This was my first Sierra Nevada trek while I was in the Navy. I took a month's leave and did this two week 57 mile backpack trip June 28-July 11, 1957 in Yosemite National Park first. I spent several days in Yosemite Valley riding around on a bicycle, floating on the Merced River and a day hike to the top of Yosemite Falls. This was followed by two weeks in Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park.
I rode the Greyhound bus from San Diego to Visalia where I transferred to the Yosemite Park & Curry Co. bus which took me to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias near the South Entrance to Yosemite National Park.
The national park idea is rooted in the Mariposa Grove. In 1864 President Lincoln signed legislation protecting the Mariposa Grove and Yosemite Valley for "public use, resort, and recreation."
This landmark legislation holds an important place in our country's history and was enacted at a time when the nation was embroiled in the Civil War. For the first time in our nation's history, the federal government set aside scenic natural areas to be protected for the benefit of future generations. Later added to Yosemite National Park in 1906, the Mariposa Grove is a popular destination within the park.
After touring the Mariposa Grove I backpacked down a mostly paved trail - from Civilian Conservation Corps days - to the campground at Wawona.
The next day I backpacked up the road through Wawona Village and picked up the trail past Chilnualna Falls. I made camp along a creek before arriving at Bridalveil Campground which I passed through the next day.
I picked up the Pohono Trail and made my next camp at the bridge crossing Bridalveil Creek. The trail soon brought me to Taft Point where I got my first views of Yosemite Valley - much as the first white men did. It was awe inspiring and I spent much time photographing the valley before continuing to Glacier Point. The views include El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, Half Dome and, of course, the deep valley itself.
I camped at Glacier Point - after seeing my first bears on the trail and in the campground. More views of Half Dome, Tenaya Canyon, Nevada and Vernal Falls. That night I enjoyed the "Firefall".
The next day's trail took me past Illilouette Falls, Panorama Cliff, Nevada and Vernal Falls into the valley at Happy Isles - which at this time was still operated as a fish hatchery. I found a campsite without much trouble and headed for the showers at Camp Curry. I also indulged in some fresh cooked food.
The next several days were spent riding rented bicycles all around the valley to the various points of interest including the Wawona Tunnel, Yosemite Village, Old Village, Bridalveil Falls, etc. I saw the "Firefall" and enjoyed many evening programs on the Camp Curry Stage.
I had originally planned to spend only a short time in the valley and then backpack up Tenaya Canyon to the north rim and along it to Yosemite Falls - however, I soon abandoned that idea and spent some time floating down the Merced River on my air mattress when not out sightseeing.
One afternoon I hiked up the Yosemite Falls trail and after a cold supper watched the "Firefall" from the top of the falls before a night hike back to camp in the valley.
I was having a tremendous time on my first visit to the Sierra as I took the Yosemite Park and Curry Co. Bus to Merced at the end of the second week. I was on my way to Sequoia National Park and the High Sierra Trail.
