Well after visiting a city with buildings sprouting from its hills; after some beach time with thick sand and chilly waters, I was ready for a hike into the woods. I wanted to stare—jaw-dropped—at towering waterfalls; to chill—literally—in mountain rivers. So we headed for Yosemite National Park in California.
|After a strenuous hike to Vernal Falls,
we needed to cool off. What better
way than in a pristine mountain
stream on the valley floor.
A free shuttle bus system takes visitors around this popular national park. You can drive your own vehicle into and around Yosemite. The shuttle buses aren’t mandatory, but are recommended to help with volume. Plus, everyone gets to enjoy the scenery if you take the shuttle.
Some of the day hikes in Yosemite Valley are short, easy hikes. We started with these: Bridalveil Fall and Lower Yosemite Fall, both about a half mile loop. We moved onto the Vernal Fall Footbridge hike, about 1.4 miles roundtrip. This was a moderate hike, according to the brochures and park rangers. The children did well. No complaints. I was proud of them. But still, I wanted to get closer to this magnificent waterfall if I could. I wanted a hike I could really sink my boots into.
So one day I talked the family into the Top of Vernal Falls hike. It was only 3 miles, round trip. But it was strenuous. We took the eastern Yosemite Valley shuttle to stop #16, Happy Isles, to pick up the Mist Trail as it’s more direct to head to the top of Vernal Falls. You can also reach the falls via the John Muir Trail at the juncture with Mist Trail.
Up! And I do mean up, we climbed. The scenery was breathtaking along the Merced River—but so was the hike. The Yosemite Valley lay before us, grand and vast; we could view it in spots along the trail.
Then we found the granite stairway. 600 steps worth. I thought the family would crucify me. I must admit, we all plodded along slowly. The only way to endure a strenuous hike. But—wow! 317 feet of waterfall. It was worth it!
|Beautiful Vernal Falls in Yosemite
National Park, California.
The kids vetoed another mile and a half to the Nevada Falls, and I had to agree. We still needed to head back down. The John Muir Trail is longer than the Mist Trail because of the winding around the mountain, so we opted to return the way we came. But I was content—and very proud of my troops!
There wasn’t a lot of conversation on the trail because it was so tiring, but I want to offer you some hiking tips.
We needed to avoid dehydration and heat exhaustion during our roughly 4 hour hike. To do this, we needed to drink plenty of water. I know there are energy drinks and Gatorades, etc. but water works best for the Lees family. The key is to drink often, rather than guzzle down water all at once. You may feel bloated when you drink a lot all at once. Pace yourself. And pace yourself when hiking the trail, too. Rest in the shade when you drink and eat salty snacks like salted nuts and pretzels to replace sodium lost through sweat. We found that water is available at the shuttle stop, but you should always carry water when you hike.
Stay on the trail! The rangers told us this daily whenever we visited the ranger station to check on a particular trail. You need to use caution whenever you’re near any flowing water or wet rock so as not to slip or fall into a swift current.
We stayed out of the wilderness section of Yosemite, for it is vast. You really need to know what you’re doing out there. We didn’t think the children, ages 12 to 19, were ready for it. Okay. It’s true. My husband and I didn’t think we were ready for it.
As with all hikes—especially into the wilderness—you pack in and you pack out. This means you need to carry everything you might require with you on the hike. Yes! It’s backpacking into the wilderness without road access or any outside assistance readily available. Even experienced backpackers shouldn’t go it alone. You need to take all trash—even biodegradable toilet paper—back out with you.
Thanks so much for stopping by Camping with Five Kids. Have you been to Yosemite? Please share any family vacations or hiking experiences you may have enjoyed.
We wish you every blessing and happy family memories in the New Year!