The Merced River flows 145 miles from its headwaters in the Clark Range down into the Central Valley. Even though we would only see about fifteen miles of its course, we would see the wildest, most pristine parts. Here, it flows into the sub-alpine Merced Lake before cascading through the granite canyons of the Echo, Lost, and Little Yosemite Valleys. From there it drops down Nevada and Vernal Falls, past Happy Isles and into Yosemite Valley proper. This most dramatic section of the river is the part we visited.
Garrapata State Park, just south of Carmel, is a great place to see wildflowers in the spring. On Wednesday, I went out with a few coworker friends, George and Moselle, to check out the displays. Needless to say, we were impressed.
Sometimes you’ve got to spend months planning an attack on a peak. Sometimes it takes researching trip reports, studying maps, and scouting out routes before you’ll feel confident enough to climb a peak. Sometimes you’ve got to wait days for the right weather and avalanche conditions before it’s safe to summit. Sometimes, though, you climb a peak on a whim.
The Upper Yosemite Falls trail is the quintessential Yosemite trail. It’s got steep gradients, big waterfalls, cliff overlooks, and views of the high country. It’s also one of the most crowded trails in the park, but if you get up early enough in the Winter or Spring, you can usually get some alone time near the top. Early morning is also the best way to avoid an overbearing sun on the last few switchbacks.