The Sierra Nevada's Gem

Trip Start Jul 04, 2012
Trip End Jun 04, 2013

Flag of United States  , California
Thursday, October 18, 2012

Yosemite National Park is located amongst the Sierra Nevada, a 400 mile long and 80 mile wide chunk of solid granite formed millions of years ago during dramatic upheavals of the earth.  Subsequent ice ages and their glaciers have formed what is now Yosemite.  The iconic photographer Ansel Adams so well captured the beauty, drama and solitude of this great park.

As Yosemite starts at an elevation of 6000 feet above sea level, we were a bit time sensitive due to the early snowfalls that occur beginning at this time of year.  We began our exploring driving through the Tioga Pass, which ends at an elevation of almost 10000 feet at the eastern side of the park.  Incredible vistas at Olmsted Point, Tenaya Lake, Tuolumne Meadows and Tioga Pass entrance (where we had a snow fight!).  Attempted to climb Lembert Dome but didn't have the rock climbing equipment needed! (Although we did get part way up!!)  Two days later the road was closed due to a snow storm of two feet and 80 mile an hour thought I was joking about the time sensitivity.

The Valley is a whole other geographic/climatic region.  More temperate with the Merced River flowing through it, large oaks, large cedar and giant sequoias, along with the famed El Capitan, Half Dome and Tunnel View make the Valley stunning.  The giant sequoias are located in three areas of the park.  However, we made the trek down into Tuolumne Grove to see some trees 1500 years old.  Giant Sequoias are not as tall as the Coastal Redwoods but much thicker (40 ft)....all the way up to 270 feet tall!

Due to the dry summer we didn't get to see the incredible waterfalls that occur in the spring, but Bridalveil Falls was still a pretty sight along the Glacier Point Road.  This road leads up to Glacier Point, which gives visitors a view 3214 feet down into the Valley, along with views of Half Dome and Yosemite's High Country.  Known worldwide as a rock climbing and boulder climbing mecca, we enjoyed watching the climbers scale El Capitan - the boys are gearing up and practiced on many unsuspecting rocks during our visit!

We rounded off our visit (after 3 days of rain/snow) checking out the museum, Ansel Adams Gallery and The Ahwahnee Lodge, built in 1927.  Learned a bit about the Miwok and Paiute peoples who once called the Valley home.

Ninety percent of Yosemite is only accessed by backcountry hikes, so one can only wonder of the peace and tranquility away from the crowds.  And speaking of crowds, nearly 4 million people visit the park annually.  The best time to go is early spring to see the last of the snow, thundering waterfalls and spring wildflowers, or in late fall to see the fall colours and early dustings of snow (without the swarms of tourists!).

We are constantly grateful to the early conservationists who fought for protection of these great lands that are now National Parks, Yosemite certainly being one of the gems.  Thank you John Muir for persuading President Theodore Roosevelt to set aside some of the most spectacular lands for future generations!
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Rachel on

What a trip - it looks just so wonderful. I have really enjoyed the photo galleries!

Nice to see you are having fun and the boys are not too much the worse for where without school!!! :)

Keep blogging...this is fun living vicariously through you.

Love to all.


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