The Mist Trail is one of Yosemite National Park’s most popular paths. People crowd the steep steps, especially on hot summer days, to feel refreshing mist from Vernal Falls.
However, it’s not the only place people want to cool off. Further up from the mist, there’s inviting water within reach. While it’s fine to be in it, many don’t realize there’s also a dangerous current within reach of the safe area.
“We can be feet away — inches even — from a quick moving current and not treat it the same as a cliff edge,” said park ranger Katie Mullen.
Mullen is part of Yosemite’s preventive search and rescue, or PSAR. She and other PSAR park rangers try to prevent search and rescue situations through education.
Going back to the seemingly harmless pool of water. There’s a clear white stream, a strong current, ready to take you or a loved one, right over Vernal Fall.
“Most of us would get very cautious and nervous being at the edge of the cliff,” said Mullen. “I think because we swim in water, we bath in water, we drink water — we don’t have that same response to swift water.”
Another hotspot where PSAR park rangers prevent tragedies along Mist Trail is at Emerald Pool. There’s clear signage there’s no swimming allowed in it, but many visitors can be seen right by the fast water.
Of course, like any other trail, the general hiking do’s and don’ts apply.
“Whether you’re hiking on the mist trail, just out for a couple hour day hike, or whether you’re going on a longer expedition like us to the top of half dome — think about the things that you’re going to need to have a safe and enjoyable experience,” said park ranger Jamie Richards.