As I was about to sleep in my tent last night, I compensated for hours
snoozing in the car by reading the New York Times for awhile, let's
see... Let's Go for a bit: what is there to do in Yosemite, anyways?
Scenic lookouts to drive around to, no thanks. Here we go: hiking up
It's listed as a 16-mile roundtrip hike, advised only for those in good shape. The top is prone to being struck by lightning. The trail rises ~4,800 vertical feet. Trying to climb El Capitan's huge, sheer granite face is suicidal given my total lack of rock climbing abilities; in comparison, Half Dome seems half reasonable:)
I can't talk any of the cotravelers into it: they'd rather drive around to see more sights, maybe throwing in short hikes. We make plans to meet back at the parking lot near the Happy Isles trailhead at 7 p.m., with them coming back every half hour thereafter and assuming something bad has happened if I'm not back by 8. armed with 2 Nalgene bottles full of water, 2 Clif energy bars, my camera, imitation Hunter S. Thompson sunglasses, my headlight in case I run really late, some tissues for my lingering snot-filledness, and a tattoo instead of a shirt, I'm off around 12:40.
This turns out to be a truly massive undertaking. I'm held up ~15-20 minutes before the uppermost portion, with the rock's open face closed for construction. It could have been worse: some of the ~dozen other hikers have been waiting for hours to ascend. A mixed blessing is that this forces me to take a longer break for the first time on the hike, putting me behind but making me actually relax.
Finally, the trail reopens. I'm at the head of the pack, sucking wind as I try to hurry past 8,000 feet. The final ~300 vertical feet start with cables up a steep granite rock, pieces of wood and support posts every ~5 feet. There's a massive pile of gloves people left there after using them for the cable; a ranger claims they hauled down 200 pounds last year and tells us to take pairs back down with us.
Up the cables and on the summit both remind me that heights will always be scary. Altitude, exertion, and lack of fitness would each nearly get me huffing; the triple slam has me struggling to the summit. Ok, 10 sections then you can stop for a few breaths... repeat, good... there aren't any clouds in the sky, so stop thinking about lightning... The view from the summit finalizes it for me: even though I'm beat, 20 minutes late when I reach bottom, and still not quite sure which waterfall is Yosemite Falls, my hike was a better way for me to spend the day than driving around to a more thorough viewing of sights.
The drive to Tahoe gets rerouted to Reno: at 9 p.m., we're all pumped for a big night of drinking and gambling. Not so much as we pass the fork where we need to pick between Reno and Tahoe around midnight. 5 miles towards the former, we decide to head to the latter. ~an hour later, we crash at the first Lake Tahoe campsite we find.