Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Yosemite- Vernal and Nevada Falls

There I was, minding my own business when a buddy of mine told me he wanted to check out Yosemite on a long weekend. We planned for months and then went out and did it. Could I find adventures in the Yosemite National Park? You bet your sweet bippy I could! Come with us now on Pete's latest adventure in Yosemite!

Vernal Falls

There are several iconic trails originating from Yosemite's Valley. One is the 4 Mile Trail which winds its way up from the Valley to Glacier Point (a serious haul). Another is the Mist Trail which starts near Camp Curry and goes near, to the side of and ultimately on top of the falls themselves.

The Mist Trail is notorious because it gets you right up and personal with the waterfall but to get there you have to climb steps that were blasted into the mountainside and are often wet from the falling water.

First things first, you have to amble up a paved incline to the Vernal Falls Bridge.

This stretch of the trail seems to separate the men with good quads from the men with bad quads because we saw numerous people stop along the way, some turn back, all from the elevation gain.

My quads were "medium", I got up the incline ok while stopping a few times to think about funny TV shows (meaning I caught my breath and drank some water).

Eventually you do get to the bridge and your objective comes to the fore.

One last stop to fill up on water at a great water fountain and then its up the notorious stairs!

Now these stairs are wide enough and there enough margins where you shouldn't get vertigo but your inner traffic cop might come out as there was a lot of stop and go on the stairs.

The stairs take you through a rain-soaked garden with many opportunities to scramble off trail and get even closer to the waterfall.

Once you are done mucking around there, its time to climb approximately 300 more steps through a forest, up the side of a cliff guarded by a handrail until you top out by the Falls.

Of course, being on top of the Falls is one of the best parts about any falls-related hike and this one despite some obstacles provides some great views from on-high.

In all honesty, the Mist Trail was not my favorite. Too many people, the steps were too grueling despite the views. Also, I was beyond disappointed looking at people playing in the water past the signs warning them not to. An experience this certainly was but not a quiet, feel the pine scented air blow through your shirt type of experiences. It was time to amble on to the far superior (in my book) falls, the Nevada Falls!

Nevada Falls

Eager to move on to Nevada Falls, it quickly came into view on the trail and did not disappoint.

This hike is a bear, no question but with views of Liberty Cap

and the Falls spurring you on

you drag your way up seemingly endless switchbacks. Every once in awhile I would pause to look back...it was worth it.

After much effort you finally get to the trail junction, the blessed trail junction.

Then its a short amble to the falls, to the streams above the falls, the swimmers, the whole nine yards. But me, I like me some rocks and some vistas.

We went down the JMT in a big loop and other than being an easier trail as opposed to the Mist Trail and the Nevada Falls Trail it has one big "Money Shot" in store for you one that pretty much makes the whole trail worth it. One shot that says it all...

Of course, not all the vistas need to be of peaks and waterfalls, sometimes beauty comes in the jewelry in the trees.

The rest of the JMT back down to Happy Isles was one long switchback after another. Beat, let me tell you I was beat after this day! 7 miles but those switchbacks and the sun can do a number on  your legs. After, I did some shopping in the Valley for Yose schwag and then hopped back to my hotel for the night. The only regret, not getting to try out the pizza in Degan's Loft. Each year I go and am thwarted in my pizza-eating, it just smells more and more delicious, but not as good of a smell as pine trees and waterfalls!


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