Got an early start--out by 7:30...a record for us! It is refreshingly cool and shady. Steep, rocky cliffs and stars near Vernal Falls that continue miles and miles, it seems. Slow and careful on ankles with still a heavy pack pulling me down. An endless descent--but awe inspiring falls, misty and powerful. Most people heading up to do Half Dome--huffing up all 16 miles roundtrip. Ugh. It feels good to be heading down...
Rocky stars lead to more uphill traversing to the top of vernal, an appropriate ending as I started the trip there a week ago. The descent is steep with packs and it take focus, but the reward is the perfect rainbow waiting for us half way down. Gravity yanks hard at us as we descend past valleys and toward trailhead, and I feel like we are cowboys riding into town after months in the desert. Glad we are not the ones huffing it up to Nevada Falls on a 90+ day.
So shuttle back up to Tuolumne until 5pm, (not at 11:15 like the guys lost on the trail had told us!) so we hang out and meet Mathew--a concessions employee who lets me use his phone to call home. He is gracious and funny and downright kindhearted and it is an honor to sit with him.
We treat ourselves to pizza, salad and a drinks (boy have I missed fresh fruit and veggies!)
We huff it in the heat to the river to soak our sore and blistered feet...ah the water is heavenly.
Waiting near the Visitor's Center, I long for solitude again, now over burdened with big families and noise. Already missing the trail.
Being out of the craziness for a week makes me appreciate silence, reflection and pristine views of untouched wilderness, uninterrupted nature, unbound, unbroken.
Hiking the Sierra Loop Trail...50 miles. Over 100,000 steps. It was difficult. It was amazing. It was hot, exhausting and overwhelming. But invigorating, motivating and something sacred. So grateful to be with my dearest friend. Two ten-year-old girls still laughing and trouncing through the woods...just a few decades later. :)