Thursday, August 4, 2011

Clouds Rest 6/22/11

Matt and I are known for making our hiking buddies fear for their lives, or at the very least hate us and hate hiking, and there's usually at least a little bit of crying. We like adventure and danger and we tend to forget that not everyone shares that passion. We also forget that nature can be way more badass than it seems.

Don't underestimate mountains; there will always be something you didn't prepare for. Sometimes nature just wants to kill you.

Our climb to Clouds Rest was a 20-mile, 12 hour hike--the longest we've ever done. We started at Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley (at 8:30am, but I'd recommend starting much earlier), even though it is possible to shorten the hike by about five miles by taking a scenic drive on Tioga Road to the Sunrise Trailhead at Tenaya Lake. Why bother getting in the car when you can start from your campground and just walk an extra five miles?

   High Sierra Loop Trail

Judging from the research we did before the trip, few people start from Happy Isles and even fewer do it as a day hike. We figured we'd try it anyway; only 6000' elevation gain over 10.5 miles. Also our first time on the John Muir Trail.

The Half Dome cables weren't up in the morning so the trail wasn't very crowded. About 6 miles in, the Half Domers and Clouds Resters split so we didn't see many people the rest of the way. It was just us and the grouse (that repetitive grunting sound is not bear grunting).

Good luck.

When you see that sign, it's about to get crazy hard. Very steep. Lots of switchbacks (more non-bear grunting.) Once we passed the pinnacles, the biggest challenge was trying to hike through the snow without slipping, and trying not to lose the trail under the snow.

In the last half mile, the snow got deeper and we finally encountered some fellow humans who warned us about post holing.

Almost time to scramble.

The final section before the summit is steep and scary as hell (class 1.5? I sure used my hands). Go slow and don't turn around or look down.

We reached the summit around 3pm. As usual, the views make every bit of the hike worth it, even though there isn't really a place that feels safe enough to just relax and take in the views. Kind of feels like you're about to fall to your death no matter where you go on the summit (not a joke, it's happened before).

Looking down on adorable little Half Dome.

   Doing my best marmot impression.

  Clark Range.

Cathedral Range

Everything went smoothly on the descent, but we were hoping to cut off a few miles at the end of the hike by taking the Mist Trail.

I don't usually give good advice, but here's some: don't take short cuts you haven't planned in advance.

The Mist Trail did indeed cut off about 2.5 miles, but we weren't prepared for the mist. Usually in the Summer, my buddy Vernal will give you a refreshing spray as you walk along the Mist Trail, but this Summer, he must be pretty pissed because that asshole was smacking the hell out of us. You need something to block your face from the "mist" (we used our hats) because breathing is important, and a raincoat is probably a good idea if you don't like wearing soaked clothes.

Just before the scary part. Sucker.

The scary part.

So Vernal Fall tried to kill us, but I've learned to hate-respect the 318 foot douchebag.

All photos by Matti.


  1. I've been hiking with you and I don't hate you...that much ;)

    Amen to this post, sister. I think you guys have put the fear of hiking in the mountains in me. If they are not the baby mountains, they want to kill you!

  2. yep, the SMs usually get along with humans pretty well (their canyons can get kinda scary though)

  3. What you do is not hiking, it's ultimate rock climbing on crack with no belay or warning signs. Well at least now everyone is on notice to climb at their own risk.