We all have our views about natural beauty but I can’t imagine that anyone would not agree that Yosemite National Park is one of the most spectacular places on earth. Yosemite Valley has majestic glacier carved granite walls with waterfalls and lush meadows. With Yosemite Falls, El Capitan, Half Dome and Glacier Point the mind has difficulty coping with the sheer size and scope of what the eye sees.
Yosemite Falls, at 2,425 feet, is the tallest waterfall in North America when including all three portions, upper, middle and lower falls. Generally, at this time of year its water source would be mostly dried up but there was still a good stream tumbling down the sheer rock face.
El Capitan is part of a mile long granite rock face that rises 3,600 feet above the valley floor. Early visitors to Yosemite Valley estimated its height at 600 feet but reported it as 400 in order to not be called crazy. Even then this estimate was thought to be ridiculous. It is a mecca for rock climbers who come and camp at its base in large numbers to challenge themselves on one of the few places in the world with such a high and accessible near vertical face. Most climbers need 3 to 5 days to get to the top. On any given day there are approximately 25 of them on El Capitan. It’s fascinating to watch them through a telescope and ponder what it’s like clinging to the sheer rock face. While there are regular rock falls from here, there was a very large one about a week before we arrived. It’s easy to spot the lighter colored scar on the right of the above photo that begins about 1,800 feet up. They estimate that 33,000 tons of rock detached and slid to the bottom.
A trip up to Glacier Point puts you 3,200 feet above the valley floor with a stunning view of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, North Dome, Nevada Falls and Vernal Falls. And while Yosemite Valley gets most of the visitors to the park, a trip to Tuolumne Meadows bring you to beautiful Tenaya Lake, Lambert Dome and Olmstead Point, from which you get a different view of Half Dome and the northern end of Yosemite Valley.
We parked in Yosemite Valley at the Upper Pines campground. None of the campgrounds in the valley have utilities so we were “roughing it” without hookups. At this time of year the weather was very pleasant with daytime highs in the upper 60’s to low 70’s and nighttime temps in the low to mid 40’s.
Next stop: Patterson, CA