Readers React: Above Yosemite’s Vernal Fall, danger lurks beneath waters that appear calm on the surface

A wedding couple is seen being photographed at Taft Point in Yosemite National Park.
(Amanda Lee Myers / Associated Press)

To the editor: John McKinney does a good job of underscoring the risks of hiking in the wilderness. However, he misses the mark in referencing the danger of entering waters above waterfalls in Yosemite.

Referring to the deaths of three people at Yosemite’s Vernal Fall, McKinney writes that his “head cannot comprehend the decision of the three hikers to step past the guardrail at the top of the falls and into the raging waters.”

Unfortunately, those waters often do not appear to be anywhere near raging. In fact, the waters can appear to be remarkably still and calm on the surface, but there is a strong undercurrent that can sweep a person off slippery rocks and over the falls.

As a Sierra Club hike leader who has been to Vernal Fall several times, I know that it’s highly unlikely a hiker would step past guardrails and enter “raging” waters above the falls.


Bill Simpson, Santa Monica

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