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Yosemite Day 2: Sentinel Dome and Vernal and Nevada Falls

A solitary sunrise or a lack of it on Sentinel Dome and a beautiful afternoon hike up to Vernal and Nevada falls marked our second day in Yosemite.


Morning on Sentinel Dome

I stuck my head out of the tent way before dawn. We had decided the night before, we would repeat our trip up Sentinel Dome for the sunrise if conditions looked good. Up above between the trees, I could see a clear, star covered sky. It was a signal to go and we set out in the darkness to the trailhead. Only as we got closer, it became clear that I was peeking through possibly the only hole in an otherwise cloudy sky. It did not stop us from rushing on the trail to catch any interesting light the dawn and sunrise would provide. We got to enjoy a brief burst of color just as the sun rose behind the crest of the Sierra in the east, and a quiet morning on the Dome. Once the interesting light was gone, we drove down to Glacier Point and joined tour bus crowds there for a little bit.

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Dawn Paired in solitude First light Shooting the sunrise
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Rocks in sunrise red Landscape elements Piercing the clouds Yosemite view Reaching for the light Layers
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Lake on Sentinel Dome Finger of light Space Balanced rock
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Tree reflection Roman and Half Dome Little Yosemite Valley Slanted horizons
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Deer Glacier Point view BW pine with a view Pine with a view Misty Half Dome


Vernal Fall

After the chase of the sunrise on Sentinel Dome and a brief stop at Glacier Point, we packed up and drove down to the vallley where I had booked a camping spot two days earlier. So after lunch, we headed to the Upper Pinea campground s to set up our tent before our afternoon hike. A Yosemite Valley campground was unlike most national park camps. There was a ckeck-in booth at an entrance gate. I gave my name, they looked, shook their head, and said they could not find my reservation. I said - impossible - and handed them my phone with the email confirmation on the screen. They handed it back to me - come back in a month. Apparently, two dayes earlier, in a rush to secure the last remaining campsite, I had booked on my phone a campsite for October 12 instead of September 12! The guys accepted my goof-up with a smile, and we were offered to put our names down on a waiting list, which we did. We never checked back and instead headed up on a hike to Vernal and Nevada Falls. We reached Vernal Fall quickly, going up the stairs of the Mist Trail. Even though the water level in Merced River was nothing like when I saw the fall three years earlier, this place is a sight to behold in any conditions.

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Sizing up Vernal Fall Vernal Fall Water and rock Rainbow Veil
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Waterfall edge Water slide above Emerald Pool Weathered rock


Nevada Fall

After exploring the area around Emerald Pool just above Vernal Fall, we continued up on a trail that zigzags to the left of Nevada Fall. The waterfall, at almost 600ft tall, is arguably even more impressive than Vernal Fall that drops just over 300ft.

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Pennsylvania on travel? Footbridge and Liberty Cap BW Nevada Fall Nevada Fall Mist Trail Life on a rock
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Taller? Liberty Cap BW Liberty Cap Above Nevada Fall Mouth of the fall
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Footbridge Life on the edge Railing A balcony with a view


Nevada Fall to the valley on John Muir Trail

From Nevada Fall we descended back to the valley on a section of John Muir Trail. The sun was approaching sunset and we were treated to spectacular views of of Nevada Fall, Liberty Dome, and Half Dome. Speaking of which, we passed a few giddy hikers coming down from Half Dome - some other time...

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Improbable trees Granite Rock intersections Half Dome
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Liberty Cap Nevada Fall, Liberty Cap and Half Dome Slit Gap On John Muir Trail


Last updated: February 23, 2013
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