Sunday, May 17, 2015

Yosemite: Day 3

Wednesday, May 13

For our last day in the park we decided to hike the Mist Trail to Vernal and Nevada Falls. Because we had to change sites that morning we got off to a late start. The site wasn’t vacated until almost 11:30 but we had our backpacks ready to go so as soon as we moved over and got settled in we made our way to the trail. The beauty of staying in Yosemite Valley is that you can walk to most of the trailheads, since parking near them is at a real premium. Of course this can also add another mile or two to the hike.

 The paved trail starts off easy enough along this peaceful part of the Merced River.


It then begins a very steep climb where the river becomes less friendly and Vernal Fall comes into view.





I read that this is one of the most popular trails in Yosemite and unfortunately that seemed to be the case. It is also the most deadly trail in the park due to people slipping off rocks and falling into the river where they drown. Part of the reason it’s so heavily used is that this is also the first several miles of one of the trails to Half Dome.

The crowds thinned out quite a bit as the trail makes an even steeper climb up over 600 granite stairs to the top of Vernal Fall.



We soon understood why it was named the Mist Trail.


That is me in the green rain jacket slowly working my way up.


The steps were very wet along here so it was nice to have the railing.


This is the very steep last section of steps. Our knees were already bothering us on the up so we knew coming down would be painful but we persevered.




As did a lot of other people.




From here we had to decide if we would continue on to Nevada Fall. We had already climbed a thousand feet, and the trail climbed another thousand over the next 1.3 miles. After resting a bit we decided to push on and see how we felt.

Having seen no wildlife Jim enjoyed trying to catch this guy eating flowers.


We could see a foot bridge over the river and decided to at least go that much farther.



This part of the trail was a gentle climb and very scenic so we were happy we kept going.


A short distance past the bridge we saw a group of people stopped looking down into a meadow. They said there were three bears but all we saw was a quick glimpse of the backside of one of them running off into the woods so we continued on. Each time we got a look at Nevada Fall we stopped and debated on whether to continue. We knew the last uphill section was going to be steep, and I kept thinking we should have hung around to try and get a look at the bears.


Having already come nearly three and a half miles we finally decided to turn around. No top of Nevada Fall for us this time.


Just before we reached the bear sighting area some hikers coming up told us about a mother bear and her two cubs just down the trail. Apparently after we left they came back out into the meadow. It’s hard to see but here is a cub on the left and the mother to the right of the tree in the center.


We walked down the slope a short distance to get a better look, and luckily we have a good zoom on the Pansonic FZ200 camera. In all of our years and miles of hiking this was our first bear sighting. She is both tagged and collared, which the park does to monitor the behavior of some of them. Get a look at those claws!



The cubs were both busy eating berries.



Then the lighter colored one decided to pay mom a visit and lick her mouth. This went on for a very long time until she finally got tired of it and walked away.




They were still hanging around when we finally left. This was definitely the highlight of our visit to Yosemite.

The trek back down the stairs was not easy, and four days later our knees are still bothering us but it was so worth it. Damn this getting old!



We were tired and hungry after our five hours on the trail, so I made a quick batch of guacamole to accompany some chips and salsa, and we shared our last 22 ounce bottle of San Diego beer, Alesmith’s Wee Heavy Scotch Ale. Doesn’t get much better than that!


  1. Love the bear shots!!! NIce job… they look so harmless when they're playing :))
    Box Canyon

  2. What a gorgeous hike and fantastic bear pictures. I'd say that's quite a send off from Yosemite. The valley may be crowded but boy what wonderful posts you done since you've been there. I would give anything to have been along. Wish I'd gotten on the road at least 10 or 15 years ago so I'd have time and knees to do all the things I want. Hope yours are feeling better.

  3. Wow, what a hike! I've been to Yosemite lots of times as a kid and heard the bears in the night, but never saw one. You got some great photos! Highlight, indeed!

    I remember that misty trail when we hiked up to the top of the falls. I don't remember much about it except getting wet as we were going up. I was a teenager then and was NOT happy that I was getting all wet. Heaven forbid, right? :)

  4. Oh wow. What a privilege to have observed the bear family relatively up close and personal. Amazing.

  5. Oh how I remember that hike. My legs are tired just watching you climb those steps.

    What awesome photos of the bears. I neat to see the cubs and mom bounding.

  6. My knees ached just reading about the steps! Steps are such a killer and coming down is so much harder. Great job you two:) I think the Nevada Fall was beautiful from the distance:) I think we probably would have done the same turn around. Good thing you stopped when you did. Those bears are so cool. I can't get over how light the one cub is. How special to see the cub interacting with mom that way. Those claws need a manicure badly!! Thanks for intro to this hike.

  7. It is such a thrill to see bears. We have seen several over the years. Glad you finally had a chance.

  8. My hat is off to you for going as far as you did. Definitely earned that SD beer. But the most exciting would be to see the bears.

  9. What a special great! I also, have only seen a bear a couple of times hiking, from a distance. Glad to keep it that way. Your pictures were so cute! Nice hike. There's always tomorrow. Or next time to finish it.

  10. Thanks for going the distance for those of us who can't! Great photos!!

  11. YAY BEARS! Those are some amazing photos of the waterfalls and creeks. Gorgeous! I can see why your knees were not happy.

  12. You guys did great!! It's a tough climb that not many people make, but SO worth the views once you get there!! It's just as spectacular getting to the top of Nevada Falls with the trail not quite as WET!! Keep an eye out for bobcats ... they've been seen quite often this year.

  13. Empathizing with your knees. 😕
    Glad you don't let that stop you. 😊

  14. Definitely a steep hike - my knees hurt just reading about it! Still, those bear photos are amazing and you have to be so happy with your timing on the way back - much better than getting to the top :-))))

  15. I just read your three posts in order. Took me back. One year I managed to get a site for a couple days. Staying in the park was one of the highlights of my RVing career. I loved biking around and love the buses which make the traffic light. That was really great that you saw the bears. I guess they're going to catch those cubs and tag them. It's a shame they put collars on them. It seems that could be a hazard for the bear.

  16. We did this hike as well, along with hordes of other people. I must admit it was a bit nerve-wracking to be hiking on a slippery trail with so many others jostling to get by.