21 Days to WSER: Five Days Around the Valley, Then Repeat

After five days of running loops around Yosemite Valley I had tread every trail leaving the valley floor, many of them on both the ascent and descent. Therefore I realised that day six would not be able to include a single step of trail that I had not tread before. It was my final running day in the park, planned to be a little shorter, and the following morning I would leave out of the park’s southern exit.

I decided that I would roughly reverse the run I had completed on my second day in the valley. I would start with the same ascent as the previous day, climbing up Four-Mile Trail to Glacier Point. Then I would take Panorama Trail (where I had spotted a coyote) down to Illouette Falls and would end up at the top of Nevada Falls. I would take Mist Trail back down to the valley floor, which I had not yet descended, but I knew would be packed with a lot of day walkers.

Just as I set out from my campsite to cross the valley floor to the start of the Four-Mile Trail I ran into a lady who was looking for the same trail but headed in the wrong direction. I slowed to a walk and started giving directions but instead decided that I would walk her to the trail. So we set out towards the Swinging Bridge to cross the river and chatted as we made our way. We were both planning to follow the exact same route, although her walk would take 7.5-8 hours while I was planning to finish my run in under 4.5 hours. We walked and talked for a short way up the Four-Mile Trail until I decided to push up the pace, so we bade each other farewell, and I picked to running pace where possible.

I enjoyed a great climb up to Glacier Point and then stood at the viewpoint for my third time that week to take in the view of the valley below. With the shorter run, and with water fountains at two points along my route I was only travelling with two 17-oz (500-ml) soft flasks rather than a hydration bladder. I refilled my bottles and took off for my final descent into the valley.

Yosemite NP - Me At Illouette Falls
Yosemite NP – Me At Illouette Falls

I dropped down towards Illouette Falls on the Panorama Trail, with no coyote in sight this time. I stopped at the falls for some photos, and then remembered that I would have one more ascent up from the falls to remember Yosemite by. I soon topped out once again and this time knew that it was all downhill through to the end.

Yosemite NP - Illouette Falls and Half Dome
Yosemite NP – Illouette Falls and Half Dome

I reached the top of Nevada Falls, crossed over the falls and then descended down the Mist Trail. I stopped for photos of both falls on my very slow descent.

Yosemite NP - Nevada Falls
Yosemite NP – Nevada Falls

The steps down the trail are uneven, uncomfortable, slippery and totally packed. I soon reached the bottom of the falls, refilled my water bottles once more, and then took off around the valley floor for my final return journey to camp.

Yosemite NP - Vernall Falls
Yosemite NP – Vernall Falls

I passed the spot where I had spotted a bobcat a couple of days earlier (no sighting this time) passed around Yosemite Village and soon ran up to the store at Yosemite Lodge for my final time. I purchased some drinks, headed for the final soaking of my legs in the Merced River, and then returned to camp.

I can safely say that I have run every trail around Yosemite Valley. There are many more miles of trails once you continue into the Wilderness areas but most of those would require overnight stays.

Hence I can comfortably state: Yosemite … check!

You can check out the details of my final run around Yosemite on MovesCount.com here.


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