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Monday, June 29, 2015

U.S. Trails - The Four Mile Trail at Yosemite National Park

For the visually oriented, skip straight to the pictures here.

After the Half Dome hike yesterday I wanted to give my legs a rest. At the same time I didn't want to drive all over Yosemite for a series of short hikes. I was thinking about going to Upper Yosemite Falls, which is only 7.6 miles round-trip, but it apparently consists of a lot of steps. My knees vetoed that option. Instead, I went for the Four Mile Trail, which is kind of misleading because it's more like the 4.7 Mile Trail (or 9.4 miles round-trip).

I originally thought about parking my car at the Visitors' Center and then taking the shuttle to the trailhead, but the El Capitan shuttle didn't start until 9AM. I didn't want to sit around the Visitors' Center for an hour so I went off on my own. I started from the trail at 8:30, so the temperature was still cool.

A series of switchbacks slowly took me above the treeline and lo and behold the great Yosemite Falls was in the distance. It was a pretty sight - too bad I only had my wide angle lens with me so I couldn't zoom in on it. I seared it into my memory instead.

Continuing up I eventually reached the trail gate, where the view opened up even more. Now the Half Dome and North Dome, as well as Tenaya Canyon and the Royal Arches were all visible. By then I started to feel a slight fatigue to my calves from the Half Dome hike yesterday. But as I was already ~2.7 miles in, it would have been silly to turn back. Onward I went.

The last fifth or so of the trail flattens out and leads into the forest before opening back out onto Glacier Point. The crowd factor suddenly jumped from zero to a hundred. Since Glacier Point is accessible by car, a lot of people just drive there. There was also a crew there filming an ad for the state of California. So it was a party up at Glacier Point.

Here are some of the views from 7,200 feet up:

There's a shuttle that goes from Glacier Point back to the Four Mile trailhead, but that's $25 a head. Heck no. 

See photos of my Four Mile Trail hike here.

Total miles walked today: ~9.4
Total water drank today: a rainfall x 2

Four Mile Trail Summary
Difficulty: Like drinking bad coffee - hard but doable
Length: ~9.4 miles
Altitude change: ~3,200 feet 
Time: On average, 6 hours. I was up in 2 hours and down in 1.5 hours (mostly driven by my suddenly overactive bladder).
Tips: If you're only going to hike in one direction, go bottom up instead of top down. Otherwise, the views get more and more anti-climatic. 

Remember: hike at your own risk as your safety is your responsibility.

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