After first seeing this posting, I could hardly wait to get back to Yosemite Valley to locate the old Sierra Point Trail. Imagine, following in the footsteps of young Ansel on his first visit! I had noticed the trail on my old USGS 1:24,000 Yosemite Valley Topo but I never took the time to hunt for it. Since we were camped nearby in the upper loop of Upper Pines Campground, it was only a short walk to the trailhead area. After exploring a couple of options to make a connection from the Vernal Fall Trail, I started from the recommended reference point. It turned out I stayed a little too far to the south and ended up on a cross-country route that paralleled the actual trail, eventually hitting the main trail at the top of the last chute I climbed out of. From here, it was a straightforward but exhilarating climb and traverse to Sierra Point itself, especially since I could watch the Valley and Glacier Point progressively light up as I zigged and zagged upward. Adding to the sense of discovery was seeing no fresh boot prints, perhaps since it rained off and on all day Monday.
Sierra Point itself provides a remarkable vantage point, even better than I expected. The morning light favored views to the west but Vernal and Nevada Falls were still spectacular, especially where the mists of Mist Trail were backlit by the sun. The old railing appears to be “rock solid” so it was relatively comfortable to look out over each side. I thought the view from the boulders above was even better than from the “official” point. There is no railing up there, though, so watch your step near the edge.
On the way down, I followed the trail all the way to the lower rockslide area and found what I think is a better access point. Try heading south (upstream) about 46 paces along the main Vernal Fall trail from the large High Sierra Loop Trail mileage sign. There is some easy climbing involved getting through the boulders but you end up connecting directly to the lowest remaining portion of the original trail.
To experience complementary views to those I enjoyed Wednesday morning, I returned for a second visit on Thursday afternoon, arriving at the point guardrail at 6:00 pm. Since I was familiar with the terrain and could skip the cross-country stretch, it only took 20 minutes end-to-end this time. As anticipated, the view to the east was absolutely spectacular and with a bonus treat of getting to watch the late afternoon shadows stretch out across the Valley. Thanks for this superb introduction to one of Yosemite’s secret jewels.
-Gecko Dad, San Diego
[This entry was edited by Team Gecko on Thursday, August 25, 2005 at 11:35:44 PM.]