[Yosemite National Park, CA]
We entered the park from a different entrance today, from the West at Highway 140. Immediately we were greeted by massive granite rocks towering above us. Weaving through the valley, we passed several of the falls Yosemite is famous for – the 620-ft Bridalveil Fall and the 2500-ft Yosemite Falls, 5th highest in the world.
On the agenda today was a tour to Glacier Point via bus. The ride up was steep and treacherous at times, so I was glad we weren’t driving. We even got to see a coyote that had been feed by humans and now lingered in a parking lot, hoping for his luck to repeat.
We passed by Bridalveil Falls again, and went by El Capitan – a vertical formation over 3000 ft tall. I would have thought it takes over 5 hours to climb that big boy, but the current records astounded me – just under 2.5 hours!
We also went by other rock formations that the park is famous for such as Sentinel, and the Cathedral range. When we finally got to Glacier Point, the clouds were low and it had started to rain ever so slightly. Glacier Point is an overlook that provides magnificent views of the famous Half Dome, the most famous rock formation at the park. Rising 8000 ft above sea level, Half Dome was half gone when we got there.The clouds were getting ready to completely envelop the rock, but we managed to get some photos of it. To the left of it, Yosemite Valley was sprawled out in all of its splendor, and to the right, we got great views of Nevada and Vernal Falls.
On our way back down, we stopped at Tunnel View – the most photographed spot in the park. From this lookout point with the Yosemite Valley in the middle, we got awesome views of El Capitan, and Bridalveil Falls.
Looking back of the my photos, I think they hardly do the park justice. I have never seen such amazing rock formations in my life, and I felt like a little ant crawling among giants. I couldn’t imagine the forces of nature that created this beauty. We learned on our tour that even today, the Yosemite landscape changes constantly due to rock slides. Some of those occur naturally, but even a climber loosening up a fist-sized rock can trigger rock slides that vastly change the landscape.
Yosemite is the place where the idea of national parks originated. In 1864, then-president Lincoln granted it to California and it became a state park. This legislation was vastly copied to name Yellowstone a national park simply because at the time, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana were just territories and there was no state to grant the park to. The foresight it took to preserve this place back in the mid-19th century, while my own country was just emerging from the darkness of 500 years under foreign rule, was just astounding to us, and also made us a little sad.
I can’t wait to come back to Yosemite and explore more on foot and bike. From the valley floor to the Tuolume meadows to the various trails around the numerous water falls, Yosemite’s wonders are now permanently on my travel list.
We had a long drive to our hotel near Napa, our next stop. But we didn’t really feel the 3.5 hours go by. As we were leaving the Sierra Nevada, we passed some amazingly beautiful landscapes and at the end, we were rewarded with one of the most amazing sunsets we had ever seen. This was quite the proper ending to our visit in one of the most uniquely beautiful places on Earth.