5:55am: Left the RV park and we’re back to Degnan’s Kitchen for their Sunrise Roll (…sub roll with egg, two sausage patties, and cheddar…) to eat beside their fireplace.
8:45am: We thought we had an early start but the parking lot was close to full capacity. Lucky we found a spot. Also, the first time we’ve ever seen "bear containers"… Wow!
Had a general idea of the direction we were headed towards and stumbled upon some kind of campfire meeting area.
From the parking lot we made our way through Fen trail but somehow got turned around and ended up exploring little of the Happy Isles area along the Merced River. We needed to be on the East side of the Merced River by crossing the Happy Isles Bridge.
9:20am: We backtracked and pleasantly had a peek-a-boo view of either the North Dome or Basket Dome in the distance.
Found the right signs to guide us back on the right track. Blessed to see deer on the side of the trail… not shy or skittish at all.
9:30am: We finally found the beginning of the Mist Trailhead. A nice kiosk with a map and another reminder about bears.
I guess this trail is also part of the High Sierra Trail. We’ll be hitting the Vernal Fall Bridge, Top of Vernal Fall, and Emerald Pool and beyond.
"Here comes the burn!" on our uphill climb.
We make frequent rest stops… sometimes simply in shade and the convenience of boulders to sit on...
or resting with the sounds of the roaring Merced River...
and distant views of the cascading Illilouette Fall.
10:10am: At 0.8 miles into the hike, from the start of the Mist Trail, we made it to Vernal Falls Bridge!!! Great view already of Vernal Fall. It was already steep at times getting to the footbridge and some turn back from here as the trail only gets steeper from here. (Sidenote: It was nice that there was a water fountain to fill up your water bottles, if needed... plus flush toilets.)
10:20am: We can officially begin the trek to the top of Vernal Fall… again, we’re still going uphill..! A few rangers were there to advise people to take Clark’s Point back down as it is much safer. There’s a section of ~600 stone steps and the closer to the falls you get, the mist begins… then, the trail gets narrow and the steps get slippery.
10:30am: Here we go. This is where we learn how the Mist Trail earns its name. Rain gear on. I put my rain skirt around my backpack. Long, slippery staircase winds uphill with more than 600 steps to the top of 317-foot Vernal Falls.
Okay. Getting pretty wet here. Refreshing indeed but, let’s get to the top!
Started the morning at a nippy 52F, we’ve now accomplished a not-so-easy 9,047 Steps. The sun is out and warmed up to 75F. We made it! We can take our time and enjoy our victory views at 3,327’.
11:30am: About three (3) hours into the hike, I’ve been looking forward to my victory snack - cinnamon roll. Bill deserved a quick lie down.
Time to call it a day and head back. We could’ve turned back down to Happy Isles via the Mist Trail for a roundtrip journey, but we head the ranger’s advice earlier to head towards Clark Point…. putting us on the John Muir Trail (which shares the same trailhead as the Mist Trail getting us back to the Vernal Fall footbridge). Before jumping on the cutoff trail to Clark Point, we check out Silver Apron.
12:15pm: There goes "Uphill Bill" starting his way on Clark’s Point. Now, we have to go a short, but tough 0.3 miles up to simply head back down (…as suggested by the ranger).
Was it worth going this extra climb of switchbacks up & down versus the simply looping back on the same trail down? Yes, it was! We got a closer look at Nevada Falls and glimpse of Liberty Cap.
Plus, we got to view Vernal Falls from drone views.
1:00pm: Another victory... at Clark’s Point (2,152’). 11,297 steps in according to my Pacer app.
Doesn’t seem like a long hike looking at this map.
Can’t believe there was snow on the trail.
Are these the mules that keep Yosemite’s High Sierra Camps running? Such a cool concept to enjoy "backpacking without the burden of a heavy backpack filled with tents and cooking gear." – TravelYosemite.com
Wishing we could jump on for a ride to skip what seemed like endless switchbacks downhill.
Someone has fed this squirrel before because he wasn’t shy. He stood up and gave me puppy dog eyes.
3:00pm: Back at the parking lot after 7.66 miles and 19,878 steps…! Our joints and muscles will be complaining for awhile but we wouldn’t want to have missed this spectacular hike.
As our RV Park was in Groveland, we found our delish meal at Cocina Michoacana . I recommend their - No. 33. Steak and Shrimp a la Plancha: Marinated in olive oil, white wine, garlic and lemon juice.
Home sweet home at 5:30pm.