Yosemite National Park

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Exiting The Tunnel

This was my first time to Yosemite and Bethany suggested she drive on the way in. I knew there would be things she wanted me to see but I was not expecting the view immediately after the tunnel. Yosemite Valley opens up to you and invites you to explore its beauty.

First Valley Views

On our way to Curry Village we stopped multiple times to take in the sights. It’s hard to show in photographs what the valley actually looks like. Everywhere you look there is something to see. The mountains surrounding the valley force you to look up just to see their tops. The photographs and videos I’d seen did not prepare me for the in person view.

Happy Isles

Our first morning in Yosemite saw us venture out to Happy Isles. The record setting, weeks long heat wave had reduced a normally roaring river to a trickling stream. Bethany explained she had never seen the river so calm and empty. I found the stillness beautiful and inviting and I couldn’t help but put my feet into the refreshing water.

Swimming In The Shadow Of El Capitan

We rented bikes to ride the path around the valley floor. Our companions invited us to go swimming near El Capitan. We made the six mile journey as the sun beat down on us with 100 degree heat. The road to our swimming destination offered little shade. The river on the other hand cooled us quickly. The water was so clear it was almost tempting to drink from it. Having cooled down we made the return trip to Curry Village, exploring the paths we found along the way.

Glacier Point

Not content with wasting a single hour on our first full day we continued our adventures into the sunset hours. We drove for an hour to Glacier Point, a vista overlooking part of the valley and offering a breathtaking view of Half Dome. The hour drive put us just a few miles away from where we started but we gained a couple thousand feet in elevation. Half Dome glowed shades of pink and red in the sunset.

Mist Trail and Mirror Lake

We arose at 7:30 am to make our way to Mist Trail, a winding, steep trail that promised close up views of two waterfalls. This trail quite literally left me breathless. The steep incline punished the legs but rewarded your hard work with unique views of the area. The waterfalls were almost dry, I joked that it looked as if someone was running a hose over the rocks. We decided to stop at the bridge and turn back towards the trail to Mirror Lake.

The trail to Mirror Lake looked like something out of Lord Of The Rings. Way off to our left we heard a rhythmic, deep, guttural sound from an animal we could not see or identify. Mirror Lake was completely dry but still beautiful. We sat in the shadow of Half Dome and ate breakfast and rested.

After some time we made our way back to Curry Village. It was 10:00 am and we had already hiked seven miles.

Swimming With Deer

Our morning hike had left us exhausted. The sun beat down directly on our tent and refused to let us sleep. What could we do to battle the heat? Go swimming!

We swam in the river at Swinging Bridge. At one point a family of deer decided to join us nearby. I went to sit on the beach in the hopes I could get a clearer shot. I was elated when the family of deer approached within 20 feet of me.

Meadow Views For Our Final Sunset

Our time in Yosemite was coming to an end. For our final sunset we sat in a meadow and soaked in the view of Half Dome one last time. A couple deer kept us company as we contemplated our adventure so far and dreaded our return home.

Usually on my last day of vacation I am ready to be home, but this was not the case this time. I felt a sadness that everything was coming to a close. Coronavirus had forced us to separate from the world and this trip reminded us of what the world was like before the pandemic.

Bone Dry Yosemite Falls

As we left the park we decided to take in one last sight: Yosemite Falls. We hiked the short trail to the falls only to find there were no falls. The area was bone dry, probably because the record setting heat wave had melted any remaining snow. An area full of flowing water and mists was nothing more than rocks. Being my first time I still found it beautiful.

As we left Yosemite and made our way through the mountains we were greeted with a horrible omen. The area had filled with smoke from the newly started Creek Fire. It was a harsh reality to face so quickly after our escape to paradise.

I am forever grateful to Bethany for this trip and I can’t wait to go back.