I’ve probably been to Yosemite about ten times, but before this past weekend I’d never hiked the Four Mile Trail. The trail runs from the valley all the way up to Glacier Point (an elevation change of about 3,200 feet), but the uppermost part was still covered in snow and closed off.
Even some of the open parts of the trail were snowed over, which made things interesting. I wouldn’t call myself clumsy, but you're never going to hear the term "cat-like" used to describe my sense of balance. I’m perfectly capable of wiping out on a straight, level trail. So when you add ice, a steep incline, and an awkwardly-arranged pack full of photography gear, there’s a decent chance I’ll be taking a spill at some point. And sure enough, on the way back down I bit it good. Normally a little fall is no big deal, but, when you have your Canon 5DM2 in your hands and your 1DM3 around your neck, it gets a little more complicated.
I slipped on a snowdrift and fell forward onto some rocks, which triggered the normal instinct to reach out and catch myself. But my head had to override my instincts and order my hands to protect the 5DM2 at all costs. So it played out like this: first my knees cracked into the ground, then I basically face-planted into the snow and rocks, which caused my tripod to launch itself out of my backpack and smack me in the back of the head. But when the dust settled the 5DM2 was resting safely off the ground, none the worse for wear. Good thing there weren’t any witnesses for this one – it was not pretty.
Anyway, the views from Four Mile Trail are incredible. Back towards the west you see the landscape in this photo (sometimes called the “Reverse Tunnel View” because it’s the opposite of the famous scene just outside the Wawona tunnel), to the north you see a great full-on view of Yosemite Falls, and to the east you see Half Dome (assuming it’s not clouded over like it was during my hike). Really an awesome trail.