Saturday, September 15, 2012

Yosemite: Day 6; Hike to Vernal Falls

Our oldest daughter had asked for a "hard hike" so we decided to try the Vernal Falls hike. It began with about a mile bike ride to the trailhead, followed by a 2 mile hike with a 400 foot elevation change. This would be no problem for the adults in our party, but it could be somewhat challenging for our 2 and 4-year old. We would see. The trail was paved, which was kind of hazardous for toddlers, but the kids did great for a while. Our 4-year-old hiked the entire thing without being carried, but our little guy got a shoulder or back-pack ride for most of the trip.
The trail to Vernal Falls

Plenty of places to stop for rests on the way up the trail.
A pretty view of the Merced River from one of the overlooks along the trail

When we a view! The river rushed below us, and we could see the falls above. It was simply beautiful. There is a pretty wooden bridge which crosses the river and allows you to get the perfect view of the falls. Again, it was just rather dangerous for our two little guys, so my hubs kindly took the kids across the bridge to play on the boulders while I took some photos. Then, we switched places afterwards.
Vernal Falls (flowing at about 30% of it's normal rate, because it was so late in the year)
From what we've read, when the falls are at their peak flow, you can feel the mist from them from many places on the trail. Having stood there, and seen how far away they are, I am amazed at how much water must be pouring down that mountain when they are really flowing. We'd love to come back again in spring or fall to really see them going.
Looking down from the Vernal Falls Footbridge
Happy to have made it to Vernal Falls!
Even at lower levels, you could feel the raw power of the Mighty Merced River below. The water was just rushing past.
 The kids had a wonderful time exploring around the top of the trail. There are huge boulders and hillsides to explore. We let them have a little fun, before returning back down the mountain.
Three little mountain goats enjoyed climbing around the end of this hike
I'm the king of the world!!!
The girls found a perfect seat in one of the granite boulders. 
Exploring the enormous boulders around the falls area
 There is another trail you can continue up to get an even closer look at the falls. We made the mutual decision not to go on that trail, as our two youngest kids were exhausted from the hike to this point. I would have loved to go all the way up, but the kids come first...and they were very tired. We really hope to come back again in the spring, when the kids are just a bit older, so we can really see all of the falls in their glory.
On our way back down
The trip down the mountain was an easy one, we just had to watch our footing. I'm really not sure why they pave many of the paths here. The downfall to the paving is that when sand/dirt are on it, it's very slippery. Also, there is about a three inch drop at either side, so when you have to move over to let other hikers pass, it's really easy to roll an ankle. I'm sure there is a reason for it, but I prefer the regular dirt trails. At any rate, just watch your step! The hike is a beautiful one, and I highly recommend it. Our 4-year old was able to hike the whole thing by herself, and our two-year old did about a third of it before being backpacked. It was a relatively easy hike for the parents, and our seven year old ran it. I recommend leaving early in the morning to beat the crowds and the hotter weather. It was a very scenic, enjoyable hike!

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