via the John Muir Trail. It surprised the younger members of our group. Just as a friend of mine goaded me years ago to push through to the top of the falls, my memory of that day did the same for me today. It was worth the extra work to get there. The extra work was focusing my Merrill hiking boots, worn probably a year past useful life, staying sure-footed to the granite steps, mud and gravel. The planned descent via the John Muir was not to be. I might have underestimated the park service website stating that the portion of the trail descending from Nevada Falls is closed in Winter. Though the weather was warm, snow clung to nooks and crannies above us. Ice was still present apparently. Everyone goes back down the same “thousand” granite steps we had come up.
Where later in the season, hundreds of very fit younger men and women are bounding upward on such trails, only a dozen or so were going past me as we went. Several couples like ourselves were challenging themselves. I was motivated by some hikers our age who looked as though they had been doing this all their lives. I chose to be that motivator for others as my old hiking buddy was for me. A visual “Let the fat guy in his Sixties making it without assistance up and down, give you the needed push”. Next year, we will conquer more trails here. Who wants to tackle Upper Yosemite Falls, an eight-hour round trip? If we go in June, perhaps the Four-Mile Trail, up to, or down from, Glacier Point?