On Saturday, I woke up to give my dutch oven breakfast dreams another try. With the sausage already cooked, it was very easy to layer everything while the coals were getting hot. I followed this recipe, but halved everything except the biscuits. What was a going to do with a half a can of unused biscuits anyway? The oven wasn’t pre-warmed since I placed it directly on the coals while already full of the ingredients, but it still only took about 50 minutes until the biscuits were nice and golden.
Victory! It was delicious and I easily reheated it that evening and the next morning using a small skillet on my gas stove. Even with halving the recipe, it still was a lot of food. I just finished off the leftovers yesterday.
Shortly before 10, I started out from my campsite to the Mist Trail to see Vernal and Nevada Falls again (the trailhead is very close to the Pines Campgrounds). I patched my blisters up with gauze padding, moleskin, and duct tape, then just hoped for the best. It was a painful hike, but you cannot keep me away from waterfalls! When I last saw the falls in November, they were impressive, but nothing compared to their April flow. I couldn’t believe the difference.
April:Since I got such a late start, there were already a lot of people on the trail headed up to the top of Vernal Falls. There was a thick sheet of mist and the stairs are steep and slippery, so people were in a long line moving slowly and carefully up to the top. A douchebag couple decided that they needed to be at the top more quickly than the rest of us, and started pushing past people. These stairs require a lot of care because they are really only wide enough for one person, but since people are going up and down at the same time, you need to stop at times to move over so people can pass coming from the opposite direction. It is the minimally decent thing to do.
This couple felt differently, and ended up knocking over a couple that was behind me which in turn caused me to partially fall. I caught myself before I my face hit a step, but my shin took the full force of the fall against a step. So, in addition to my blisters, I then had a giant bruised lump adding to my walking misery. THANKS, DICKHEADS. Several of us ended up having WORDS with them.
Do not go on the most popular hike in Yosemite if you are in a hurry. That is not anyone’s problem but your own. I eventually made it to the top and enjoyed an up close view (behind a railing) of the waterfall.
There were a ton of people at the top of Vernal, so I quickly walked on to the bottom of Nevada Fall to check it out. The crowd thins out significantly after the top of Vernal Falls, so I highly recommend continuing up the trail to escape the humans.
I sat on the top for about 30 minutes eating my sandwiches, resting, and re-doing my blister bandages. It was 50 degrees and a crystal clear day. I could not have asked for better weather.
The John Muir Trail is an alternate route that you can take back that detours around the Vernal Falls stairs. Since I was not looking forward to fighting my way back down steep and slippery steps, I decided to give it a go. It was spectacular!!! I had no idea. Look at these views! And it was way easier on the ol’ knees!
As I walking down a series of switchbacks, I turned a corner and saw what I thought was a dog on the trail. I got really excited because YAY DOGS, but then realized that the seeing a dog wandering around in Yosemite did not make much sense. I then figured out that I was looking at a bear. I was THRILLED. I could not believe it. I am so scared of bears, but I had to remind myself to back up and not startle it. Here is a blurry picture I took while I was hiding behind a tree. I am not zoomed in, he was that close!
I started to back farther up the trail, but the bear started walking up the space between the two parts of the trail, so I stayed put at the corner of the switchback. It spent about 30 minutes close enough to both parts of the trail that I did not feel like it was safe to proceed in either direction. So, I just hung out and watched. Eventually, a few other people made their way down the trail (they did not see it or understand that I was frantically waving and saying bear), so I was not alone for long. You can watch the two videos of him here on my Instagram post:
If it had been a grizzly or brown bear, then I would have totally had a panic attack and probably died from fear. While black bears can certainly injure or kill a human, they are predominantly non-aggressive herbivores. I reported his tag number to a ranger after I got down, and he told me that people typically get hurt by black bears because they are way too close, they get between a bear and her cubs, or they scare the bear. He assured me that if a black bear attacks and you hit back at them, then they will run off scared 99% of the time. He said that he has seen squirrels scare them! I would love to see that. He also called them “the Canadians of bears” because they just want to “enjoy their snacks and avoid confrontation.”
Anyway, I stayed as far away as I could, but was stuck on that part of the trail. He eventually wandered off, but I am so happy I got to have a positive bear watching experience. It was SO FLUFFY. I absolutely do not want to see any bears when we are in Montana, Wyoming, or Alberta this summer. NOPE. These images haunt my nightmares:
I continued making my way down the trail where I got to enjoy a spectacular view of Yosemite Falls again!
In total, it was about 10 miles round trip and took me almost six hours. It is such a spectacular hike and I definitely recommend it to anyone visiting. Just get started early and take the John Muir Trail back for extra goregeous views!
I spent the evening reading by the fire at my campsite. I woke up early on Sunday on spent a couple of hours just driving around the park enjoying some final scenic views before heading back home.
Since several people have asked, I am planning to get a post up next week about the things I have learned about visiting Yosemite, where to stay, places to visit, and the best spots I have found for photos. I hope it is in some way hopeful. If you have specific questions, then please let me know in the comments!