Not long after first light, early on the trek to Half Dome, this sight suggests you're on no ordinary trail. The wind shifts, blanketing you with a spray of magical midst from the Merced. You suddenly feel chilled, wet, awake, alive. The spray casts its spell, & you perceive you're on a magical journey, to an enchanted land, of a giant scale. You feel small & insignificant. 

Awaiting you is Nevada Falls a ways up, the hot, dusty trails of Little Yosemite Valley, dreaded switchbacks, the steps of Quarter Dome, the final adrenaline-packed surge up the cables, and the exhilaration when you finally reach to the to at 8842-ft. (Your car is parked at 4000-ft) You've just hiked 8 miles, most of it up.

Took our first break here - about an hour into the hike. It was here that the herbal stimulants (legal stuff) finally kicked in. Hallelujah! Nothing like a chemical surge when you need it most (us 40-yrs-olds need help to keep up with the teenagers). Legs got stronger. Breathing less labored. Climbing more aggressive. The magic begins. Better living thru chemistry. =)

Some of the steepest climbing is near these falls. Since the trail follows the river, anytime you hear a waterfall, the climbing will be steep. Jack-and-the-beanstalk steep. Crude stone steps are cut into the rocks here - each seemingly taller than the last. We heard prison labor cut the steps, which take you to the top of the falls. The huffing & puffing never ends, the the pain fades into euphoria with endorphins. 

The sound of the falls gets louder until .. there she is. You stop in your tracks and whisper 'Whoa'. This is Vernal Falls. Never looks the same way twice. The wind blows the veil-like midst every which way, in slow motion. 

Can't sit for long. Still far to go. Lactic acid builds in the muscles while you rest, making beginning again all the more difficult. Take a sip of water & a bite of your CliffBar. Time to press on. 

Next -> Vernal Falls 2