In early April I made the trip to Yosemite Valley to run the 8.2-mile round trip and punishing 3,982-foot climb up to Yosemite Point.
Yosemite National Park, for a trail runner, is the closest thing to Disneyland. With so many trail choices and stunning views, choosing which path to run is more challenging than the run itself.
Well, if you’re in search of a fitness test, plenty of waterfall views, and a stunning view of half dome, then the run up to Yosemite Point may be suited for you. The price of admission though, is serious lactic acid burn in the glutes and quads, dodging through tourists, and a sunburn if you aren’t careful.
The Strenuous Start
To beat the crowd I arrived at the trailhead at 6 a.m. and set off!
During the early morning, the temperature hovered around 35 degrees Fahrenheit with a light mist. Luckily, I packed optimal gear for my four-hour adventure run where conditions would fluctuate from jacket-necessitating to tank-top-optional temperatures.
The trail tested my fitness right from the start with a series of short but relatively steep switchbacks. The terrain is rocky and fairly technical, and without proper trail shoes with some sort of rock plate, my feet would have suffered. Fortunately, the ProFeel Film and Energy Cell cushioning in my Salomon Sense Pro 2’s provided ample protection.
Throughout the climb I came across places where creeks crossed the trail. Having to run across these I wish that I had packed a shoe with some sort water resistant shield. Luckily, my Drymax Speed Goat Socks did a great job of drying quickly as I continued my ascent.
Time To Enjoy The First View, Columbia Rock.
After 1,000 feet of climbing, I arrived at Columbia Rock, a great place to take a breather, admire the view, and munch on a quick snack. At this point, my body was warm and I had no need for my running tights or base layer top. Conveniently, they both fit into my Salomon Skin Pro 10 Set Pack along with my lunch and a couple Clif bars.
Look a Waterfall!
After moving on from Columbia Rock I climbed a few more switchbacks. A mile later the trail began to flatten out to greet me with a view that was well worth the climb. Rounding the bend above Lower Yosemite Falls, the trail put me at eye level with Upper Yosemite Falls.
Further along, the trail took me close enough to the Upper Falls that the trail was wet from the mist and spray. My packable Nike Impossibly Light Jacket came in handy, and I was able to quickly throw it on as I began my ascent up another set of steep switchbacks. This point is the most challenging part of the run as the turning and climbing feel never-ending.
Adding to the difficulty is the lack of shade, and at this time of the day, the sun was beaming directly onto the trail. Nonetheless, my running cap and running sunscreen offered enough UV relief to get me through the challenge.
Dashing Through The Snow.
Close to the top of the switchbacks I found myself running through snow, which was a first-time experience. After 30 minutes of climbing, I got to a bridge that took me across Yosemite Creek to the start of the final hill that leads to Yosemite Point.
With a little over a half mile to go, it was easy to think the rest of the way would be a breeze, and it would have been if it weren’t for the two to three inches of snow that covered the path. To continue moving ahead I slowed to a walk and stumbled through the snow following the footprints of hikers that I hoped had gone the right way.
Each step was unpredictable, sometimes the snow was hard-packed enough for a normal step, other times my foot would plunge 2 to 3 inches into the snow. However, after 30 minutes of climbing, I was at the top of the hill. I looked to the right and ahead was a flat, clear path through the trees.
The Rewarding View.
As I moved ahead I caught a glimpse of a railing through the trees and soon after a view of Half Dome. Once at the railing, the spectacular view of Half Dome and the valley floor was evidence enough that I had reached Yosemite Point.
At last, victory.
There are few things in life as rewarding as being at the top of a cliff and looking down 3,983 feet at your starting point. The view at the top was well worth it and, to me, more rewarding than any round on Space Mountain.
Alan has been in the game for 11 years, running cross country from high school through his years at Chico State. Now as our Footwear Marketing Coordinator, he puts his expertise into practice, specializing in knowledge of daily trainers and performance running shoes.