Grizzly Giant tree base - Mariposa Grove - Yosemite National Park - Jul 1957
California Tree - Mariposa Grove - Yosemite National Park - Jul 1957
Grizzly Giant tree - Mariposa Grove - Yosemite National Park - Jun 1968
Limb on Grizzly Giant tree - Mariposa Grove - Yosemite National Park - Jun 1968
'Elephant Foot' - Mariposa Grove - Yosemite National Park - Jul 1957
Looking up 'telescope tree' - Mariposa Grove - Yosemite National Park - Jul 1957
Massachusetts Tree - Mariposa Grove - Yosemite National Park - Jul 1957
Wawona Dome from Mariposa-Wawona Trail - Yosemite National Park - Jul 1957
Tunnel Tree with my car - Mariposa Grove - Yosemite National Park - Jun 1968
South Fork Merced River at Wawona campground - Yosemite National Park - Jul 1957
Chilnualna Creek just below Wawona Dome - Yosemite National Park - Jul 1957
On the trail to Chilnualna Falls - Yosemite National Park - Jul 1957
Chilnualna Falls from the trail - Yosemite National Park - Jul 1957
View over top of Chilnualna Falls - Yosemite National Park - Jul 1957
Remains of log cabin and fireplace at Turner Meadow - Yosemite National Park - Jul 1957
Bridalveil Creek near Ostrander Lake trail junction - Yosemite National Park - Jul 1957
Homesteader's cabin, Peregoy Meadow - Yosemite National Park - Jul 1957
Peregoy Meadow - Yosemite National Park - Jul 1957
Bridalveil Creek at Pohono Trail - Yosemite National Park - Jul 1957
FROM BRIDALVEIL TO NEVADA FAll GOES HERE
Nevada Fall and Vernal Fall from Glacier Point - Yosemite National Park - Jun 2006
Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall from Washburn Point - Yosemite National Park - Jun 2006
Nevada Fall from Washburn Point - Yosemite National Park - Jun 2006
Bridge at Nevada Fall - Yosemite National Park - Jul 1958
Looking over top of Nevada Fall - Yosemite National Park - Jul 1957
Over the brink of Nevada Fall - Yosemite National Park - Jul 1957
Nevada Fall, Silver Apron, Emerald Pool from above Vernal Fall
Yosemite National Park - Jul 1957
Nevada Fall from Mist Trail - Yosemite National Park - Jul 1957
NPS Map of Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall trails
From the top of Nevada Fall you can hike to Yosemite Valley via either the Mist Trail or the John Muir Trail or a combination of both .. see the map.
Continuing along the Mist Trail, you’ll experience 1.5 miles of steep, rocky switchbacks as you descend to Vernal Fall. The alternative John Muir Trail is much gentler but longer.
Crashing down 594 feet, the thunderous Nevada Fall is fullest in spring and early summer, and you will find terrific photographic opportunities along this stretch of trail.
At the top of Vernal Fall, you can experience jaw-dropping views straight down the length of the 317-foot waterfall (please don't cross the railings and use extreme caution while you're near any flowing water or wet rock in this area).
Once atop Vernal Fall there is a pool of water called the Emerald Pool around which hikers lounge and rest. There is also a 20 degree slope of rock with water flowing into the pool called the Silver Apron.
NPS Vernal Fall/Nevada Fall trail profile
To proceed directly from the top of Vernal Fall, follow the Mist Trail down a steep granite stairway of over 600 steps.
Prepare for slippery footing and a tremendous amount of waterfall spray in spring and early summer (hence the name for this trail!).
You will delight in views of Vernal Fall all along this stretch of trail and may even be able to see a rainbow in the spray of the fall.
Upon reaching the footbridge, you will find an excellent view of Vernal Fall.
From the base of Vernal Fall the Mist Trail is mostly shaded and the slope becomes more gentle.
From the Vernal Fall Footbridge the trail is paved for the final mile to the trailhead at Happy Isles.
You can appreciate views along the way, and during spring, when the water levels are at their peak, you can also glimpse Illillouette Fall from this section of trail.
Above Silver Apron at Vernal Fall - Yosemite National Park - Jul 1957
Silever Apron and Emerald Pool at Vernal Fall - Yosemite National Park - Jul 1957
Emerald Pool and Silver Apron at Vernal Fall - Yosemite National Park - Jul 1957
Vernal Fall - Yosemite National Park - Aug 1966
Vernal Fall from bottom of Mist Trail - Yosemite National Park - Jul 1957
Vernal Fall from Mist Trail - Yosemite National Park - Jul 1957
Half Dome, tourists floating in Merced River in Yosemite Valley
Yosemite National Park - Jul 1957
Storm clouds over sunset on Half Dome from Yosemite Valley
Yosemite National Park - Jul 1957
IN VALLEY PORTION OF TRIP GOES HERE