A May 2002 trip
to Yosemite National Park by thalakola
Quote: Yosemite in summer is something to be seen. The waterfalls are at their best, rivers and streams flow strong and most of the park is accessible. And yes, I saw most of the park in three days and you can too. I also found out that I am stronger than I think.
Next, I stopped at Tuolumne meadows. This is the largest subalpine meadow in the Sierra Nevada mountains and is surrounded by snow-capped mountains. The grass on the ground appeared to be burnt by wild fire. I walked around and saw the Lembert dome at the eastern edge of the meadows, some lakes and streams running through the meadows, and a few people trying to catch fish. I saw some people packing their bags to get on the numerous hiking trails in this area. But, overall there were few people here compared to Yosemite Valley. The campgrounds here were closed. I thought this area of Yosemite Valley is popular in the winter. I turned around from here and drove back to Yosemite Valley.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 11, 2002
After entering the valley, the first waterfall I saw was the Bridalveil fall. It falls 620 feet to the valley floor below. Next I stopped at the swinging bridge. I saw a beautiful meadow and the Merced River, surrounded by huge granite mountains with upper Yosemite falls in eyesight. These granite mountains have challenged rock climbers for a long time and you can always see someone climbing if you have binoculars. From there, I went to Yosemite Village, parked my car, and walked to Yosemite falls. The interesting thing about this is that it is not a single waterfall, but two falls with an intermediate cascade drop. The two Yosemite falls and the intermediate cascades drop 2425 feet, making it the tallest waterfall in America. It was a breathtaking sight.
From here, I wanted to go and see the Vernal and Nevada Falls. It was around 6:30 PM in the evening and I asked a security officer how I could get there by car. He told me the best way to see them is to hike up there. So, I took the shuttle bus and got down at the Happy Isles stop (stop # 16). In the bus, I came to know that the last bus from stop 16 is at 7:30 PM. I started walking towards Vernal falls on the mist trail and inquired of few people how much time it would take to go and see the Vernal Falls. They told me it would be an hour to go at least to the bridge and come back. Realizing that I did not have time for this, I turned around, took the bus again and returned to my car. I then went to Yosemite lodge and asked for a room for the night. The receptionist told me that the whole Yosemite park, including the Ahwahnee Lodge, Curry village, and Wawona Hotel were all full for the memorial day weekend. I ate dinner at the Yosemite Lodge restaurant with the idea of entering the park via the south entrance the next day; I exited out of the valley and started going south towards Fresno to find accommodation. On the route, I stopped at the vista point (which is called tunnel view, probably because it is near a tunnel) and looked at a great view of Yosemite Valley, El Capitan and Bridal Veil fall.
I arrived Glacier point in the afternoon. The road was narrow and I had to drive slowly and carefully, but the view of the valley from here is something that you can never forget; you can look 3214 feet down to the valley floor. You can also see Half Dome, Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls from here. Half Dome is one of the most distinctive and recognizable features in the park. It rises to an elevation of more than 8000 feet and the other half of the dome is believed to have fallen when the glaciers receded. I can safely say that the view from Glacier point is one of the great sights I have seen. Others include the Grand Canyon, Crater Lake in Oregon, and the beautiful Lake Tahoe.
There is a free shuttle bus from Wawona to the Mariposa Grove of Sequoia trees. Although it is only 7 miles from Wawona, I decided to take the shuttle bus there. At Mariposa grove, I took the tree tram and looked at the giant trees with astonishment. I saw a tree called Grizzly Giant. This tree is 2700 years old. Lighting had knocked down the top of it, but it was amazing to see the oldest living being on the planet. I also saw the tunnel tree, where there is tunnel at the bottom of the tree, and many other giant trees as well. It is interesting to note that the wood of these giant trees is brittle and not good for construction. I guess that's why they survived :-). After returning from the grove, I drove back straight to Merced. I bought a backpack and a t-shirt to wear the next day at the local Target store and went to sleep after gorging myself on a pizza.
After reaching stop #16, I got onto the Mist Trail and started on the strenuous climb to the top of Vernal Falls. After walking for almost half an hour, I reached a bridge that offered a spectacular view of the Falls. They drop 317 feet to the valley floor, and were just beautiful. I continued on the trail to the top of the falls. I then noticed that there were lots of people wearing jackets. I continued walking up the trail wondering whether I should have brought a jacket. By the time I was approaching the top of falls, I was wet from the mist. However, I was rewarded with seeing the rainbow in the mist.
My knees and legs were hurting by the time I reached the top of Vernal Falls. I rested there for 15 minutes while enjoying the beautiful view of the valley below, the running waterfalls, and the mountains. But something happened after I reached the top; I felt energetic again and I was ready to go all the way to the top of Nevada Falls.
I continued on the trail. I could not see anyone ahead of me and I was little afraid of the bears. But I kept saying to myself "it is morning and these are well-marked trails." Finally, I saw someone ahead of me walking with a stick in his hand. I followed him until I reached the top of the Falls. I felt great after reaching the top. I raised my hands up and said to myself "I can do anything I want."
It took me an 1 hour and 50 minutes to reach the top and it took the same amount of time to hike down. After reaching Stop #16 again, I took the shuttle and went back to Yosemite Village. I ate a delicious hamburger at the market grill and headed back home like a conqueror.
Mountain View, California