Our second and final day in Yosemite took us to the vertigo-inducing heights of Vernal and Nevada Falls.
The day began with a sucky breakfast and cold coffee at the Best Western, and so could only improve from there. After the 45 minute drive from Mariposa to Yosemite we stopped at the Yosemite Falls Village to get water, ponchos, and lunch.
We parked the car, then hiked half a mile to the Vernal Falls trailhead. The trail grew steep quickly, though nothing that seemed too difficult. There are bathrooms fairly often (usually at trail junctions), another sign of Yosemite's luxury compared to Sequoia's comfortless hikes. The Mist Trail is appropriately named - as I neared the base of Vernal Falls I was thankful for the poncho. Water rained down in heavy drops, and the wind whipped the spray back and forth across the gorge.
At the top of Vernal Falls is a flat expanse of rock. We dried off in the sun and ate sandwiches we picked up at Degnan's Deli (near the Visitor Center). We debated what are next step should be - continue up to Nevada Falls or go back down and see something else. In the end we decided to keep going up, not knowing how long the hike would last.
The climb to Nevada Falls was harder and longer than that to Vernal. Much of it was uneven rock steps and slippery, flooded trail. As we approached the falls we could see the water soaring out from the top a several feet before beginning its plunge to the riverbed below. Sprays shot out from the main flow in a fireworks-like display.
The view from the top of Nevada Falls was great - there was a large area to walk in, to get close to the water. There was also a veiwing area, not all of which had guard rail. I got down on my stomach and crawled to the edge, wary of the sharp drop below. Took a few pictures before mild vertigo set in and I had to back away from the edge.
Hiking back down was a chore to say the least. Switchback after switchback turned it into a fairly long, dull affair. We took the John Muir trail back to where it split from the Mist Trail, then the Mist Trail back to the parking lot.
Our total hike time was 7 hours. We ate at Degnan's Loft, which had good pizza, and then drove back to the hotel to rest before our final day of sightseeing in Point Reyes.