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Yosemite Mist Trail- Clouds Rest- Merced River, CA
mini location map2019-05-22
22 by photographer avatarmckee80
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Yosemite Mist Trail- Clouds Rest- Merced River, CA 
Yosemite Mist Trail- Clouds Rest- Merced River, CA
Hiking avatar May 22 2019
Hiking17.30 Miles
Hiking17.30 Miles
38 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
In January, I found out I was going to have 5 free nights near Fresno in May. I found out that it wasn’t a good time to be doing what I wanted to do. I looked into Skyline to Sea and Henry Coe, but I really wanted to be in the mountains and I had the gear for it. The melt was going well and it was 70 and sunny in the valley leading up to my trip. Glacier Point Road opened up and we had an itinerary starting at Glacier Point to LYV and beyond. Then they started calling for a winter storm watch, then warning. So, that was a bummer. But my buddy had never been to Yosemite and I really love it there, so we figured we would lower expectations a bit and make the best of it.

Sat, May 18
We headed up 41 to the valley. I stopped to get a picture from Tunnel View (it is a sentimental place for my wife and I and I told her I would get a couple pictures we could stitch together for some wall art). Got pretty lucky everything wasn’t clouded over yet. And stopped at the Bridalveil turnout for a view of El Cap that I’m fond of.

We got to the backpackers campground and got set up right before the rain started. There were four groups there, I think. One group had about a dozen people with big coolers and bikes, which was confusing. I found out later that it was a group of volunteers working on one of the Pines campgrounds. With Glacier Point Road closed, we changed our permit to start at Happy Isles (there were only 15 spots left!). Oh, and I have to mention how surprised I was that they don’t price gouge beer in the village store. It was $0.99 - $1.29 a can!

Sun, May 19
It was raining in the morning, and it looked like it was going to stay that way. We decided to get going, more time to dry out in our tents at LYV. I saw a coyote, which was pretty cool. It’s a longer walk from the backpackers campground than I thought. It was around 8:30 and we didn’t see many people at all. In fact, we didn’t see another person until a solo hiker passed us on the footbridge. We had rain all the way up Vernal Falls. It wasn’t too bad, it had a different kind of feel to it with fog and mist and low clouds. We had the top to ourselves.

It started to snow as we made our way up Nevada Falls. We saw maybe 5 people. Then it really started to snow. It was really pretty, but I was getting a little nervous about the snow and ice collecting on the little mini stairs on the trail.

We got to LYV and there were a couple inches of snow. But then the sun came out and it was crazy how fast the snow melted. It was so cool how the trees were dropping snowballs everywhere.

Mon, May 20

It was absolutely beautiful in the morning. I just walked around with my camera and enjoyed the sun.

This was supposed to be the nicest day, so we headed up towards Clouds Rest. The trail was covered in snow starting at the junction with the JMT (7200 feet) at 9:00 ish. We headed up through the woods and the maybe 3-4 inches of snow. Around the quarter domes, it was 6-8 inches and very wet and slushy. Every step was accompanied by a half step slide back it seemed like. My microspikes were defeated, and in time, so was my spirit. My legs were rubber and I fell a couple times, so I called it right there. Still some pretty good views from there, but the clouds were getting lower. The snow was significantly melted on our way down, ending at around 7500 feet. We stayed in LYV again that night.

Tues, May 21

The next morning was fog and rain. We decided to hike out to Glacier Point and hope that things cleared up, at least for a little bit. Spoiler alert – that did not happen. We missed the turn for the Panorama Trail and went through the ice cut. I guess we didn’t look far enough ahead, so we got stuck clinging to the wall in the middle of it while a pack train came through. Luckily, we realized our mistake and got to go back through it. It was deep in places. You could keep your feet mostly dry with precision rock hopping. There were a couple trees down over the trail, including a huge one we had to bushwack around near Panorama Point. The “view” from Panorama Point was a disappointment. And we decided to turn around there. But the sun came out for about 5 minutes as we crossed back over Nevada Falls.

We decided to pack up and head up the Merced for the next two nights. The rain and snow hung overhead like we were in a peanuts cartoon. I love the idea of finding cool campsites, but in practice, I suck at it. And my incompetence was exacerbated by low visibility and reluctance to poke around too much in the rain. We ended up finding a previously used campsite right by where the trail washes out beneath what sounded like water coming off the cliffs. We got warm and dry in the tents and sat beneath the little tarp I brought (really came in handy), ate, had a little whiskey, and hit the sack.

Wed, May 22

Woke to a drop dead gorgeous scene. The sun came out, there was snow everywhere. We could see the cascades from the cliffs we heard the night before. I walked around in my last pair of dry socks, garbage bags, and crocs. Besides being stylish, they worked perfectly until I got cocky and crossed the stream in them. Apparently, I had created some holes in the bags wandering through the brush.

We had a leisurely morning, then headed up to Merced Lake on a day hike. This was actually the best weather day we had. It was sunny, and there was water EVERYWHERE. We saw two people at the cascades and that was it for the day. And for the first time this trip, we made it to our destination.

And, I was secretly hoping to see waterwheels, and I got to!

Thurs, May 23

We got up and moving early and got to the valley by noon. The “Ice Cut” is so cool in the spring. This video is from the second part of it. I was too busy getting soaked to film the first part (the waterfall in the background).

Those switchbacks down the JMT seemed like they would never end. We were re-introduced to the throngs at the footbridge. I talked with a guy who was there chaperoning a sixth grade field trip. I saw one woman come around the bend on the paved part and half whisper “oh my goodness”. It was cool to see everyone enjoying the scene, although there was a serious lack of trail manners. Made me glad we didn’t come down the Mist Trial.

I had some family stuff to do, then stopped by Kings Canyon on the way back to Fresno.

So, basically, those who said “don’t go” were right, and so were those who said “go anyway”. We had the gear to stay comfortable, and it was great to be out in the wilderness, but it would have been nice to catch a few more views. It was cool to get some experience in snow. Now I know what people are talking about with consolidated vs new snow and how that affects my hiking.
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