Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Yosemite Waterfalls – Hiking to Top of Vernal Falls in Yosemite National Park. The Mist Trail. Trip Report

Yosemite Waterfall. Vernal Falls with Rainbow.
Photo credit: Annie Yearout

Length: @ 2.5 miles RT to top of Vernal Falls
Location: The Mist Trailhead, southeast side of Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park
Level of Difficulty: Strenuous
Exposure: Sun, shade & water spray
Kid Friendly? Recommend 9 years old and older. Children MUST be able to follow directions, step cautiously, control impulses – dangerous, slippery exposures on this trail.
Best time to visit? Spring time run-off. Get ready to get wet! A warm day is ideal. Hike early - avoid the crowds.
What to Wear: Quick dry-clothing or bring a rain slicker.
Video: Vernal Falls - Outdoorsy Mama Mini Video

We pack up the kids for spring break and toss them in The Beast. Time for some giant rocks and big water in the bursting Spring run-off of Yosemite National Park. Destination: Vernal Falls on the southeast side of the park.

We find the parking area just past Curry Village & hike the short, flat walk - or you can take a quick bus-ride - to the Mist Trailhead. 
The raging Tenaya Creek at the Vernal Falls Footbridge

The trail begins with a slow, steady incline that is even stroller friendly - we saw someone doing just that - which ends at the Vernal Falls Footbridge @ .8 miles in. 

This is when the real fun starts and the kids start looking at me - Mommmmmm, what did you get us into? A gorgeous staircase of grey slabs hug the right side of the valley. Up, up, up we climb into the roar of the 317 foot Vernal Falls. 
The mist of Vernal Falls.
Photo credit: Annie Yearout
And then we get wet. The massive spray from the falls creates a cold, steam-room of mist all around us. And it's fun - exhilarating! The five of us are wide-eyed - looking at each other: Can you believe this? Prepare to get wet.
Wet from the mist!

Continuing up the trail, we pass through and out of the misty section and head onward, feeling spritzed & a little surprised at the unusual experience, and eager to get to the top. The grand finale is a tight, extremely precarious section with handrails, squeezing against the side of the mountain.

Summiting, we head straight to the top of the falls and look down. And down. To our right, swirls the inviting Emerald Pool. But don't take a dip - the water has swept too many unsuspecting hikers away. We warn the kids to be smart, stay close. This hike is as much an exercise about safety and thoughtful body organization as it is about just enjoying a gorgeous day in Yosemite.
Top of Vernal Falls

The reward is huge. A giant, sunny slab of granite to eat our snack on & dry out. The view down Tenaya Creek. And the kids jazzed by the experience - Mom, that was one of the COOLEST things I've ever done. 

To get to the top was a physical challenge and the added surprise and bonus of the unusual mist and scary exposures carried out with confident caution made them feel like a million bucks. We can't wait to do it again.

Be. Breathe. Do it! -OM

Disclaimer: Again, the hike to the top is NOT for young children! (Younger kids can hike to the footbridge then turn around.) Recommend kids 9 and up who are well behaved, listen to instructions and have experience in the elements. Have fun and stay safe.

More fun information:
Map of Yosemite Hiking Trails
National Park Service Vernal Falls Trail
Yosemite Valley on Bikes
Visit Glacier Point in Yosemite
Have you had your daily dose of Nature today? The Nature Prescription


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Urban Hiking in New York City: The High Line. New York City’s Answer to #GetOutside & Nature from Three Stories High

Springtime in New York City on the High Line 
Length: @ 3 miles Round Trip

Location: West Side, Manhattan, New York City
Level of Difficulty: Easy - flat
Exposure: Full sun
Dogs: Leave ‘em at home
Highlights: Surprising peek-a-boo views of Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, "hiking/walking" 3 stories up from a NYC street



High Line Map
Heading to NYC to visit my little sis, I knew I needed to pack an assortment of black clothes, some heels for a change, and maybe pack a little more of an attitude.

But one thing for sure, I knew I would also pack my sneaks. Because, for sure, I'd still need to Get Outside to stretch my legs and for my daily fix of some therapeutic fresh air. 

Enter the "new since June 2011" fantastically cool High Line -- a renovated New York City Park/trail stretching 1.5 miles and 3 floors up and over city streets -- built on the historic raised freight line once used to deliver goods from hood to hood in West Side of Manhattan. 


Peek-a-boo views of Empire State Bldg
On one end, in the trendy Meatpacking District, you can admire the unique plantings lining and interrupting the trail - nature! - you can look down on the smashing DVF and glitzy shops and cafes, and you can, if you happen to look ahead during the correct footstep, catch a glimpse of the most famous and well dressed lady in the world... the glamorous Statue of Liberty.

On the other end, as you walk North towards W 34th Street, you'll get a peek at the Empire State Building on your right, and a fascinating maze and zazzle of plantings, shrubbery, trees, art installations, architecture and, of course, what NYC is know best for, the terrifying yet curious species we all can't get enough of: New Yorkers.


Green plants of every variety dot the trail.
But thanks to some of these super persistent and forward-thinking New Yorkers (probably the same ones who stole my taxi cab the other day), this raised line was saved from obliteration and then transformed into a pocket of Nature. 

So, leave your pooches at home - no tinkling on the plants. Bring your cameras, your sense of wonder, your joy that we've found some greenery and movement in a slightly grey space. 

Be. Breathe. Hike it. -OM

For more cool info:
Map of the High Line
FAQ about the High Line
Hiking with Kids - 3 ways to get them up the mountain 
Hiking Zion National Park - A day in the park