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Visiting and Hiking in Scenic Yosemite National Park in California
Vacation Trip to Yosemite
Several years ago a friend and I spent several days hiking and exploring in Yosemite National Park in California. Many pictures were taken and a good share of them will be shown in this post about our experiences while there.
Many people might be aware of Yosemite Valley because of its impressive beauty due to sheer cliffs and other rock formations, cascading waterfalls and the love that John Muir had for this locale plus his place in history explaining how geologic events helped in creating this most beautiful of places.
This was one of ten national parks and other natural scenic locations that would be visited and impressed upon our memories on one grand vacation shared that year between my friend and myself.
Yosemite View Lodge
Prior to my friend coming over here from Germany I had spent much time in planning this vacation trip. Our plan was to utilize my car driving it from Houston, Texas to California and back all the while stopping at our national park destinations as well as other points of interest along the way.
Reservations were made well in advance after discussing and agreeing upon the prices and conveniences that we both wanted. For this particular portion of the trip in which we would be exploring Yosemite we stayed at the Yosemite View Lodge. We were extremely pleased with the accommodations and were I to ever return to see more of Yosemite I would happily stay there again.
Yosemite View Lodge sits adjacent to the Merced River which flows through Yosemite National Park. On the first floor facing the river we had a large patio furnished with wicker chairs and tables and we could see and hear the boisterous Merced River both outside and inside our comfortable room.
That particular year not too long after we had left the park the Merced not only overflowed its banks but the park had to be temporarily shut to tourists.
A fireplace inside our room provided ambiance and also warmth since we were there in the spring of the year when the melting snow provides the greatest show of waterfall volume in Yosemite National Park. The timing of our visit also added to the water activity we were seeing in the rising and roaring river outside our room.
The roar of the Merced River could be heard at this particular location both day and night as it tumbled over rocks sending up fine sprays of mist. The Yosemite View Lodge folks had spent the money to have the river illuminated at night which added to the visual beauty of staying there.
Having gone whitewater rafting several times in my life I would not have wanted any part of entering that wild and raging river that year at that particular time. Of course the daredevils would probably have loved it!
Each day we would enter Yosemite National Park from this base of operation to view different areas and do some hiking.
Some Views Inside YosemiteClick thumbnail to view full-size
People thought that naturalist John Muir was crazy when he first proposed that much of Yosemite Valley was scoured out by glacial activity. But over time most have come to agree with that theory accounting for the distinctive widening out of the valley floor that river action alone could not explain.
- Starting out below ground the granite features comprising much of Yosemite had crystallized from a hot molten state. Over millions of years as seas retreated and Teutonic movements deep within the earth caused the uplifting of what would become the Sierra Nevada range what would eventually become this beauteous valley had its start.
- The Merced River played an important part in this evolving story. Carving into the tilting walled canyon a gorge over three thousand feet deep and carrying away debris as every river eventually does on its march eventually back to the oceans, the Merced River was doing its part to create this landscape.
- Normally this type of action forms a V-shaped canyon. So how did the U-shaped canyon come into being? Ancient glaciers that had formed and slowly moved down through parts of what would eventually be called Yosemite scoured the V-shaped canyon widening it as the ice transported both small and large boulders in its path.
- Not much of what is in the way of a slow moving glacier can stand up to the terrific force of its creeping passage. Think of glacial action moving through rocks as compared to a bulldozer moving through banks of earth. Where the bulldozer has gone areas are flattened and the earth is transported elsewhere. Chunks of earth from the banks that are not well cemented into place might fall into this cleared path after the bulldozer has passed.
- This is much like what the glaciers would have done when moving through Yosemite. They took areas of rock leaving behind sheer cliffs and what would become hanging valleys where waterfalls now tumble into rivers that were once on or near the same level. Boulders and rocks are strewn in places falling off from the higher mounts above them just as those clumps of earth would have fallen off from after that bulldozer had ploughed through their midst.
- What is now the Yosemite Valley floor was once covered by a lake which eventually disappeared leaving the flat base which now supports meadows, trees and other foliage.
Yosemite is one of the most strikingly beautiful places on earth due to its past geologic history. Of course nature is never static but ever changing. The rivers, waterfalls, climactic changes and movements deep within the earth will continue to shape and modify Yosemite National Park long into the future.
Beautiful Pictures of Yosemite + Music
There are four hundred species of animals that could potentially be sighted and found within the bounds of Yosemite. Part of this is due to the topographic variety seen within the park that can support a number of birds and animals.
We spotted the mule deer as one can readily see from this picture that I took of them. They are the only type of deer found in Yosemite.
65 species of birds have been spotted including the spotted owl and brightly colored Steller's Jay among others.
While hiking one day we and others saw a cougar poking its head around a large boulder not twenty feet from the path in which we were traversing! Had another hiker not quietly pointed it out we would have missed seeing it.
The 3,000 foot high tallest unbroken granite cliff in the world called El Capitan can be seen here in Yosemite National Park.
Hiking to Bridalveil Falls
The starting point is from a parking lot area only about one quarter of a mile from the falls. It is a 1/2 mile round trip that takes only about twenty minutes and is considered an easy hike which it certainly was.
