There are places on this earth carved out by the hand of god, creator, deity, or if you prefer, mother nature herself . The point is that they are spectacular to behold, beautiful, and breathtaking but far beyond the skill of man to create.
I found myself at the foot of an intimidating looking crag, early one September morning. The shadows of the morning sun defining each crack and crevasse making it seem more ominous and daunting. We were about to make a 3,200 foot vertical assent over a 4.7 mile long trail dubbed 4-mile-trail.
This is Yosemite. Hikers, backpackers, rock climbers, and campers paradise. There is something for everyone here, from the free trams that circle the Yosemite Valley stopping at all the sights, to trails leading to some of he most incredible places; Half dome, panorama trail, glacier point, clouds rest to name a few.I am embarrassed to admit that it has been decades since I have been to Yosemite and in the 5 years we have made Santa Rosa our home, this was my first time making the short 4 hour drive to visit this place. It will not be long before I return.
As we hiked up the very steep trail that zig-zagged its way up the mountain side, the rising sun dappled the light through the trees that surrounded the trail. Every corner brought a new vista, each one more impressive than the last.
Smoke from a fire burning across the canyon, hung in the air threatening to steal away the sharp contrast of the rock faces. The muted cliffs seemed distant and featureless. I had resided myself to the fact that views would not be as beautiful or as impressive as I had hoped. Somewhere along the trail we made it above the smoke layer. The colors became crisp and sharp, the scenery so vivid as if it were straight out of a painting. The smoke had settled into the lower elevations and traveled like a river through the valleys and canyons below. As we reached the end of 4-mile-trail, we found we were not alone. In fact, we did not come across one other person on the entire trail, yet now there seemed to be a couple dozen people milling about. Thats when I noticed a lodge (store) and a paved area. As it turns out, that for $41, you can take a tram from the valley floor up to glacier point and then back down. I realize that making a hike like 4 mile trail is not an option for many people…I am fortunate that I am not one of them. Even if the tram was free, I would still hike the trail just to experience the views and sense of accomplishment.
My day would have been complete had we turned around and went back down the mountain, but we continued on across the Panorama Trail, to the Mist Trail to Nevada and Vernal falls, then back down to the valley floor. All said and done, we managed hiking about 17.5 miles through one of the most spectacular places in California.
My only disappointment was that the iconic Yosemite falls was dried up. The low volumn of winter snow pack, drought conditions, and a shortage of rainfall, has taken its toll on all the waterways and falls within Yosemite. Nevada and Vernal falls still had water flowing, but they certainly not as impressive as I remember. Still, the sacred beauty of this place lies within every tree, shrub, rock, animal, and incredible views that change every minute of the day and night.
Go to Yosemite if you:
- love the outdoors
- love backpacking, hiking, camping, and exploring
- love nature
- love incredible views
Don’t go to Yosemite if you:
- Hate to walk
- like to liter
- don’t care for nature or wild life
- like to sit in your camper and watch tv. (it’s hard to reserve a campsite in Yosemite during the summer months, do the rest of us a favor and stay home if you don’t want to leave your camper.