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!