Everything was put on hold when COVID-19 started, including our plans to go on a 14-day trek to Everest Base Camp. I was going crazy being stuck in the house and constantly getting stressed at work. I waited patiently and checked everyday when Yosemite would reopen amidst the global pandemic. They finally opened Yosemite to visitors in June with day-use reservations. Day-use reservations are available online at recreation.gov for $2. Only one reservation is needed for each vehicle and you must arrive at the date listed on your reservation. It is then valid for seven days including the date listed on the reservation. According to Yosemite NP website, this system will be in place through October 2020 to adhere to public health guidelines.
The last time we were in Yosemite (June 2019), my husband and I completed the Vernal and Nevada Falls via the Mist trail (8.8 miles with 2,191 ft elevation gain). The views were out of this world but there were too many people on the trail. This year we wanted to go on a trail that is less crowded and a little bit more challenging. My go-to app AllTrails led me to Upper Yosemite Falls. The app recorded this trail at 7.2 miles out and back with 3,175 ft elevation gain. As usual I am never EVER ready no matter how much research I do. I knew this trail was going to be hard but I always tend to underestimate.
We arrived at Yosemite Visitor Center’s parking lot at about 7:30 in the morning. We parked there because we thought we could use the free shuttle but unfortunately they did not have the shuttles running due to COVID-19 concerns. Around 7:45 AM, we started walking to the trailhead, which was probably a few miles away from the parking lot. By the time we arrived at the trailhead it was already starting to get hot. The first half of the trail had plenty of shade but there were lots of bugs. I would recommend average hikers to bring 3-4 liters of water, trekking poles and to wear boots with ankle support. I constantly watched my steps but I still almost rolled my ankles a couple of times. The second half of the trail was exposed and had what seemed to be a never-ending switchbacks. It took us four hours to get to the viewpoint with plenty of breaks. We found ourselves a nice, shady area and stayed there to eat lunch. I can’t say that going down the trail was easier because my knees were sore after three hours of keeping myself from rolling down the steep, rocky trail. I think it helped that we still had to walk about 15 minutes to get to the car because I had a “cool down” period as opposed to me usually sitting down right after a strenuous hike. Surprisingly I was not sore at all the day after the hike.
It was nice to be able to get a chance to enjoy Yosemite with the reservation system in place. I wish they would continue to use it so that other people will also have a chance to experience the beauty of Yosemite like we did. We made sure that throughout the hike we maintained social distancing. I also brought 70% alcohol in a spray bottle to sanitize our hands with before eating or touching our faces.
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