Last updated: July 25, 2014
On Wednesday, July 16, at approximately 6 pm, three 17 year-old males arrived at the Yosemite Medical Clinic seeking medical attention for injuries to their legs, ankles, and feet. The subjects all sustained their injuries while sliding down the Silver Apron, a large, sloping granite area that the Merced River flows over, located in between Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall, just east of Yosemite Valley, and which is a closed area. Moments later, two more 17-year-old males, unrelated to the previous group, walked into the clinic and, similarly, requested medical attention for lower extremity traumatic injuries caused by sliding down the Silver Apron.
Due to a language barrier, the exact details of how each of the five individuals hurt themselves are not known. One subject recounted entering the area and being surprised by how slippery the Silver Apron was, even where the granite was not wet. He further explained that when he started sliding down the Silver Apron, there was no way to slow down, let alone stop, before striking the pile of boulders and rocks at the base. The injuries sustained by the five subjects included lower leg and buttock abrasions, lower leg lacerations, and a sprained left ankle.
Every year at the Silver Apron, significant numbers of visitors are injured at the Silver Apron (read about several incidents in July 2013, as well as one from 1888). Visitors either deliberately slide down the wet slope and then crash into the unavoidable pile of rocks at the entry to Emerald Pool, or, before they even have a chance to start sliding, they slip and fall on the slick granite. Often, hikers suffer more traumatic injuries than those sustained by the subjects mentioned above. There appears to be a correlation between a drop in the flow of the Merced River and an increase in the number of visitors injured at the Silver Apron. Visitors hiking along the Mist Trail are strongly advised to stay on the trail and away from the Merced River between the Happy Isles Trailhead and Little Yosemite Valley, especially when the river level drops. The smooth, polished granite of the river bed, whether wet or dry, is extremely slick, and the currents of the river remain deceptively powerful.