Yosemite, CA

Hey guys! It’s been a minute. After my last post, I got really wrapped up in putting the finishing touches on a book I’m working on so that I can begin the long, arduous submission process. I’ve been studying the writing and publishing world so much lately it’s been making my head spin. If only these National Parks weren’t so far away. I would dearly love to return to a place like Yosemite. I guess a jog downtown will have to do, for now.

Started the morning of Yosemite off with scaring the daylights out of some cows as I was driving down from the mountains.

It was a long drive in the morning due to my inability to find a campground available anywhere near the park on the given day, or a hotel that wouldn’t scalp me. So, I ended up arriving in the middle of the busy day. Parked on the opposite side of the park from my trailhead, waited a terrible hour in the sun to get on a shuttle (not the worst wait of the day, unsurprisingly). But when I finally got going, it turned out to be alright (as it usually does).

Although the parking and shuttles were an absolute mess, the view on the slight walk to my trailhead made up for it.
The start of the trail up to Vernal Falls. Very crowded, and steep, of course. But there are lots of places to sit and rest on the way up.

I started up the trail to Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls form the Happy Isles Nature Center, using the Mist Trail and John Muir trail on the way back. A loop, 6.2 miles but feeling like much further due to the 2,000 foot elevation change.

Nothing short of spectacular views on the climb, in this clear (and blinding) California sun.
The first short bridge crossing.

Clean, clear, bubbling, crashing, emerald green water transformed white. Impossible, smooth peaks of slate gray that sloped perfectly into their forms. I left the bottleneck of tourists behind at the first major bridge, and was completely floored as I got my first look at Vernal Falls on those steep, slippery steps.

There was a rainbow at the bottom of the waterfall. Not surprising, it is fine mist after all, but no less stunning. The wide Vernal Falls striped the smooth drop-off in shades of tiger’s eye, the spring-green grass coating the lower hillside, the pointed pines guarding the upper cliffs. The rainbow billowed at the crashing water, under the high, perfect blue sky. And yet, this was somehow not the most beautiful waterfall I encountered on this day.

The top of Vernal Falls. Had to squeeze in and take my turn at the railing to get a picture.

After the march up those endless steps beneath Vernal Falls, I continued to Nevada Falls, the Liberty Cap looking down on me all the while. Maybe I’ll climb Yosemite’s Half Dome someday too, but not on the agenda for today, I thought. Maybe with a pair of good gloves for the cables, and more strength in my legs.

Mt. Broderick (left) and the Liberty Cap (right). I mistook Liberty Cap for the Half Dome at the time, but the Half Dome is actually back there behind Mt. Broderick.
Looking up at Nevada Falls. Those precarious and rocky steps get steep really quick, but at least aren’t slippery like Vernal Falls.
Halfway up. Stopped to huff and puff and eat a snack before shoving myself the rest of the way to the top.

The skinny, tapering, undulating Nevada Falls was best seen from the trailing edge of the John Muir trail, with a devastatingly picturesque view from the very top. A classic view of Yosemite up there, one best taken in over a few minutes and a healthy dose of awed silence.

The Liberty Cap was so tall I had to tilt my camera a bit to do it justice.
Probably got a bit too close to get a picture of the top of Nevada Falls. It was very windy and aggressively misty. Worth it to see the way the water crashes over the drop-off.
Looking over the railing. The massive scale of these falls cannot be fathomed from a little picture like this.
Just look at this place. Absolutely unbelievable.

Nevada Falls billowed rainbow off the rock face, the icy water letting off a fiery, colorful aura that could not be properly photographed. It burned, absolutely, with every color, shamelessly. The Liberty Cap presided over this, as well as the deep, sweeping valley below. The wildflowers and trickling cliffs shone in the waning, warm sunlight. I stood there for a long time, watching, listening, and then I descended my final mountain peak for this trip.

I can see myself returning to Nevada Falls and Yosemite someday and remembering these peaceful moments. Despite the never-ending wait for the return shuttle at 6pm, this park was still worth it.

Get your shuttles fixed, Yosemite. Please.

The fading light of a good day.

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