About 30 years ago, Wm and his father hiked above “Nevada Fall” to camp in “Little Yosemite”, a beautiful high-country spot popular with backpackers. Remembering how strenuous the hike had seemed when he was young, he wondered how it might be now that he’s pushing 40.
The trail is listed as a strenuous 6.8 miles roundtrip with 2,000’ elevation gain if you take the “Mist Trail”, which is the shortest but steepest route that takes you alongside lower “Vernal Fall”. We chose this path despite warnings of “tremendous amount of spray” and its slick mossy granite “stairs”.
We set out at noon after exploring the “Happy Isles” nature center near the trailhead, and made slow but steady progress up the steep canyons trail. We arrived above Vernal Fall damp but without incident, and had a nice lunch beside the “Emerald Pools” there complete with 4-squirrel attack squad when Wm accidentally dropped a few peanuts. We had gained 1,000 feet and were halfway there!
The trail above Vernal is much more “raw”, which made progress a little slower. As we climbed more and more switchbacks the air grew thinner and made rest stops more frequent. But after a couple of harrowing hours we finally made it to the top of Nevada Fall, exhausted, but rewarded with spectacular views!
We opted to return via the John Muir trail, a longer but less-steep and potentially injurious course. This path is closed during Winter, and it soon became obvious why: several parts had snowy streams and falling water running through them! But it was fun, and gave us a chance to see other parts of the canyon. We made it to the bottom of the trail, 8 miles and 6.5 hours from when we started: very sore, barely able to walk, and with Wm feeling every bit of his 39 years. 🙂