From Taft Point we made our way to the Mist Trail. A well traveled paved path that makes up the start of the trek to Half Dome, the Mist Trail has a mildly hidden gem just 2.5 miles in. Vernal Falls is a smaller waterfall in the park and the lower of a pair (the other half being Nevada Falls). From the trail you can see the by now meager trickle of water tumbling down in a fine mist across a granite wall stained with the torrent of a fuller current. Divert off the path toward the falls and over a small ridge of mist slicked boulders and you'll come to a small pool at the base of the falls. This pool seems almost tailor made for diving and swimming. Just opposite the narrow band of falling mist is a large boulder just shy of 20 feet high that juts out into the pool like a diving platform. It was probably in the low 50s and the water was maybe low 40s. It was going to be a shock of cold. I took a good 15 minutes to muster up the courage (with the aid of the bourbon in my flask) to strip and make the jump. For just a second the low roar of the crashing water faded to a soft hum and I floated frozen in the cold air with just the green blue expanse suspended below my feet. Then I broke the surface and thousands of icy needles stabbed my skin and my brain before I swam frantically back to shore. It was amazing.
After we had all made the leap, we were too cold and wet to do anymore hiking. We made our way back to Curry Village, but it began to rain. We made a gametime decision to just head back to LA that evening. A combination of inclement weather and ailments made for a fairly abridged trip to Yosemite, but it was still incredible. I definitely need to go back. Anyone up for Half Dome next time?