After a record snowfall in the winter, it was an epic thawing of Yosemite in May. The falls were raging, many trails were flooded and the eastern side of the park was packed in with snow and not accessible in May but it was a fun adventure nevertheless!
Our first stop in the park was the Tunnel View, of course. Then we headed to Yosemite Falls. We were lucky to find a parking spot fairly quickly but if you are heading out later in the morning be prepared for the heavy traffic in the park. We made the short and easy hike on a paved trail to the bottom of Yosemite Falls. The temperature dropped the closer we got to the falls and the wild spray of the mist soaked the floor. Next, we headed to the Valley Loop Trail, which has views of Three Brothers Rock, El Capitan and Yosemite Falls. Because we opted for the half loop, we crossed the Merced River at the El Capitan Bridge to make our way back. The trail is easy and fairly level. Again the heavy snow melt washed out the part of the trail that intersects the Four Mile Trail but was easy to wade through and pick up the trail again.
The next day we drove to Glacier Point. The park opened Glacier Point Road only a few days before we arrived. The snow melt soaked the road and the unmelted snow on the sides made the driving path narrower than usual. It was a clear and warm day on Glacier Point, so we had an amazing panoramic view of the Park.
On the third day, we hiked the Mist Trail to Vernal Falls. Despite being one of the most popular hikes, it is not easy. The paved trail to the footbridge has steady but gradual incline. Even still, my friend Lee and I found ourselves stopping a few times to catch our breath. The slippery and steep climb through the stone steps begins shortly after the footbridge. There is a 1,000 foot gain in elevation in the remaining 1.5 miles to the top of the falls but it felt less strenuous than the walk up to the foot bridge. Although we were prepared to be soaked by the mist, we only got mildly wet and regretted not bringing our cell phones/camera because it would have been dry. We had a breathtaking view from the top of trail including a double rainbow that framed the Falls. Walking back down the slippery stone steps seemed a dangerous endeavor, so we made our way down through the gradual and dry John Muir Trail.
On our last day, we made a quick stop at Bridalveil Fall, the 620-foot waterfall seen from the tunnel view. It’s a short and comfortable stroll from the parking lot to the falls. After which, we headed to the Half Dome (Curry) Village parking lot to park the car and catch the shuttle to Mirror Lake. There are two options for the hike – hiking in and out via the paved path or the longer three mile hike through the trail. We opted for the three mile hike, which has unparalleled views of the Lake and mountains reflected in the water. The picturesque scene almost looked like a painting. While the trail is fairly level, parts of it are rocky and if there is a large snow melt as was the case this spring the trail will get flooded. After attempting to find alternatives (e.g. skipping over unstable logs and walking along the edge of the trail), we dove into the icy cold water barefoot. The water was frigid and my feet hurt not only from the temperature but also the sharp rocks. After we got to the dry part of the trail and I put my dry socks and shoes back on, the pain was worth it. We could’ve avoided this rookie mistake by checking trail conditions at the ranger station before we headed out but chucked it as part of our grand adventure. Mosquitos are quite active and swarm the trail in the spring. Once we got to the drier parts of the trail, we stopped for lunch but we couldn’t sit for more than a couple of minutes. Rather than go home covered in mosquito bites, we chose to eat our lunch while we hiked which kept the mosquitos somewhat at bay. The bus ride back to the car can take a while. The buses coming to the Mirror Lake stop, especially later in the afternoon are packed, so you might have to wait for a couple of buses before finally making it on to the bus.
There are many other areas of Yosemite to explore and I hope you discover your Yosemite adventure!