Quest for a Historic Overlook

674 days ago by in Uncategorized

Growing up in California in the 1950s and 1960s, our family spent many wonderful summer vacations camping in Yosemite. I have many fond memories of all the adventures we had, but the details of one had me baffled. About two years ago, I came across a 35mm slide, taken in 1964, of me and my two sisters, Marlene and Jocelyn, posing at an overlook with Vernal and Nevada Falls in the background. I didn’t recognize the perspective, and none of us could recall where this shot was taken.

On our next annual trip to Yosemite from Ohio, my wife Ann and I decided to do some detective work to discover its location. We shared the slide image with several rangers, who hesitantly suggested that it might be somewhere on the John Muir Trail near Clark Point. We dutifully hiked up the JMT toward Nevada Fall, and discovered that the perspective was entirely wrong; we clearly needed to be on the other side of the Merced River canyon, but where? Further investigation revealed the answer: Sierra Point. The trail to Sierra Point was closed in the 1970s due to rock falls, but the old pipe railing was still clearly and tantalizingly visible far above the Happy Isles Trail. We learned that while the trailhead and some sections of the trail itself had been obliterated, it was still possible to make it to the top. My sisters and I decided that we should re-create that original photo, and our plan became reality last summer when we had a rare opportunity to be together in Yosemite. We started up the Happy Isles Trail, veered off at the “secret” trailhead to Sierra Point, and scrambled our way to the top. The trail was indeed steep and rough in places, totally missing in others, and thoroughly tested our resolve, but the view at the top was breathtaking! What a thrill to create new memories with my sisters of a hike we had originally completely almost 50 years ago!

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