Slept like a rock last night. Stopped writing about midnight and went to sleep. Woke up what seemed like a little after sunrise and looked at my watch. Lo, and behold, it finally died at about 4:40. Now, this isn't really surprising, and it wasn't that it froze - the battery's been on it's last legs for a couple of weeks. Sadly, the battery didn't last even half as long as the original that was in there before this one. Oh well. Anyway, I don't think I even moved over night - my little cap had moved slightly, but other than that, I don't think I moved.
We did our quickie breakfast again; hot chocolate and 2 hard boiled eggs for me. Headed out for our hike at 10 sharp. Wow, imagine that.
We walked to the trailhead straight from camp, which is pretty far to the east side of the Valley already. No point in waiting for the shuttle bus. When we got there, we discovered that the trail starts on the other side of the river from where it used to. In '97 there was a rock fall into the Happy Isles area. If I remember correctly, it killed a few people; because of the huge amount of newly fallen rock, I think they built a new trail on the other side of the river. Could be wrong; maybe this is the way it was then too and we just don't remember correctly.
The hike didn't seem as hard as we remember it being in '96. Although I don't remember being truly drenched, as Dan and John seem to, we did get wet. I'm glad I didn't listen to them beyond having ziplocs for some of the things I didn't want to get wet (like the camera and radios); if I'd put shorts on instead of my jeans, I think I'd actually have been a little chilly for a pretty good portion of the hike. John frowns on jeans, or any cotton really, while hiking. I've never had a problem, even when it gets wet.
Parts of the trail were hard for me than for others - the curse of the large feet & boots big enough to fit them. There are a number of places where the trail consists of what to me seem to be small steps or stones, and I tended to catch the backs of my boots on them at times. Had to be very careful to avoid falling forward. I admit I'd had a problem with my right ankle at one point, but I really wasn't having trouble with an injury on this trail. I appreciated some of the guys making sure not to get too far ahead of me, though; it's nicer to hike with them. Chris had more trouble on this trail than he had on Dewey point; I think we all did, actually, but he was taking it at a good and measured pace. Blamed me for letting him get into such bad shape. I could say the same to him, I suppose, but he is the one who moved off to Reno. He's also the one who got me started trying to average my 10k steps a day and using the pedometer. Not that I've been getting to that number on a regular basis. He and Dan and I all agreed that we would make a concerted effort to be in better shape by next time.
The hike was great. Hung out at the top for a while. Had lunch, more MREs for everyone else, including Dave, who came up with 2 vegetarian entrees, and more veggies, hard boiled eggs, and salame for me. Took a picture of the sign that says, and I quote, "If you go over the falls, you will die." I'm convinced that in '96 there was a sign in essentially the same place that elaborated further ("... and your family will be billed for the recovery expenses"), but I didn't take a picture then. One of us talked to a guy up there who was here last year (I think) when someone decided to cool his feet in the river. Apparently, one moment he was standing there ankle deep in the water, and 30 seconds later he was gone. Gone, gone. Over the falls. Someone called for help on a cell phone, but of course there was no rush. The rangers landed a chopper at the top of the falls, but... well... he was dead, no need to hurry. I'm vaguely surprised they bothered to start the thing up. And still we saw two or three people jump down on the other side of the falls from us; down a short, maybe 4 foot high ledge, but heading toward the water. Darwin will take control of them eventually. One actually went down to his hands and knees; I think he only barely checked his fall.
Daniel hit on some woman up there. Went back to get her number... right when her parents showed up. Ugh. She was from LA, but gave him some story about not knowing if she'd be there any time soon when he asked for her number. But then he bumped into another woman on the way back down... turns out they were in a play together in college. Fourteen years ago! They had a nice chat, and Daniel's planning to invite her to a party he and his cousin are throwing in the City in July. She lives in the City, but is from LA... maybe she's sincere and will show up. She certainly seemed to me to be excited to see him. She was here with her class (middle school), so Daniel refrained, at Dan's urging, from inviting her to have pizza with us.
When we got back to the bottom, we had that pizza and daquiris. Yum. I'm tired. And sore. And very content. Good night.