We woke up early our first morning in Yosemite, with cold noses sticking out from underneath the layers of blankets in our tent cabin. We had our breakfast, packed our bags with lunch, snacks and coffee for the day, filled up our water bottles and headed out for our day hike. Luckily the sun soon warmed us up and gave us a gorgeous blue sky day.
As much as we would’ve have liked to do the Half Dome Hike, we had to give it a miss as we didn’t have the proper gear. And taking on the challenge of this hike is something you don’t do lightly, you can see why here. So instead we decided on The Mist Trail, which is actually part of Half Dome Hike anyway. It takes you past not one, but two fantastic waterfalls. The trail is, as the name entails, very misty due to the passing of Vernal Falls, especially in spring time. Even though this is considered a half day hike, it’s not to be sniffed at, it’s an 11km round trip to the top of Nevada Falls, with an elevation gain of 1200m. So you do need to be quite fit if you want to make it to the top, the trail is very steep at times, sometimes quite uneven surfaces, has switch backs and there are quite a few steps to be climbed up. After you reach the top, you will of course need to make your way down again, which is almost tougher, especially on your knees. But the view at the top will take your breath away, so it’s well worth your effort.
At the start of the trail, after having read the warning signs of bears and mountain lions, we followed a paved road, amongst granite cliffs, old forest and you can hear and see the Merced river to your right. After about 45 min we reached The Footbridge, which gives you a great view of Vernal Falls. Here you can fill up on your water supplies and trust me when I say, you will need it if you are intending to hike to the top of Nevada Falls. This is where the tarmac ends and the real trail begins and so does the climbing.
We carefully climbed up the wet and slippery, carved stone steps to get towards the bottom of Vernal Falls, the closer we got, the mistier and wetter we got. My waterproof jacket and shoes definitely came in handy. Because of the mist and the sunshine we saw many rainbows and the surroundings were so lush and green. As we reached the top of Vernal Falls we stopped for a little fika break, rest for a bit and to enjoy the fantastic views. We could hear the rumble and roar of the Merced River, crashing down into Vernal Falls. We also spotted a gorgeous bright blue and grey steller’s jay, along with some cheeky squirrels, all hoping that we’d drop some of our food on the ground for them to fight over.
We continued our hike up the trail, admiring the ravishing Merced River as it gushed past us at high speed. There was a lot less people along the trail at this point, as most people stop at the bottom of Vernal Falls. We hiked through deep forested areas and then climbed up uneven paths next to the River with Nevada Falls ahead of us. The further we got the tougher it got, the end gave us a bit of a challenge with the steep stone walled switch backs, but we finally made it. If the view from the top of Vernal Falls was fantastic, the view from top of Nevada Falls was magnificent!
It felt awesome to have got to the top, tiered and with achy legs, we sat down to have our lunch. As I sat there looking out over the valley, surrounded by the majesty of Yosemite, I felt very, very small and thought that we has humans really are lucky to be here and to borrow the beauty that nature has to offer us.
The guide books say the hike takes about 5 hours, I would say start early and take your time, time for photo’s, time for snack breaks, time to just soak up the atmosphere and admire the views, make a day of it.