Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Mist and John Muir Loop Trail to Vernal and Nevada Falls

Slept awesome last night! It got down to 40 degrees outside and 54 degrees in the tent cabin, despite blasting the heater. I woke up cold at 5:30 a.m., added a third wool blanket, and slept another two hours.

It's just a short walk to the coffee shop, but at 7:30 a.m., it seemed everyone in camp was there. I learned it's better to wait till the general store opens at 8:00 and get coffee there. That is, unless you require coffee that requires a barista. Our coffee merely requires coffee, plus as little interaction with people as possible until after the coffee has been consumed. We drank coffee and ate pizza, packed snacks and lots of water, and headed out for a hike. The weather is beautiful today, sunny and a high of about 70 - Great for hiking!

Today we hiked to Vernal and Nevada Falls. At 10:30 we set out from the Happy Isles trailhead parking lot toward the Mist Trail, the most popular trail in Yosemite. This trail provides great views of Yosemite's mountains, domes, spires, and of course Vernal and Nevada Falls.

The Mist Trail starts as a wide paved path with a not-so-steep rise to a footbridge over the Merced River, then changes abruptly to a grueling climb up more than 600 granite steps to the top of Vernal Fall. The trail gets its name from the wind-blown mist coming from the 317-foot-high fall that soaks hikers as they climb the stairs. I had a poncho for this piece of the hike, but Tom just got wet.

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Mist Trail

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Jana at Vernal Fall

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Vernal Fall

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Rainbow

From Vernal Fall, we continued up the Mist Trail toward 594-foot-high Nevada Fall. It's pretty strenuous to get to the top, but it's totally worth it. Nevada Fall is the most breathtaking waterfall I have ever seen! It's a dizzying view from the top, looking down the rushing whitewater. At Nevada Fall we crossed a footbridge and returned via a portion of the John Muir Trail.

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Nevada Fall

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The top of Nevada Fall

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Dizzying vantage!

Descending the John Muir rather than returning via the Mist Trail was a good choice because we avoided most of the crowd and all of the 600 steep stone steps. Tom has a bum knee, and the wet stairs going down was a bad option. Heck, if we'd gone back that way, I might have developed a bum knee too. Or maybe a busted head. The steps are much easier going up, I think. There were great views on the descent of Nevada Fall with Liberty Cap in the background.

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Liberty Cap and Nevada Fall

Incidentally, we added 1.2 miles to our hike today by driving instead of taking the shuttle to the trailhead. An additional .6 mile was nothing in the morning, but at the end of the day, that .6 mile sure seemed like a long way! All told, we hiked 8 miles, with an elevation change of 1,900 feet.

For an aperitif this evening, we cut up a pint of extremely delicious strawberries and our ripest cherries, covered them with tequila, and added orange juice. The camp raccoons wanted to share, but we did not! For our main course, we dined on salami-and-cheese sandwiches, with a side of Doritos. Fine dining in the great outdoors!

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Tom prepares refreshments

Continue to May 16, 2012

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