The Merced River from Happy Isles, Yosemite Valley

The Merced River at Happy Isles

It may look as if crossing the river here would plunge you into the sort of grim and spectral wood from which eldritch tales of wolves and warlocks are born, but in fact, the Mist Trail is just the other side of the line of trees, and the shadows you see flickering past will be hikers on their way to see Vernal Fall. Though the Mist Trail, should you enjoy musing about such things, is no stranger to the sorts of elements found in stories of the gothic or fantastical: stone stairways, rainbow-topped vernal pools, perilous cliff edges, torrent-spanning bridges, forgotten side paths buried by rockfall, treacherous currents that have been the death of many an unwary traveler - all these are within the bourn of those who choose to climb the trail of mist. It's a wonder, come to think of it, that anyone ever tries. Luckily you're at Happy Isles, the chillest of Yosemite hikes, and you don't need to worry about any of this. If the Mist Trail denizens are Frodos volunteering for a suicidal mission despite being less qualified than whichever of the more intelligent rocks you care to pick out of the above photo, then you're from the clan of immortal elf warriors who sent Frodo off with a cheery wave and a few shroom-infused energy bars because you needed to attend to affairs at your elf Xanadu for inscrutable but important reasons that non-elves wouldn't understand. Fair? Maybe not, but part of being a leader is making those hairy little hobbits look good while you're making the real sacrifices, and you won't live to be a thousand and acquire the kind of management experience society needs by getting your own fingers gnawed off, so you'll just have to wear it.