Part 1 is here - where my travels into Yosemite began.
After looking at the fire marked trees in the area I found between Southside Drive and the Merced River. I drove a little further and came upon a sign for a picnic area - with restroom. Seeing an opportunity to have a snack and use the facilities, I took the turnoff onto the gravel road. Only a few people were picnicking, as I drove along the roadway. I parked near where it began to circle back, near the pit toilets. After using the facility, I noticed a slightly overgrown sandy path into the woods, and decided to follow it. The sandy floor gave way to a pine needle covered path, shaded by deciduous and tall pine trees. Soon to my right the trees opened to reveal views of the river and mountains.
|Path into the woods|
|Looking out from the small beach to the North-east|
|Looking out from the small beach to North-west. One of my favorite views in Yosemite Valley|
|Gravel Beach along the Merced River|
|Lower Yosemite Falls|
|Plenty of People visiting Lower Yosemite Falls|
Though I enjoyed the easy walk to the Lower Falls, the amount of tourists caused me not to stay very long. Rather than hike back the way I had come, I headed down a trail that went across the Yosemite Creek, and along the base of Yosemite Point Buttress. The water level was low in the creek, and the rock riverbed was dry, but still beautiful in its own way.
|Dry, rocky bed of Yosemite Creek|
|A found friend on the trail|
|Ripped my jeans too!|
While inside at the Visitor Center, I began getting mad at myself while looking at the animal dioramas, historical, and geological exhibits. I KNEW that my ankles were susceptible to twists like this - since I was a kid. I should have been more careful! I got myself some water, and sat at a bench again and calmed myself down. Beating myself up would only deter my enjoyment of this awesome place. I decided to just take my time, look at the exhibits and museum. I was blessed to be able to what I have done already - and whatever I could still do - I'd make the most of it.
|Writer and Environmentalist John Muir bronze statue|
|Where I first learned about the Ring-tail. Glad I saw one in person!|
|Would have loved to have encountered a Pika on a trail! Only saw this one in a Visitor Center Diorama|
|Some History of the Yosemite Valley|
While in the Visitor Center, I also visited the bookstore/gift shop. Only thing I picked up was a Yosemite Patch for our collection. Tee-shirts and tourist trinkets just did not interest me.
Behind the Visitor Center, is a "Native American Village" to walk through. It displayed traditional Bark huts, tools and more of the Tribe that called Yosemite Valley home up to the late 1860s. The Miwok Tribe called Yosemite Valley, "Ahwahnee", which is believed to mean, "place of the gaping mouth". They referred to themselves as the "Ahwahneechee", "dwellers in Ahwahnee".
One thing I learned is that Black Oak Acorns were a staple in their diet. At times, the Black Oak Acorn made up to 60% of their food source!
Down a path from the Visitors Center is a small museum building, over 80 years old and was the first museum in a National Park. Exhibits included Ahwahee clothing, bead work, and tools. There were also some historical artifacts from when the park first opened. One unusual piece was a 1912 Indian motorcycle, possibly the first to visit the park.
While walking aback to the Jeep at Yosemite Lodge, I decided to stop for a snack at a small rest area with rest rooms. The bonus was a beautiful view to Yosemite Falls.
|Snack time - Plum and Breakfast Bar|
After enjoying my burger and fries, I headed back onto Northside Road. Construction and traffic slowed things down, but at least the sights were interesting and beautiful. I didn't mind sitting in traffic with these surroundings! The construction appeared to be placement of new curbing and some drainage systems roadside being installed.
|A Painter along the road|
|Traffic and Construction - but with a view!|
|On a side trail - Over hang under a boulder that was big enough for a bear to take shelter - I imagined.|
|On the trail - close, but never made it to the base|
|There are climbers up there somewhere!|
|Closer - but still not to the base|
|Climbers laden with gear headed up the trail to the base of El Capitan|
|Sign posted warning climbers and hikers of the recent large rockfalls|
|Interesting Twisted Tree|
The long shadows as the day neared it's end were starting to come across the valley floor, so I drove back toward Tunnel View to watch the sun set. This was perhaps not the best choice, but still was enjoyable as I could feel the temperature dropping as the sunlight left the valley and mountains. Quite a few others had the same idea, to capture the waning light in the valley.
|The Beauty of El Capitan, Half-Dome and more - once again.|
After exiting Tunnel View, the road was mostly downhill to the entrance of Glacier Point Road. I initially passed it, as it is on a curve, and more "driver friendly" coming from the opposite direction. I also encountered barreling around the curve toward me a large semi carrying construction equipment that caught me off guard. Fortunately I only had to drive up to the next pull off, and turn around.
The drive up to Glacier Point is quite curvy, with lots of drop-offs. As I was on a bit of straightaway a coyote was standing upon a hillside near the roadway. I slowed and stopped, but did not even think to grab a photo. He seemed as inquisitive of me as I of him! Further up the road I was greeted by temporary highway signs warning of smoke on the road, and sure enough around the next bend I could smell and feel the slight sting to my eyes of a fire burning on the hills below. Further along in the dimming sunlight I could see fire scarred trees right along the road. Smoke was in the air, but never impaired visibility to any extent.
Once I made it to Glacier Point there were many people coming back to the parking lot from the trails. Apparently I had missed a beautiful "second sunset" - due to the height of the surrounding mountain tops - by only a few minutes. Next time! The views in the twilight of Half Dome Village below were beautiful. Lights in the buildings were twinkling on the darkened valley below, and yet up on Glacier Point twilight still let me see everything surrounding me. Twilight did fall fast however, and there were just shadows to guide me back to the car - where I had left my flashlight. I decided to rest a bit in the car, and wait for about thirty minutes till the area was enveloped in total blackness. I was concerned that cloud cover might hamper my view, but these blew by quickly and I was rewarded with a crisp, cold, and stark clear sky, filled with an amazing star field, and a full harvest moon. I found a rock to sit upon, and spent some time just gazing up into the heavens. Looking again across to El Capitan, I could see the occasional twinkle of lights on the almost smooth buttress wall face, and thought of the climbers I had encountered earlier. That could be their headlamps as they still enjoyed the challenges of their planned evening rock climb!
|A panoramic of the mountains beyond Glacier Point|
|Can you see the Yosemite Waterfalls?|
|Hard to get bearing in the darkness, but the lights of Half Dome Village Below Glacier Point|
The rest of my drive down Glacier Point road, and then back through the National Park gates (again unmanned) was without incident. Before returning to my room in Oakhurst, I picked up some balm for my ankle - to sleep more comfortably - and a ready-made sandwich that I devoured more quickly than I care to admit - apparently spending the day hiking, exploring into the evening, and the Pacific time change made me more hungry than I expected.
The knee - scabbed and healed - eventually. The ankle was better than expected coming out of the boot, although I hobbled a bit on it when tired for a week or so.
Many things will fade. Memories of my one day in Yosemite will be with me, I hope, forever.
|My trusty, battered boots after Yosemite|