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Yosemite is better hiking with my son

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POSTED July 13, 2010 2:25 a.m.
Josh had vague memories of Yosemite.

My son’s experience to arguably the crown jewel in America’s national park system occurred a few months shy of his 4th birthday during a 1999 family outing.

He could remember making the hike along the John Muir Trail, from Happy Isle to Vernal Falls.

Josh, who is fast approaching age 15, couldn’t recall the awe-inspiring work of Mother Nature outside of photographs.

However, he vividly remembered the terrible odor from the mule droppings along the series of switchbacks we took on our return trip down.

Isn’t it funny of the things that stick in the mind of a young child?

We made our first trip back to Yosemite this past weekend. This time we were part of a group consisting of nearly two dozen folks from Stockton and Manteca.

 Thanks to this year’s El Nino conditions in California – the results were a fruitful snowpack in the high country – we were treated to some spectacular waterfalls as seen from the valley floor at first glance.

Our journey kicked off at Curry Village, where we hoped aboard a shuttle bus to Happy Isle. From there, we were joined by what seemed to be hundreds more on this rather busy stretch of the hike leading to Vernal Falls.

Meanwhile, my son was unaware of the Mist Trail. Our last visit took place late in the season during what may have been a drought year. In other words, there was no mist on the Mist Trail along the climb up.

However, this time was remarkably quite different. We received a bit of a drenching on this part of the hike.

For some, the Mist Trail was quite refreshing, especially when you consider the physical workout of the climb coupled with the hot conditions on the valley floor.

Our group did have some first-time visitors to Yosemite, including Gina Merino and her husband, Juan. In the past year, the couple traveled to many popular destinations in the Golden State and Kentucky.

They were blown away by the beauty of Yosemite.

“Everywhere you look it’s like a post card,” said Gina as she observed her surroundings from atop the waterfalls.

For me, this hike was my first time to Nevada Falls. I’ve seen it from afar on numerous occasions, including the trek to Half Dome back in 1987.

This hike to Nevada Falls was every bit as special as the one to Half Dome because it involved my son.

A few months ago, we did a similar-type climb to Mount Diablo, where Josh and I broke away from the group to share the final leg to the top together.

As it turned out, we reached Nevada Falls together.

I’ll always cherish this moment.

At the same time, I’m relieved that my son now has better memories of Yosemite outside of the terrible smell of mule droppings on the dusty switchback trail.
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