Keep an eye on the forecast, and to the sky.
Don't climb to high places like Sentinel Dome if you hear thunder.
Rain will also be a hazard if you need good footing.
Stay inside or in a vehicle if the weather gets bad. At this elevation, there are a lot of things to consider for your safety.
For years, we have all been told of the importance of water. The general guideline has been to drink 2 litre of water each day. For a person who is not living an active lifestyle this may be enough, but if you are physically active, you need more water than that. That is especially true if you are hiking in Yosemite National Park due to the fact the average temperature is much higher than other areas and the landscape goes up and down.
Water is essential for everyone, especially if you are hiking. Water helps almost every part of the human body function properly. Our bodies are almost two-thirds water, and proper hydration is essential to keep your body functioning properly during the hike. Some of the things water does in the body are:
* The brain is 75% water; even moderate dehydration can cause headaches and dizziness;
* Water regulates body temperature, which is especially important here in the area where the temperatures can be so brutal;
* Water carries nutrients and oxygen to all cells in the body
* Blood is 92% water;
* Water protects and cushions vital organs;
·* Water converts food into energy (which is something you will need on a 3 to 4 hour hike…);
* Muscles are 75% water, and you will use many muscles on a trail as you climb above the desert floor.
Be careful at Yosemite. 12 people die on the average in the Park every year. The number of people climbing Half Dome has increased by at least 30% over the last decade, resulting in congestion and death. Most visitors are not prepared to scale the Dome, therefore making it much ore risky for seasoned climbers. A Japanese man lost his footing and fell to his death just a month agon on Half Dome.
It's true that being at a top of a thundering waterfall is exhilarating, but be careful and remember where you are. Each year, quite a few people slip at the brink of waterfalls, fall into the Merced River, Yosemite Creek, or something like that, and plunge a few hundred to a few thousand feet down to their deaths (Waterfall accidents are almost always fatal. If you fall down Upper Yosemite Fall, you'll have quite a bit of time to think about your dilemma before actually hitting anything). So be careful, and try to stay in places where there are railings. Also, the Silver Apron/Emerald Pool area above Vernal Fall is also potentially dangerous; stay out of the Merced River around there.
During peak snowmelt, some Yosemite waterfalls will have exceptionally high water and flood footbridges over streams. An easy example of this is the Wapama Falls footbridge, a wooden bridge across Falls Creek just beneath Wapama Falls. Since the spray and the water of the fall is propelled so powerfully, the bridge (early in the season) will be completely flooded, with water rushing over it. I crossed the bridge once and found it to be a somewhat harrowing experience; at times, the water was strong enough probably to wash me away (thankfully you can hang on to the handrails.) There was probably even more water before I came (late June) since regular peak snowmelt is early June.
The danger presented by cliffs is obvious. Be extremely careful and watch small children around cliff edges. Falls from 3000 feet will kill you. Do not swim in pools above waterfalls. This again may seem obvious but every year people die by being swept over waterfalls in Yosemite. Do not climb on boulders below waterfalls. Wet boulders are extremely slippery. Also always stay on established trails. As employees, we constantly heard stories of someone who wandered off trail and had rocks crumble beneath their feet causing them to fall, sometimes just several feet but more often several hundred feet.
I didn't realize I was afraid of height until I visited Yosemite. If you are into hiking like me, watch out for slippery spots. Given the dramatic elevation change in the Park, any slip can be life-threatening.
The attached photo was taken from the top of Yosemite Falls. The bird's-eye view was brilliant. Just don't fall off the edge or you will travel 2,425 feet in the air and return to the Valley in seconds.
While visiting the rivers and waterfalls, do NOT scramble about on top of the rocks. They are slippery, often unstable, and very treacherous. Far too many people have been injured, and sometimes killed, due to carelessness of this kind. Rather than become a candidate for a Darwin Award, just stay on the trails. Heed the signs!
This lovely little sign warns of the dangers at the top of Ilillouette Falls. We filled our water bottles here, but had to be extra careful. The wet part of the rock was like glass and if we had put our weight on it, down we would have went. It would be like a giant natural waterslide with no traction whatsover.
Yosemite is surprisingly touristy and surprisingly untouristy. As in, I was surprised by the number of people that go, and how crowded the valley floor is, but I was also surprised that, for a place with so many tourists, the park had nondescript trailmaps, few rangers around and a general sense of danger. When we got back to camp, we learned that someone died while climbing up half dome right before our friends got there. But then again, I find that people who are used to the outdoors have no idea how clueless to this stuff city kids are. City kids know about other things, but there's just no need to learn how to wear mud boots, how to put on snow chains or that poison oak even exists. Especially in paternalistic San Francisco, where the solution to suicide is a fence. I guess what I'm getting at is that there are few fences in Yosemite.
Spring and Summer rivers are overflowing from melted snow. Stay away from rivers during high waters. No rock hopping since rocks can get slippery.
Always be careful crossing natural bridges.
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