08 July 2012

Yosemite: Nevada and Vernal Falls

Yosemite National Park

This is a multi-day trip. If you haven't read it, you might want to start at the beginning.

Locate the trailhead.

DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3 | DAY 4 | DAY 5 | DAY 6

For the last day, most of the group left wanted to leave early. I didn't see any need to, but somehow managed to be packed up and ready to head out even sooner than I'd been for the Half Dome excursion. We hadn't had any more bear incidents in the night. We headed out from camp and Sunrise and Muir for the second and last time and started the long downhill. I had both pairs of socks on for that extra cushion through the granite stairways to come.

yellow flower on a thin stalk
One of the denizens of the meadow by camp.

cedar trees with fire dammage and a tunnel
A few cedar trees that have had a hard time of it in area fires.

trees on a dome
Some perfect trees making their home in the granite layers of a dome.

Getting down to Little Yosemite, I had a look around, washed up at the river and finally remembered some sun screen. The trail here is wide and sandy and rather annoying to try to walk along. Between Muir hikers and Half Dome and Clouds Rest day hikers and backpackers coming in from all directions, it may see a few hundred pairs of feet a day. It is a lot of traffic and the trail suffers from it. I continued on down, taking the route to Nevada Fall when the trail forked.

infinite granite
There's always more granite.

sheer wall of ganite
Leaving the Mist Trail to descend in switch backs to the bottom of Nevada Fall while heading to the top of the fall.

water flowing out over the cliff at Nevada Fall
The turbulent water of the Merced river as it launches itself out over the edge.

After looking out over the water from the bridge, I walked back and down to the viewing platform at the top of the waterfall. There I found a few members of my group having lunch. I stayed a short while and then crossed the bridge again to continue down the Muir trail which is a longer way down but stays high for a bit giving more extensive views, so I like it better. It also has a constant shower as some of the overhanging rock is always wet.

all of Nevada Fall as seen from the viewing station very near the top
Leaning against the old barrier around the viewing station and looking down Nevada Fall.

rock layers and some moss
A mossy rock crevice that seems to have different rocks in the back of it.

daisies and hanging flowers
Columbines and daisies in the gentle and eternal moisture along the trail.

trail with overhanging rock and a line of dribbling water coming down
A bit of the wet section along the cliff hugging trail.

little pink flowers with long tongues sticking out
Some interesting little pink flowers.

Nevada Fall, nearly top to bottom
Nevada Fall coming over the cliff.

When I came to Clark Point, I turned down to reach the Mist Trail and thus be able to visit Vernal Fall as well. The trail was dropping quickly again, with many large granite steps along the way. I started to be quite glad of my extra socks.

people clustered near the waterfall
The top of Vernal Fall and a taste of the crowds that go to see it daily.

The trail drops down to the upstream side of Emerald Pool above Vernal Fall. The water comes in in a giant sheet. Amazingly, no one was breaking the law to swim in the big pool and risk the fate that a few suffer each year. I took a moment to gawk at all the water, which is more impressively displayed on this fall, then continued down even more granite steps past its bottom.

Merced River entering the Emerald Pool
The Merced River being turned into a sheet of water that makes a lovely and deadly waterslide.

lookind down Vernal Fall to the rainbow below
The mist that gives the Mist Trail its name keeping everything watered near the bottom of Vernal Fall.

pools and the water taking off over the top
Beautiful pools right at the top of Vernal Fall seen from the end of the fencing.

graite steps and hand railings
The mist trail as it descends. Today the trail is dry, a sign that the fall is also drying out.

double rainbow at the bottom of Vernal Fall
The rainbows are as lush as the grasses at the bottom of Vernal Fall.

Vernal Fall from another angle
Another view of the great sheets of water coming over the cliff to form Vernal Fall.

Once down the steps left dry by the low water levels, the trail continues a generally paved way past water fountains and flush toilets. The bridge offers one last view of Vernal Falls, but that view is getting rather obscured these days. The river continues to be rough until it reaches Yosemite Valley.

a stream of water attempting to flow past giant boulders
A look downstream along the Merced River.

Getting to the end of the trail, I only had to jump on a shuttle, find a spot in the backpackers' camp, and drop off my bear canister. I could also use a bit of dinner, since I didn't seem to have any dinners left in the canister, just that one part of a breakfast from the morning the stove didn't work and a few snacks meant for lunch. In the morning, I didn't really want the instant oatmeal either, so found something at the store as it opened. Then I caught the hiker's bus back up to Tuolumne Meadows. Meanwhile, I had time for day hikes around the park.

©2012 Valerie Norton
Posted 14 Jul 2012

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