Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Vernal and Nevada Falls via Mist Trail
There's something magical about arriving in Yosemite in the pitch dark, late on a Friday night. Driving into what is considered one of nature's true beauties without seeing any of it - in a way, it only increases the level of anticipation and excitement. That's what we did - winding along the curvy roads, into mystery.
Once we set up camp at the North Pines Campground, all that stood between us and our journey were dreams. Oh, and the torrential downpour that began just as we turned off our headlamps and zipped up our sleeping bags. Thanks to Liz's waterproof tent, we woke up the next morning completely dry, without a single drop in our cozy make-shift home. We woke up laughing at the rain - a great way to start our weekend in Yosemite. Another great way to start? This being your first sight:
In terms of weather, we were lucky that the rain only lasted through the night. The storm made for a chilly first day, with low clouds wrapping around the granite walls of the park. To stay warm, we wore winter hats, scarves and mittens. It could not have been cozier.
With only two full days in the Valley, we began our adventure right away. I myself felt frantic to see everything - although I'd been on many family vacations to Yosemite, I'd yet to go as an adult. I was interested in having my own personal experience, but I also wanted to see every famous sight, or as I was calling them, the "celebrities." Day 1 was a big hike along the High Sierra Loop via the Mist Trail. Our first stop would be the top of Vernal Falls (see below) and then we would make our way to the top of Nevada Falls. Waterfalls became the theme of the weekend, obviously.
In total, our round-trip hike came out to 7 miles. Mileage and landmarks are one thing, but what you see along the way can't be measured or named. Also, climbing to the top of a waterfall is no small thing. There are lots of factors involved - the steep climb, the slippery steps, the vertigo-inducing overlooks. All worth it, of course. So, check out this tree:
I loved the blankets of green as we hiked along the trail. Central to this scene, was what I believed to be the perfect Christmas tree.
Almost to the top of Vernal...now we see why it's called Mist Trail.
The top of Nevada...so close yet so far! Who would have thought .8 more miles would feel like forever? But when you're almost to the top - length and time become blurry. You start to think of food, or the blister that's forming on your foot. You wonder, how come I can't do this everyday? The staircase above was one of my favorite sights on the trail. The foliage was at its peak - I was obsessed.
Finally, the top! Many hikers who reached this summit were heading onward to tackle Half Dome. Not for us, though, but maybe next time. By the time we reached the falls, we had lunch on our minds - a reality that only comes as soon as the trail head. We made it back to our campground eventually, enjoying sandwiches and hot cocoa around the campfire. The trip had only just begun, but I felt wildly at home at our cozy campsite, sweet site at North Pines.