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Thursday 24 Oct 2013
Livermore, USA

Making friends on the Mist Trail

After a visit to the Mountain Store and a quick breakfast, I caught the shuttle bus up to the trailhead for the Mist Trail.  This trail is described as moderate as far as the footbridge, then strenuous for the climb up to the top of Vernal Fall.  From there, the choice is to keep going up to Nevada Fall or loop around and back down to the valley.  I was a little perturbed by the steep hike up to the footbridge that had everybody puffing and panting – if that was moderate, what was the next bit going to be like? 

I found out fairly quickly.  It was going to be steps.  Lots of stone steps – uneven heights, uneven levels and unequally spaced – which made climbing them with short legs even harder.  Partway up, the steps draw even with the foot of the fall, which comes shooting out over a sheer rock face and drops 97m to the pool below, before tumbling down the rocky stream all the way to the valley.  At its peak, the fall is more like a wall of water, but in October the river above narrows to a small channel before tumbling out over the edge.  It was still an impressive sight, but it was clear by the watermarks on the rock face either side how much bigger the fall could be in spring.

I got chatting to an English couple on the way and ended up climbing half the way up with them.  Claire and Anthony were actually on their honeymoon, travelling around California for a couple of weeks.  We ate lunch together above the fall to let our legs recover a little.  We briefly considered climbing up to Nevada Fall, but decided that involved too many more steps, so decided to carry on around the loop back to the village.  As it happened, this still involved climbing a lot further and gave us some good views of Nevada Fall and Half Dome on the way.  The trail down was longer, but didn’t involve climbing back down the steps we had come up.  Instead, it meandered down through the woods at a more gentle pace.  By the time we reached the bottom, we were all feeling sore and achy so I was invited back for beer o’clock at their campervan.  Claire and Anthony had an enormous 29’ campervan – they’d been given a free upgrade, which earned them an extra 8’ on the back of the van.  I’m glad it wasn’t me having to drive that around the narrow roads and tight bends in the Park! 

My tent cabin was only 5 minutes walk further on, so I went back and showered, picked up some more beer and joined them again for a barbecue dinner.  It was really nice to sit out in the woods and enjoy the evening.  It turned out they were going to be in Napa at the same time as Ailsa and I, so we made plans to meet up again for a wine tour.  Several hours later, my aching legs carried me back to my tent, happily avoiding any bears in the woods on the way.

In the morning, I packed everything back into the car and said farewell to my little tent cabin.  I’d survived three nights bear-free and now it was time to leave Yosemite again.  I spent another hour in Yosemite Valley itself, visiting the old Awahnee Hotel and admiring the reflections along the Merced River – where the Ranger had moved us on last time.  I also joined a couple of Canadians trying to spot climbers on the face of El Capitan.  It takes the average climber at least three days to scale the mountain, though the record for speed solo climbing was set at a mere 9 hours.  After a few moments of staring, we spotted one of the suspended camps, then several groups of climbers in different places.  I thought I had seen a light on the face while I was driving back from Mariposa Grove a couple of nights ago, so it must have been one of these suspended camps.  In all the climbing I used to do, I never once had a desire to sleep suspended from a few hooks on a rock face!

I drove back up the Tioga Road for a while, intending to go and see the view from Olmstead Point properly, but after Mirror Lake I realised it was a lot further up than I remembered, so I made my way back out of the Park and drove back over to Livermore again.  Bill and Donna welcomed me once again with open arms (and a glass of wine!)  I have really enjoyed spending time here and getting to know them both.

 

Mileage: 1620

Running total: 4,310


 

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Zoe's Big World Adventure Part II - #1 America

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Here I go again! After the incredible experiences of my first Big World Adventure, I'm off again for part two, starting with a classic American Road Trip through California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona...

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