One of the best things about living so close to Yosemite is that you can make quick trips up for the day after your class in the mornings. Seriously, I consider myself pretty lucky!
And it's even better to have made friends with some of the people who live in the valley! It makes my time in Yosemite even more enjoyable!
If you have ever been to Yosemite, you know that it is incredibly gorgeous. Like, jaw dropping gorgeous. If you have ever been to Yosemite in the summer, you know that is PACKED. And I mean, packed. Packed tighter than your "overpacked suitcase you took on your last vacation" packed. Long story short, just over 4 million people visit Yosemite every year (and mainly in the summer months, too). Yosemite Valley, although seemingly ginormous, actually takes up only 2% of the entire park of Yosemite National Park. And unfortunately, that's where all of the people visit. Imagine, thousands of people a day crammed into this small (but beautiful) section of the park. It's crazy. . .
And on top of that, most people just stop and look at the touristy views and sights while on the paved Valley Loop Trail that covers the Valley Floor. Rarely do the majority of Yosemite's Visitors venture off on a trail leading into the backcountry or scaling the granite walls that tower above which is sad. Seriously, going into the wilderness in Yosemite is one of the most incredible things I have ever experienced; so much more fun that walking around the valley floor (even though that's still pretty fun).
To avoid the crowds, I try to get places that I know most people won't go; so when my friends Trev and Andrew told me about this place called "Middle Earth", I was intrigued. At first thought, I imagined Middle Earth from the Lord of the Rings, but was told it was even better. So we went. . .
If you didn't know, Yosemite Falls is actually made up of four different cascades; there is Upper Yosemite Falls and Lower Yosemite Falls obviously, but there is also two middle falls commonly known as the "Inner Gorge". Middle Earth is the nickname for the place situated at Inner Gorge on Yosemite Falls. This location sits at the pool of water that leads to the cascading fall of Lower Yosemite Falls.
To find the trail to Middle Earth requires really knowing where you are going as this trail is not marked on any map or even advertised as a hike in the valley to visitors; in fact, the majority of people who know this hike are actually locals. Luckily, Trev knew the trail and led the way. For the sake of keeping this a sacred place for the locals, I will not reveal how to find the trail nor how to get up to Middle Earth on this blog, but I might be able to take you up (if I can remember how to find the trail myself, haha!).
The first part of our ascent up to Middle Earth was scrabbling over boulders before reaching a somewhat level, but upward trail that follows along a ledge leading back to Yosemite Falls. Once at Middle Earth, it is a big opening on a giant slab of granite beside the Inner Gorge of Yosemite Falls.
As a disclaimer, you must use great (GREAT) caution when in this area; especially if it is the Spring season where the Falls are even more powerful due to snowmelt from the high-country. The granite is very slick when dry and slippery when wet due to the mist and water from the falls and it could be very easy to slip and fall into the Inner Gorge. When hiking in areas with swift-water, such as Middle Earth, stay on the trail and away from the water. Many visitors slip on slick rock every year and a few are even swept away, leading to very serious injuries or death. And as a side note, one of the biggest tips in Yosemite is this: Even water that looks calm can have powerful - often deadly - currents. So make sure to use great caution!
Nonetheless, we had no issues at Middle Earth and it was absolutely stunning to stand atop the Lower Yosemite Falls and to feel the thunderous rumble beneath our feet as the powerful falls move. To stand in the midst of something so naturally powerful, allowing the mist to soak our skin and hair is an experience I wish everyone could have.
Here are some photos of Middle Earth below:
After spending time up in Middle Earth, we headed back down towards the valley to grab some beers and enjoy the sunset before having some Pizza. I am so thankful for Trev and Andrew and their friendship! We had such rad conversations that night and it will always go down in my books as one of my favorite days in Yosemite!
While everyone else in the valley was swarming around to take photos of the "Firefalls" which just happened to be that same week, we went with our beers to the John Muir Tree in Leidig Meadow. There we also went over to what Trevor calls the Yosemite "Valley View Portal" which is that hallowed tree stump that resembles something seeming like a teleportation portal.
Anyway, thanks for reading along and I hope this stuff inspires you to venture further off the paved pathways in the valley of Yosemite and into the lesser known areas! It's totally worth it, you gotta do it!