Climbing up the Mountain…Literally

The Challenge

So, I put a challenge before myself: to hike to the top of the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail.  According to the official description on the National Parks website, it is a 3.6 mile trip up, with 2,700 feet in elevation gain.  You are told to plan on 6-8 hours of hiking time, with the grade of the trail listed as “strenuous”.  Being the middle of winter, it was also going to be cold, icy, and AWESOME.  I was eager to get started at noon.

I brought a backpack filled with bottled water, triscuits, spray-can cheese, and some beef jerky.  The essentials, of course.  I took my time on the first few switchbacks, resting every 5 minute or so.  I figured that if I caught my breath, I could keep a good rhythm of work, rest, work, rest, etc.  It was very manageable and I made it to the halfway point.  Here was the view:  httpv://

Now, It had been about 2 hours, and I had enjoyed a lot of great view of the Yosemite Valley on the way.  But honestly, it hadn’t been much of a challenge.  I was barely hungry, thirsty, or tired.  I was staring at an amazing waterfall and rainbow, and I wanted to see the source of what created it.  After taking that video, I decided to eat the rest of my rations, chug some water, and just push it out the rest of way up the steepest part of the trail.  On the way up, I saw about 20 people at different levels of hiking and resting.  After the halfway point, I only saw 3 more people.  For a lot of people, the halfway point of the trail was the finish line.  I mean, that’s a pretty incredible view of the falls right there.  But for me, I had not been challenged enough yet, so I decided to go the rest of the way without stopping for more than 10 seconds at a time.

Holy crap, did this hike kick my butt!  I had to trick my mind on every turn.  I would look up a rock staircase and see all of the steep steps in front of me, and feel like stopping.  But, I would convince myself to keep on going until the next turn, and then take a rest.  When I got to the turn, I told myself to just keep going and rest on the next turn.  I did this for every turn for the next 2 hours, and made it to the top.

The reward


I felt so good that I had made it to the top.  I felt a huge sense of accomplishment.  The view from the top wasn’t breathtaking, but I had a real sense of how far I had come from the valley floor.  I had a ton of memories of all of the different turns and steps up the trail.  The journey meant so much more to me than the destination, when it was all said and done.  But, I wouldn’t have continued on the journey if I didn’t have something to reach at the end of the journey.

Insert metaphoric language here.  During the trip, I was relating every step to a specific issue that I was dealing with.  It really made me examine how much ground I covered in a certain amount of time.  I was making progress.  I was moving forward.  I still am.  Do you have a way of measuring your progress on your journey?