2013 Ford Focus ST: Yosemite National Park, Part Two
May 30, 2013
On day two of my trip to Yosemite National Park, our long-term 2013 Ford Focus ST had two simple tasks: get us to the trailhead and get us home. The trail would take us to Upper Yosemite Falls, the fifth tallest waterfall in the world. With all our extra baggage and food unloaded, the Ford's hatch had more than enough room for our hiking gear.
The rain had cleared in the valley, but May is high-flow season for waterfalls in Yosemite so there was still plenty of water. Lower Yosemite Falls is visible via a flat, paved pathway so we stopped there first.
Trailhead information pegs round-trip hiking time for the Upper Yosemite Falls trail at 6-8 hours. It's around 8 miles, with a 2,600-foot elevation gain. As the hiking guides say, "It's like taking the stairs to the top of the Empire state building, twice."
We stopped several times to rest, once near the middle of the falls for a view that makes you forget about rush hour traffic, city streets and cars altogether. Even as a certifiable car nut, I recommend getting off the paved roads from time to time. Cars should provide us with opportunities like this, not replace them.
From the top of the waterfall, I could see the parked Focus ST (yellow paint made it easy) and next was the descent down.
The hike back was pretty bad on the knees, and I was beginning to consider the stiff clutch pedal in the Focus ST. Gear changes are quick, and the travel on the clutch pedal isn't very long. When swift shifting on back roads, it's great, but at that point I was yearning for comfort. The sun set as we returned to the valley floor and that's right when wildlife starts to come out. Luckily, what creatures we did come across were vegetarians.
Note: About 15 years ago I went to Yosemite with my family and my stepbrother left an empty cooler, covered by a blanket, in his Toyota MR2 overnight. A bear broke the driver-side window, crawled through the sports car, rummaged around a bit, then exited by breaking the passenger window. My stepbrother had to drive 400 miles back to Los Angeles, in freezing temperatures, with plastic wrap for windows. Since this was not a story I wanted to tell about the Focus ST, I made sure to empty the car completely. It was right where I left it, unharmed.
Before leaving the valley we stopped for a photo op at the world-famous Tunnel Entrance to the park.
Since the drive back to our house was only a few miles, the shifting was bearable. When a bend or hill came into view, I typically didn't bother downshifting. I had plenty of power going uphill, even in 4th gear around 30-35 mph. That's probably one of the best characteristics of this small turbocharged hatchback. Tomorrow's plan? More walking.
Travis Langness, Associate Editor @ 11,224 miles