June 22, 2013. Met up with my friend Danny Francis to hike the Panorama Trail (8.5 miles) with my stepson Anthony (15) who had never been to Yosemite. Unsure of his hiking abilities we decided to take the shuttle up to Glacier Pt. and do the Panorama Trail down to Curry Village and back to our Tent Camp where we had spent the previous night. After a long bus ride up we finally started our hike around 10 am. Anthony was inspired by the views including Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and all the rest. After checking our supplies and taking a layer off our upper bodies (cool morning) we headed off at a brisk pace.
For anyone who wants to pick a first hike to do at Yosemite I highly recommend starting with this route. Although I had hiked this trail decades ago, I had forgotten what a great trail it is as it offers so many different views of the Yosemite Valley and the surrounding mountains. Between Danny and I, we have done dozens of hikes in Yosemite including several hikes to Half Dome, Clouds Rest, Yosemite Falls, El Capitan, and many more. None offer a more varied and expansive look at Yosemite like the Panorama Trail.
Any doubts about the fitness of my 15 year old were quickly forgotten and Anthony left us in his dust. At 65 and 56 years old, Danny and I, pushed to keep up which wasn't so difficult, as the camera was in the hands of Anthony who was stopping at most every vantage point. The first real point of interest was Illilouette Falls which is about 2 miles into the hike and mostly all downhill. After crossing over the river near the top of the falls our next point of interest was Panorama Point, a now unmarked trail/spot we were determined to find. As we started the uphill climb to this next stop we knew from the profile maps approximately how far we had to go, and, luckily we guessed right as a wide opening between some manzanita looked like a old trail. Sure enough about 100 yards up we found the old ledge that was "Panorama Point" it was marked by the remains of some old guardrails, and a US Geological Survey marker. The views looking at Half Dome and the valley below from here were fantastic!
Next we moved on and up knowing the next view and point of interest would be Nevada Falls. After reaching a high point we saw the falls, and started down, this time rather slowly as there was much loose gravel and some very uneven rocky spots to deal with. Now about 3 1/2 miles in, we started to see the first signs of other hikers' which was expected as we weren't far from the convergence of several other trails. After lunch near a ledge not far from Nevada Falls, and some necessary pics (amazing views of Liberty Cap, Half Dome, North Dome, etc), we started toward Vernal Falls and the Mist Trail. Now we had some company, but it really isn't bad in June compared to later in the summer. Anthony was in awe of Nevada Falls, and once he saw Vernal Falls, and we started down the Mist Trail, be really started to comprehend and understand what he was doing and how beautiful Yosemite really is. After some cooling mist, and an unending line of people coming up the Mist Trail, we managed our way through the crowds to the bottom of the falls, more pics, then across the bridge for another quick break.
The rest of the trek was nice and interesting, but, no bears like we had seen the previous day at Mirror Lake. We hit the bottom of this trek in about 3.5 hours not bad for a couple of older guys. The trail profile lists the time at 4.5 to 7 hours. Of course we couldn't let Anthony think we weren't still the studs' he idolizes.