It was an easy day to sleep in, we’ve become accustomed to west coast time, as much as we’ve tried to stay on Mountain time. With the heater running, and it being cozy in the loft and the long hike yesterday, we lazed, to the point that by the time I was ready to make breakfast, it was a rush to get the coffee perked and the pancakes made before the no generator limit of 9 AM. I never want to be that guy.
I thought that it would be a day of driving and burning fuel with trips to Glacier Point via Tunnel View and then off to Hetch Hetchy, but Louise said that se wanted it to be a water day, and she wanted to visit the bridge where the Tuolumne river runs where Kitt swam when she was just a kid, and then a trip to the top of Vernal Falls, via the mist Trail. The first part was easy, we fished a little and did no catching, and met a great guy named Mike who works for the San Diego Chargers. He was a fisher and not a catcher too, and was at the stream “just for the enjoyment of it”. I told him to say Hi to Mike Murphy when the teams meet. It’s always a small world.
There was a hitchhiker in front of the store at the meadows and of all the guys that I’ve seen at the side of he road hitchhiking he seemed to need a ride more than the rest. We picked him up and it turned out he was a through hiker on the Pacific Crest Trail. The ride down was more interesting, and we made a couple of stops because it seemed that Trevor wasn’t that familiar with the area and it didn’t seem right that you would get a ride and not see the country you were passing through. It was a great conversation and he seems like a good man and person. Turned out that Trevor was friends with the woman who laid the groundwork for the bear program in the Valley. It is an exceptional program, and he recorded my comments for passing on to his friend. I hope that we’ll stay in touch in the future. We dropped him off at the Curry Campground center.
It was a short bike ride to the trailhead of the Mist Trail We got a call from Betsy while I was unshipping the bikes, and she kindly reminded me to take the correct trail to Vernal Falls this time. One wrong turn twenty five years ago, and a guy just can’t live some things down. We parked the bikes, I forgot the hiking poles in some confused moment, and we started in on the trail. I knew that the trail was steep in parts, but the mountains must have experienced a period of uplift in association with the drought, no water to hold them down, because I’m sure that the trail is steeper now than it was.
We took the long and slow approach. Walk until you are short of breath, (two hundred feet) rest and repeat until you are at a destination, then rest, take several pictures and repeat. We eventually made it to the bridge where there were bathrooms, water and the intersection of about a half a dozen trails. I had been counting the number of people our age or older, and of the thousands of people on the trail, I counted about 25 people our age. When we crossed the bridge and climbed to the top of Vernal Falls, I counted only three. The median age was about 30.
The surprising thing about the people climbing to Vernal Falls was the outfits on some of the women. There was a Japanese woman who would not have been out of place on the Ginza in Tokyo. There were several who could have gone straight from the trail to a fancy Manhattan cocktail party. Others looked like they had come straight from the fashion pages revealing what you should wear to your yoga class. There were sandals, cut offs bikini tops, mo tops on the guys showing off their tats (doesn’t anyone look at a 70 year old vet with tattoos to see what time will do to those tattoos?) all sorts of people in all kinds of clothing. Mostly, everyone was in sensible shoes and shirts and pants for the hike.
Vernal Falls was spectacular. We saw then last, kind of, in 2011, if you can really see anything under the blast of a fire hose. Vernal Falls drains all of the Little Yosemite Valley, and back then, with a snow cover of something like 250% there was no mist covering the trail it was a full on deluge. I was really impressed, but I didn’t see much. The water coming over Yosemite Falls and Bridal Veil Falls were pretty wimpy, and it’s only late June. I would not want to come here in August. I’m betting that the falls will be dry then.
We took plenty of pictures. I’m interested in comparing 2011 to now. The area called Silver Beach where I saw the 12 foot tall standing wave had a standing wave of about nine inches. The area was still spectacular. One man, age 56, had just climbed half dome with his friend, also age 56, as was very proud (as he should be). He pointed out the top of Half dome visible from the trail. I’ve been on that trail at least four times and it’s the first time that I realized that it was Half Dome. The things you learn when you talk to people.
Emerald Pool was no longer a washing machine full of twenty foot long, 2 foot in diameter logs and froth. There were a million signs, it seemed, warning about wading or swimming in the water, and the signs promised substantial fines and a bill for the cost of rescue or recovery. They should spend the same time and effort in making the roads smoother and putting up granite blocks on some of the scarier curves.
The trip down was much easier now that gravity was on our side. The drought has made sure that all the dust from thousands of people are all over the granite steps, so occasionally it was like walking on ball bearings, but all went well. We met some interesting on the trail as we always seem to do, and the light conversation, centered on fishing, not catching, made the trip down pleasant and fast.
The hundreds of bikes at the bike rack were gone, so it was easy to get ours, and in a short time, after a very nice downhill glide we were back at the RV. I was tired and it was late, so we came back to the site after a quick stop to get water for hot, long, relaxing showers. Dinner was quick and the same as two nights before, hot dogs and sauerkraut and homemade macaroni salad washed down with a cool beer.
Tomorrow we’re off for a spot in the middle of Nevada selected as the best stop between here and Arches National Park. The Ward Mountain Campground, part of the Humboldt – Toiyabe National Forest. I’m hoping we get out of here early enough to make a stop at Mono Lake before we cross the desert of Nevada. Tomorrow will tell.