Yosemite - Nevada Falls
a quick trip to Yosemite in winter, with a rigorous day hike
The picture below shows the view from Lower Yosemite Falls, but the main hike that my friends and I tackled was the trek to Nevada Falls. (This photo makes a nice phone lockscreen picture by the way.)
We started our hike down in the valley near Upper Pines Campground. Within the first 20 minutes, we passed by a bobcat that retreated into the forest. It caught me completely off guard and I didn’t manage to get a picture, but it was very cool to see. We hiked along the Mist Trail for a few uneventful miles until we arrived at the bridge below Vernal Falls. It was at this point that we discovered that alternate trails are open during winter, so we had to take a steeper trail to reach the top of Vernal Falls and beyond. No one was particularly excited to hike up a steeper trail, but we still had plenty of energy at this point and didn’t consider turning around at all. Little did we know that this alternate trail would turn our trip into a 3,200 ft elevation gain hike over 7.5 miles.
Hiking up many switchbacks, we eventually reached the turnoff for the top of Vernal Falls. From this vantage point, we had a great view of Liberty Cap and could see a bit of Vernal Falls in the distance. We followed the short turnoff to Vernal and had some tasty, slightly smooshed PB and J’s while looking over the falls. After this good break and refueling, we decided to make the full trek to the top of Nevada Falls.
This last section was more strenuous than expected, and I think we roughly climbed 1000 ft in .75 miles. This was the view of the falls as we climbed upwards:
We took several mini-breaks, but finally made it and the view from the top of Nevada Falls was truly spectacular. I’m not a huge fans of heights, but standing on the edge of the cliff (behind a fence) next to the waterfall overlooking the valley was amazing. There was no question whether or not the view was worth the effort.
The return trip significantly easier, and we made it back to our car with only a few snack/water breaks. We hopped in the car and drove to the Ahwahnee for Firefall spiked Mexican hot chocolate. Great trip.