Onward and upward to Yosemite and on with the cold weather gear. We stayed at the Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite which is in fact outside the Park near the exquisitely named hamlet of Fish Camp. Set among tall trees, where even a communications tower was camouflaged to look like a tree, it was a great place to step off to Yosemite.
Despite the cold, it proved to be a really good time to visit the park. The snow melt was well underway and all the waterfalls were running furiously. The view over the valley at Tunnel View was spectacular against the vivid blue of the sky, opening up the vista of a huge glaciated valley with spectacular cliffs and huge rocks carried there in bygone ice ages and waterfalls descending from hanging valleys standing out against the grey of the rocks and the green of the trees. (Guess who was a geography teacher in a past life!) The Merced River runs down the middle of the valley.
The photos don’t do justice to the majesty and size of the valley. While the valley was crowded with people the day we visited – or seemingly so to us, though apparently nothing compared to the summer – people are really dwarfed by nature, both physically and in its timeliness. Spot Cherrie in left hand pic below against the size of the trees and the valley sides. Bridal Veil Falls (which is the one that can be seen in the Tunnel View photo at the top) is so fierce that it produces its own wind and temperature microclimate, with ‘mist’ and then ‘rain’ as you approach it. Thundering noise too.
The famous El Capitan had many climbers inching their way upwards the day we visited. Hard to spot with the naked eye and not visible on my photo, we took turns to look at some through a telescope. It was astonishing just how many were climbing. Some take days to do it – I can’t imagine being suspended up there at night.
I can’t really begin to describe the vegetation. The huge sequoias are just that – huge! Many other pines and firs are there too – lovely piney aroma all around from them. Many of the ponderosa pines are suffering a disease that causes them to die – bits fall off and then the tree may fall over. Apparently a big problem at the moment. Also parts of the park were extensively damaged by wildfire last year. Devastating to look at, and a huge problem where there are dwellings etc but fires have always been part of the landscape and needed for regeneration – so as we have in Australia there are planned burns in the off season to reduce the undergrowth now. The dogwoods were out and their splashes of cream decorated parts of the valley.
The native Americans had stories about the valley’s creation and it’s been a national park since 1890 in the modern era. These pics are of a pioneer centre where buildings from various parts of the park have been gathered together. I found the covered bridge interesting – I’d always though the cover was for people crossing it but apparently its there to help stop the bridge deteriorating in the weather.
It was chilly as you can see – but for the next stop we will need to de-layer! Death Valley – here we come!