Yosemite Falls Pano

Upper, Middle and Lower Yosemite Falls

I took the photographs that comprise this pano at the lookout point above Columbia Rock. This point is roughly level with the base of the upper falls. Even though there was an inch thick steel railing that was imbedded in to solid granite, taking these photos allowed me to explore the outer limits of my comfort zone with heights. It was a 1000 feet straight down to the bottom of the lower falls from here.

Anne and I had hauled lunch up to this point. We had also hauled Dan’s toiletries, but that is another story. Within a minute of breaking out the food we were joined by a squirrel that expected to be fed and wasn’t ready to take no for an answer. We had to sit around the backpack that was holding the food, surrounding it to protect it from this squirrel.

On the way up, we encountered a work crew that was improving the trail. This trail predates the founding of the park. It was originally designed and built-in the 1870s by John Conway, who built all of the early tourist trails. It contains sixty switchbacks. We know this because the same sign that explained the trail’s history said so and Anne counted them on the way back down. I’ve told this story once already, but it is a great story and deserves retelling.

We had made it as far as Columbia Rock and then to the lower fall’s overlook, but that is all we had time for. The full trail runs three miles and climbs 2000 feet. We only did half that, but it was enough for me. Near our summit, a work crew was working on the trail. I wise cracked, “You’ve got one heck of a commute.” To which one of them responded, “Yeah, but when I go on vacation, I can spend forty hours in a cube.” To which, I could only say, “Touché!”

I was hoping to speak to the work crew again on the way back down the mountain, but they were on break and had moved well off the trail. I might have disturbed their break time, except that we had gotten off to such a rocky start. One question that I wanted to ask them was how did they get the granite stones that they were using to build the retaining walls that they had been working on. The stones had been quarried. You could see the drill holes in many of them. The average stone size was about a foot square. I’m guessing that means a weight of a couple of hundred pounds each. There were several dozen littering the trail, waiting to be set. There were also many thousands that had already been set over the years. I don’t think that they were quarried on site. I see no way that any vehicle could have made it to their work site. That leaves only helicopters and mules. I opt for the mules, but still it would take a lot of them.

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