Turkey adventure -- Day 4

(Show distances in kilometers / miles)

I forgot to mention in the last post that I started developing some cold. I have a sore throat and I'm coughing. I guess all the running in the not-too-warm weather is finally getting to me. In any case, I sleep pretty badly this night. And I have to get up early because it's the last day and having done both the north and south parts of the Yosemite valley I decide I'm done with it. I mean, sure, there are plenty more trails, but I think I saw most of what I wanted. Well, maybe except for Sentinel and El Capitan, but I was close to both and doing the same trails again just to reach them doesn't seem like a great idea. Instead I decide to head to the Head Hetchy Reservoir, which is supposedly fairly different than the Yosemite Valley. It's a 1.5h drive so I need to get moving in the morning.

Hetch Hetchy Reservoir (Workout details)

The drive turns out to be interesting with plenty of twists and turns but eventually I reach the park. There are two interesting trails: one along the reservoir itself passing next to three falls and the other one leading to the Smith Peak (2,162m7,093 feet). Luckily for me both are around 20km12 miles in length, so if I can do both I should be set for the day.

I start with the Reservoir trail, but it's more because of the fact that I missed the point where the other trail starts than anything else. The trail starts on the O'Shaughnessy Dam, which offers a spectacular view of the reservoir.

As it turns out the trail is anything but flat and it goes up and down and is mostly rocky. What slows me down even more is that I cannot resist to stop every 5 minutes to take a photo; the views are splendid and indeed very different than in the valley, so I guess it was a good call to come here.

I pass next to Tueeulala Falls and then the Wapama Falls. I still have a long way to go to reach the last waterfall: Rancheria Falls. I heard it's a popular destination, so I thought it would be the most beautiful of the three, but actually I'm least impressed. Instead, I realize that I'm behind the schedule. The park closes at 5pm and if I am to finish both trails on time I need to get moving.

I try to move faster on the way back - no more photos - and although I manage it's a constant race against the clock. I finally come back to the dam, quick drink, back to the car, short drive and time for the second hike.

Smith Peak (Workout details)

The climb to the top of the Smith Peak is very laborious. I wish I had started with it. Also, to be honest, there isn't all that much to see on the way. What pushes me forward is the promise that there are spectacular view from its top. But I slowly start to realize that if I want to come back before 5pm then it looks less and less likely that I'll make it to the top (and back).

I'm quite dispirited and am thinking of turning back, when I reach the Smith Meadow (bottom-left photo of this post). It's quite beautiful and, what's important, it features a very dear sign saying that it's only a mile to the top. I've made it that far, I cannot turn around now, can I? Well, frankly it's tempting, but I don't and I continue the ascent.

One thing that really worries me is that I'm seriously running out of time, so on the way down I'll have to go super fast. I'm not sure whether that's possible, especially that my right shin is giving me a lot of trouble and, obviously, that's not going to get any better on the way down.

Finally, after plodding through some snow and finishing with a very steep incline, I reach the top. To be honest the view is slightly disappointing. I was hoping to be able to see the Reservoir, which indeed would have to be beautiful, but I don't. Maybe there's a side of the peak granting this view but I really have no time to explore and start my descent.

At the beginning, with snow, rocks and steep gradient it's as slow as my ascent. I start to worry that I'll miss the closing hour by a large margin. Probably I'd still be able to find the rangers and have them open the gate for me, but I really hate this kind of embarrassment and would rather avoid it. As soon as I reach a more manageable incline I speed up. Funny how I was feeling totally exhausted on the way up but now, racing the clock, I'm catching a second wind. The shin is troubling me, but I ignore the pain.

I make it to the car almost on time. I drive and reach the gate less than 10 minutes past 5pm; the ranger is waiting there for me to close it.

I made it. I run 100 miles over 4 days, just as I planned. I made it.

There's still a long drive home ahead of me (4h) and that turns out to be quite challenging. I'm very tired and if the road was curvy before, now it is twisting and turning like crazy. And it's dark. But eventually I hit a proper highway and it gets easier. I stop at some fast food for dinner, as I have no time for more decent food. I started this trip with a fast food and I finished it with one; how appropriate...

But I made it. I did 100 miles. The feeling of satisfaction spreads over me. This was a truly awesome holiday weekend.

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