Unless one wishes to get wet a poncho or other type of rain gear would be recommended as the mist from the cascading water of the Bridalveil Falls pounding onto the rocks beneath it is quite substantial.
It was a bit foggy the day my friend and I saw it so the air was packed with humidity. The white frothy water was tumbling over the rocks and passing as a turbulent stream through the forest.
When we reached the viewing point of the Bridalveil Fall we could see why the waterfall was so named. It seems to come over the face of the rocks at the top in a fairly regular pattern widening slightly as it nears the bottom much as many ephemeral bridal veils do as they float down the back of the bride's dress forming a billowing train at the bottom.
Bridalveil Fall actually spills over from what is called a "hanging" valley. This valley was left at a higher elevation than the floor of Yosemite below it when the glaciers made their way through this locale millions of years earlier sheering away the rock base that once was contiguous with the valley.
Bridalveil Fall scenery in YosemiteClick thumbnail to view full-size
Around every bend of a path or every curve in the road is another spectacular scene that can be enjoyed in Yosemite National Park which the next photos show.
Scenery in YosemiteClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Hike To Vernal Fall
This hike was considered to be strenuous and one climbs about 1,000 feet gaining in elevation as one travels this trail to Vernal Fall.
One has access to this hiking trail by using one of the shuttle services within the Yosemite National Park. Shuttles are provided within the park to ease congestion and one is encouraged to use these services which run on a timely schedule in order to get to different areas within the national park.
One disembarks at the Happy Isles Shuttle Stop # 16 to take this trail to see Vernal Fall. This is also called the Mist Trail or John Muir Trail. It is a three mile round trip and generally takes anywhere from two to four hours depending upon how quickly one wishes to traverse the terrain.
As you can tell from some of these attached photos both my friend and I took time to enjoy the grand vistas as well as the smaller more intimate details such as mosses and lichen growing on rocks and trees.
At times we had to use our umbrellas due to light rain. Most of the time we were partially protected under the canopy of tall trees. Joining our fellow hikers along the trail we enjoyed the twists and turns scrambling over some rocks at times and finally made it to the end of the trail to see the downpour of Vernal Fall. We could hear the Vernal Fall long before we actually saw it. This was a most rewarding hike.
Scenery Viewed On Hike to Vernal FallClick thumbnail to view full-size
Mirror Lake in Yosemite
Mirror Lake and Meadow can be enjoyed as an easy one mile level hike leads one there.
The lake is gradually silting up and will eventually disappear just as did Yosemite Lake that once covered the valley floor. Mirror Lake will eventually become just additional meadow land.
Shuttle Stop # 17 takes one to this area within the park.
Yosemite Valley Floor
The flat valley floor of Yosemite Valley provides one with breathtaking views.
As spring turns into summer the waterfalls become less dramatic as the snow packs from the upper elevations have melted. So if you wish to see sights such as the ones pictured here be sure and visit Yosemite National Park in the springtime of the year.
Springtime flowers in bloom also add to this already stunning palate of comeliness. The flowering dogwoods added a splash of color to the house utilized for park personnel and pictured below.
Even if one was handicapped and could not enjoy the many hiking opportunities within Yosemite National Park I have to admit that just driving through this magnificent valley and the other roads within the park would leave you with excellent images.
Needless to say this is a photographer's dream place. Both amateur and professional photographers alike can hardly escape this paradise without some images that are worthy of being enjoyed.
Fly Fishing in Yosemite
While my traveling pal and I were walking through a meadow and alongside a river one day within the park we became mesmerized by the ballet like actions of a fly fisherman in action. In fact there were several people enjoying this sport.
I remembered the film I had seen years earlier titled "A River Runs Through It" and it was the first time that I fully realized the beauty that this casting of a fishing line entails. It seemed like such a fun way to spend a portion of a day especially surrounded by the spectacular scenery with which we were all surrounded.
Other Day Hikes Within Yosemite Valley
- There is the Lower Yosemite Fall which is an easy 1/2 mile round trip hike.
- The Upper Yosemite Fall Trail Columbia Rock is a strenuous 2 mile round trip with an elevation gain of 1,000 feet.
- If one wishes to to hike to the Top of Yosemite Fall one will be traversing a very strenuous undertaking with an elevation gain of 2,700 feet and a trip of 7.2 miles getting there and back.
- To get to see the Nevada Fall one must plan to hike 7 miles round trip in a strenuous 1,900 foot elevation gain.
- Glacier Point Four Mile Trail will have you walking 4.8 miles one way in a very strenuous hike with an elevation gain of 3,200 feet.
- For more moderate hiking one can walk the Valley Floor Loop which is 13 miles for the entire loop or 6.5 miles for half of it.
- For the most strenuous hike of all with an elevation gain of 4,800 feet and 17 miles round trip you might want to consider the Half Dome.
One can easily see that in addition to the hikes we took within Yosemite National Park (given our time frame) there is something to please almost any visitor from the casual observer looking out of the car window to the experienced and willing hiker wanting to take more time to explore more details that are gradually unfolded before one's eyes as one steps into the depths of the park away from the roadsides.
If you enjoyed this information plus pictures of our hiking in Yosemite National Park I am looking forward to hearing comments from you.
Below you will find more beautiful and informative videos for your perusal.
Have you visited Yosemite National Park?
© 2009 Peggy Woods