Half Dome: Nevada Falls and Little Yosemite Valley

You can read part one of our trip up half dome here.

The two trails up Half Dome split at the top of Vernal Falls. The Mist trail takes a short detour to the top of Nevada Falls (adding a little distance on to the journey), whereas the John Muir trail is a more direct route. We never want to miss anything (especially as it takes so much effort to climb Half Dome!) so each time we have taken the Mist Trail.

It’s about a 2 mile hike from Vernal Falls to Nevada Falls, characterised by switchbacks and some rocky pathways through a forest area. The sunlight weaving through the trees and the light reflecting off the water at the bottom of Vernal Falls created beautiful little rainbows in the mist.

The top of Nevada Falls is a beautiful place to sit and chill, having gained an extra 1000ft above Vernal Falls, taking us to a total height of 6000ft above sea level. On our first trip, this was as far as we got. We’d set off far too late in the day and didn’t really want to hike in the dark, so we chose to stop at Nevada Falls, spend some time exploring and then headed back down the trail.

One of my best memories of that particular trip was taking off our shoes and socks and paddling in the calm water of the Merced River before the waterfall. It was a perfect way to refresh ourselves after the steep climb!

Our subsequent trips have seen us hiking much further up the trail. Leaving Nevada Falls behind, Little Yosemite Valley is a much flatter part of the hike. Surrounded by trees, it offers some welcome shade from the blistering heat. I loved the surroundings here; the sounds of the forest and the smell of the trees. The scent was almost overwhelming and it makes me think of adventure every time I smell it. This was a stunning walk with glimpses of Half Dome through the trees.

Little Yosemite Campground was a big milestone for me – I hadn’t expected to make it that far!! If I was to do the trail again, I would definitely consider camping at this campground to acclimatise to the altitude and rest up before attempting the climb to the top of Half Dome.

The Mountains are calling and I must go

– John Muir

Clearing Out the Cobwebs At Malham Cove

An hour and a half’s drive from Manchester led us to Malham, a small village with a huge rock cove and beautiful views.

Stocking up on Kendal Mint Cake and Snickers, we set off on the 8km round trip from the village to Malham Cove, stopping at Janet’s Foss and Gordale Scar on the way. Blessed with beautiful weather and just the right amount of breeze, it was a beautiful walk with a mix of fields, forest and cliffs to satisfy my adventurous nature.

Janet’s Foss is a small waterfall, which pours into a lush green forest-like setting. Legend has it that a small fairy lives in the cave beyond the waterfall – I thought that Janet wasn’t a very fairy-like name but who am I to judge!? The forest on the way to the Foss was dense and created a mysterious atmosphere, with our conversations echoing around us.

A short trip up the trail led to Gordale Scar – a rocky, waterfall area which was mostly dried up, except for small rock pools and a light waterfall.

Two very brave guys were climbing the rock cliffs – one sensible guy with a rope and one less sensible guy who had a rope that wasn’t hooked up to anything! Very impressive to watch but not something I am brave enough to do! Still we spent some time amongst the lower cliff face, climbing through rock pools and scrambling up the cliff side to a small waterfall at the top.

Doubling back along the path, we followed the trail up to the top of Malham Cove. Here the broken rock stood tall, making crevices and stepping stone pathways reminiscent of an otherworldly terrain.

I’d started the day grumpy and frustrated with a lack of travel recently, however the fresh air and sense of movement really changed how I felt and by the time I was heading back down the cliff, my sense of adventure had returned.