Wife and I took a road trip the past few days and got out on some fun, beautiful day hikes – the first of which involved hiking up the Mist Trail in Yosemite and descending the more graded (and less crowded) JMT.
We parked the car in the hiker overflow lot in the Curry Village lot and hiked about .75 miles to the Happy Isles trailhead. We played around on the flat trails, exploring Happy Isles and the beautiful watershed surrounding it.
After playing at Happy Isles (and warming up/stretching out a little) we hit the hiker highway that leads up to the Mist Trail.
The first .75 miles or so of the Mist Trail is paved. After that, the paved portions are sporadic before turning into stairs. Being that we were there on a Saturday afternoon, there were an awful lot of people on the path. At about 1 mile in, the stairs begin in earnest, along with a wicked dousing of mist – hence the name of the trail.
Finally, after about 1.5 miles or so, we reached the top of Vernal Falls. This is a big turnaround point for lots of tourists and the hike became quite a bit more pleasant for wife and I afterward.
We continued another 1.5 miles up towards Nevada Falls. This – in my opinion – is the coolest part of the trail. The trail traverses sub-alpine terrain and has fewer stairs with more shade. Just before Nevada Falls, there is another .2 miles or so of stairs to ascend. No big deal. Finally, after about 3.5 miles of uphill pushing, we arrived at Nevada Falls. The scenary did not disappoint, with awesome views of the valley below and many surrounding monoliths (including Half Dome, El Capitan, and others). In an effort to avoid more crowds and the slick stairs back down the Mist Trail, we elected to follow the JMT back to Happy Isles. The JMT is graded very comfortably and less exposed (which my vertigo definitely appreciated). We arrived at the terminus of our hike after about 4 hours, feeling accomplished and very hungry for some good dinner!
Total moving time (parking lot to parking lot): 4:57:00
Total mileage: 10.25 miles
Elevation gain (according to my Garmin): 3,357′ (but I think that may be a bit high)