Wake up early, load up, and hit the road in the RV around 7am. The roads are pretty empty so it’s easy going. We get to the trailhead parking lot and easily find a spot. Then it’s on to the small store in Curry Village to pick up a few lunch items for the next few days. We have a stash of oatmeal and Mountain House meals for spur of the moment backcountry trips (or emergency situations) so we are set for breakfasts and dinners, but we need some snacks for lunch throughout the day. Fully supplied we make our way to the trailhead and begin our hike. The Mist Trail is one of Yosemite’s most popular hikes, so normally it’s crowded with people. However, at 9am it’s pretty sparsely populated and we have nobody tailing us or slowing us down. We make it to Vernal Falls, a beautiful, fast-flowing waterfall and the trail works it’s way up right beside the fall via stone steps. It’s a wet hike due to all the mist and we get pretty soaked, but it’s fun and a great way to cool down. We make it to the top and remove our packs to enjoy the view a bit.
Continuing on, we work our way up some switchbacks until Nevada Falls comes in to sight, then it’s up more switchbacks to the top. Spectacular views of the falls and surrounding valley. The water is just rushing down with such velocity and volume, spring sure is a great time to visit!
Another mile past Nevada Falls we have arrived at the Little Yosemite Valley backcountry campground. We’ve never stayed at a backcountry campground, so it’s a new experience for us. There is an outhouse here with composting toilets (what? no digging your own poop trench? this isn’t backcountry camping!) and bear lockers are provided. Apparently this area is very heavily used in the summer months once the cables go up on Half Dome and you can hike up to the top. Therefore, it is also the area in the park with the most bear encounters due to the large volume of people. However, in the spring, before all the Half Domers and JMT hikers have begun, it’s a peaceful little spot. We spot only one other group of three here at the moment and snag a campsite way at the end, tucked away in a corner of the woods. We can see Half Dome looming behind the trees at our site.
We set up camp, eat a quick snack, and then head farther down the trail to the Half Dome Junction. The actual Dome is still snowy, but most of the trail to it is not, so we work our way up the trail in hopes of some good views (and a permit is not required at this time of year since you can’t actually climb to the top). We make it about 1.5 miles before the snowpack really starts (the whole trail is only 2 miles). Luckily, we are just about at the base of the Dome, so we have some spectacular views of its northern side and the surrounding valley, yay! We sit down on a bare spot of ground surrounded by snow and Matthew sketches the Dome. We enjoy the view for quite a while and then head back down.
Back on the JMT, we continue on a little farther, past the Clouds Rest Junction, enjoying the spectacular scenery. Finally, hungry for dinner we head back to camp, prepare dinner (the chicken and rice tastes spectacular to us tonight!) and head to bed early, full and happy! Great day of hiking, about 11.5 miles cumulative.