Sunday, May 29, 2011


We high-tailed it out of town on Thursday afternoon in an attempt to beat the holiday traffic on our way up to Yosemite. Of course, there's no getting around L.A. traffic... It turned our 5 hour trip into a 6.5 hour journey. Upon arrival, we figured out it was well worth the wait. It was 43 degrees when we arrived at the Tenaya Lodge. The valet attendants had two fires burning to warm us as we jumped out of the car. The air smelled lovely - all piney and fresh!

We were really fortunate to plan our trip when we did. Yosemite had experienced an unprecedented winter. Record snowfalls and the subsequent melt had produced raging waterfalls - the likes of which had not been seen in a generation. Everyone we met talked excitedly about the beauty we were going to experience the following morning.

Our lodge was one mile from the south entrance of Yosemite. The closest attraction to the South Entrance is the Mariposa Grove- giant Sequoia trees for as far as the eye could see. The photo above is of the girls on a fallen Sequoia. I had no idea that Sequoia trees need fire to reproduce - once we learned that fact, it explained why so many of the trees had char marks on their massive trunks. I have to hunt down James' photos of the Grove because my photos didn't turn out great - I was messing around too much with the settings on my camera and most were overexposed...

After a 2 mile hike through the Grove, we backtracked to the South entrance and made our way into the heart of the park along Wawona Road. We pulled off the side of the road about 7 miles in when we saw this small waterfall:

Last year, this would have been a small trickle of water along Alder Creek. It was our first indication that what everyone had been saying was true - we were in for some beautiful sightings! Also, the Park Service announced that (Friday) morning that Glacier Ridge Road, usually closed from early October until early June, was going to open at noon. We passed about 50 cars lined up at the gate to road around 10:30AM and decided to hit Glacier Ridge on our way back out of the park. We continued on the Wawona Road toward Yosemite Valley - the heart of the National Park.

Our next stop was Inspiration Point. It is a massive granite outcrop that (if you hop over the wall and climb down some smaller rocks) offers an impressive view of the Yosemite Valley. At this stop, we found out that Josie LOVES rock climbing! I would never have guessed - she is soooo NOT our daredevil child!!

On the rocks at Inspiration Point

On the right is Bridal Veil Falls, on the left Half Dome and El Capitan.

Another view from Inspiration Point

We went through a tunnel that connected the Wawona Road (Rt.41) to the Southside Drive. As soon as you exit the tunnel there is another viewing area. Breathtaking is the only word I can use and it seems an understatement...

Here, it looks like Josie is propped up against a fake background! It was just so beautiful!

I thought this shot offered a bit of perspective... How incredible is this view?!

We made our way into Yosemite Village to park the car and take the hike up to the Lower Yosemite Falls. (1 mile loop) We found the wildlife to be quite at home in the village:

Seems even the deer know to use the crosswalks!

Yosemite Falls was raging!! You could hear and feel the rumble of the water hitting the rocks long before getting near.

We took quite a few photos at the base of the falls, but the spray was overwhelming - my camera was nearly soaked! After viewing the Falls, drying off and grabbing a light lunch we headed back toward the South Entrance with a planned stop at Glacier Point. ( We didn't know it until late Saturday, but we truly were very, very lucky to get up to Glacier Point - the park rangers closed Glacier Point Road on Friday night and it didn't reopen... Snow was falling on Saturday night and as we left on Sunday morning!)

Taken from Washburn Point (elev. ~6700ft)

Washburn Point

We finally made it to Glacier Point (elev. 7214 FT):

Yosemite Valley floor as seen from Glacier Point

There was still about 8-10 feet of snow on the side of Glacier Point Road as we made our way back down and headed home - it was about 7PM and we had a really full day!

On Saturday, our pace was much slower. The traffic in the park had increased about ten-fold due to the holiday visitors. We planned to take the gentle hike to Mirror Lake/meadow and then have lunch at the beautiful Ahwahnee Hotel. Again, because of the record snowfall and melt, Mirror Lake was not offering reflective views. The usually still and slow moving waters were raging - but it was a beautiful sight.

Here, my Daredevils return from climbing a rock... James does not set a good example!

And finally, just a few shots taken while we were waiting to be seated for lunch: (the weather turned quite chilly and windy soon after... glad I took these while the weather was still nice)

Yosemite Falls from the Ahwahnee Hotel

As I mentioned above, it was snowing when we left our hotel at 7:30 this morning. When we pulled in the driveway here around 1PM it was 70 degrees and sunny. Just a small indication of how incredibly diverse the geography of California is. Until next time... :-)

1 comment:

  1. Gorgeous, Michele! Yosemite is one of the few parks, we haven't been to yet. It's on our list for sure. You captured the landscape beautifully!

    Glad you were able to drive the Glacier Point Road. We had the same experience in Glacier National Park with the "Going to the Sun Road". It opened the day after we arrived and closed the day after we drove it! We were lucky to have that window of opportunity to take the drive.

    We live in such a beautiful country!