On Monday Tammy and I hiked Mist Trail. The loop we hiked was about 5 miles total distance (I think), the first half of which follows the Merced River up to Vernal Falls. The Merced River is full from snow melt, so it is a raging torrent.
In the distance, we would occasionally catch a glimpse of some distant waterfall, whose water would eventually join the Merced River.
When we finally caught a glimpse of Vernal Falls, we felt like we were nearing the end of our hike. We were wrong - the adventure was just getting started.
As you approach Vernal Falls on Mist Trail, the trail turns into a staircase - steps carved out of granite. And the trail name comes from the fact that you will get a shower on the way up from all the mist. We wore raincoats to keep ourselves and our cameras dry.
Near the very top, you get a nice sideways view of the falls.
And then you get to conquer the last few steps. Heights stress me out, so my trip up the mist drenched granite steps to this point was mostly staring at the steps in front of me, and putting one foot in front of the other. I would occasionally stop to check on Tammy, convince myself yet again that I was not going to slip over the edge, catch my breath, and then resume the trek up. The last few steps to the top required a little extra mental preparation. Here is a photo looking back on those steps.
Here is a view from the top, showing the raging river, and distant section of the trail. If you look closely at the top of this next photo, you will see an even more distant portion of the trail, where it crosses the river via a bridge.
Beyond Vernal Falls, the trail continues up towards another set of falls - Nevada Falls. We took another trail that led us back to the valley floor (different from the route up) instead of climbing all the way to the top of Nevada Falls, but got a couple good views of those falls. And then one last look back towards Yosemite Valley before we descended.