Yosemite Valley

"El Capitan"

Having left Tuolumne Meadow Stables, I headed west on Tioga Road, down, out of the High Sierras on my way to the Yosemite Valley and Yosemite Village. Drowsiness started to creep up on me, but did not overtake me. As I neared the Valley, rounding a bend on the winding road, I was suddenly aroused from my lull.


I had thought the sights I had seen up in the High Sierras were amazing, and awesome. What blasted into my vision brought me to full attention. The rock formations of the mountains from this lower level down from the mountain tops was mind boggling. You could say it blew my mind. Eye popping and jaw dropping, simultaneously, I had to stop my car at the first available turn-off so that I could simply try to start taking in the views. These are the scenes most people associate with Yosemite and that draw visitors here from around the world. But seeing this astounding beauty captured me, enveloped me and left me in awe. 

John Muir, naturalist, preservationist, author was instrumental in helping establish Yosemite as a National Park. The Sierra Nevada Mountains held a very special place in his soul and his explorations and writings helped gain it attention and ultimate preservation. In some of his writings he refers to Yosemite with all it's majestic mountains, monoliths, cliffs and waterfalls as a temple: "no temple made with hands can compare with Yosemite". Likening Yosemite as Nature's Temple is an apt description. I can only imagine the reverence he experienced in this inspiring place. Muir's influences extend beyond Yosemite, incorporating all of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and other forests as well. I say, "thank you John Muir" for your influence in helping preserve for future generations this and the other National Parks in the United States. 

As I drove into the park, it was not easy to keep my eyes on the road and upon all the traffic. This was certainly a VERY popular destination for thousands of people. While here I stayed in the "housekeeping camp", which was a sizable area with duplex type structures, with 3 concrete walls, a 4th canvas covered open wall, a covered patio, a double and one bunk bed. They all have electricity, a shelf unit for storage and the obligatory bear box for food storage. As I found out, it was like a small village, many, many families converging there, where they could "housekeep", cooking their own meals on the patios, enjoy all of the park's amenities and sights, with restrooms and showers nearby. Many of the families also spent considerable time in the Merced River as well. 

By now I had started to become quite accustomed to this more "civilized" type of camping. Within an enclosure I did not have to pitch, and sleeping upon a mattress, restrooms nearby, as well as showers and restaurants, why bother with a small tent, sleeping on the ground, cooking freeze dried meals, and all that "roughing it" stuff? 


With this as my base camp, I had intended to do some rather extensive hiking up some of the steepest trails to high overlooks and thought of even tackling Half Dome, one of the most recognized landmarks within Yosemite. Unfortunately my blistered toe terminated those plans. Each day, with more healing, the discomfort lessened, but long hikes up and down mountain trails were impossible and I was grounded to the valley floor. 

Soon after arriving I had seen open air trams that were taking visitors around the park to see the scenery. I sought that out immediately. Basically seated on a flatbed with unobstructed views, a ranger guide narrating for the passengers, I was able to get an overview of the park, with history and highlights pointed out to me. A very good introduction to Yosemite Valley. Thereafter I took the free shuttle bus as often as needed to other places in the park and also started to increase my walking about. If I were far away from camp and felt uncomfortable, I'd simply go to a bus stop and ride back in comfort. Once my car is parked, I like taking the shuttles within the National Parks. It becomes far too tense and frustrating trying to drive with so many other people on the roads. 

Three reserved nights in Yosemite Valley were adequate for this visit. In the future, I would like to return and then do the hiking I had hoped to do. So, here is another place that deserves more of my attention and exploration. At this time of year, many of the waterfalls here were not even a trickle. To experience those, I'd need to return at another time when water is flowing again. 

Referring to the top photo, EL CAPITAN, would you believe that rock climbers scale it, almost daily? Many of those who climb it take a couple of days to ascend it's 3000 foot sheer wall. On the tram ride, one climber was pointed out as we stopped and squinted up to see his ant size shape, resting at that time on a barely visible, narrow ledge before climbing upward as we drove away. At night they rig up a hammock and sleep, suspended, way up on the cliff face. 


Having enjoyed 3 restful, non strenuous days in Yosemite Village, it was time for me to venture forth on to King's Canyon National Park. I decided to take my good old time and spent most of the rest of the day just driving to Oakhurst, CA where I spent the night.





These photos, below, were taken from Glacier Point, high above Yosemite Village. This was from an overlook road on the way out of Yosemite Valley. Note the two waterfalls in the first photo.

Half Dome, as seen from Glacier Point.     

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