Monday, June 15, 2009

More Yosemite

Camp Connell -- I finally went through the photographs we took on our two day Yosemite trip and decided to share a few.

The first photo is of the Housekeeping cabin where we spent the night. It was perfectly adequate, and many families have enjoyed these rustic concrete-sided cabins located alongside the Merced River for generations. I do not understand exactly why a shelter like this costs $80 or so a night, but we had a good night's sleep and great views all around. It was the last place available in the park.
Location. Location. Location.

The second image is of the view downstream from the site of the cabins during an early morning walk. The quality of light in Yosemite Valley is astounding and different all times of the day. Once school is out, and the tourist season is in full swing, the river will fill up with rafts and the beaches and banks with sunbathers.

The third image is what you see when you take time to look up from the Valley floor. Yosemite Falls, the tallest in the United States, tumbling down the northern cliff face on a late May morning. The park was crowded, as it almost always is, but a short walk brings you to quiet places.

The fourth image is what you see when you turn and look to the East. Half Dome, looming over everything. Thousands of people climb to the top every year. Once in a while, as happened last week, someone slips and falls and dies. But the rock does not change except as a result of wind, rain, snow and ice. And the pace of that is slow.

The fifth image was taken after a one-hour drive from the floor of the Valley to the tip of Glacier Point, location of the best views you will ever hope to see. The weather was cloudy and grey, with rain blowing in from the East. You are looking across the canyon that holds Nevada and Vernal Falls,on the lower right, with Half Dome in the bottom center. The high Sierra Nevada looms on the horizon, still coated with snow. I believe the peak is Cathedral Peak, with Mount Dana to the left. Hidden among the granite canyons is Tenaya Lake.

The sixth image looks down, through the rain and mist, on the most popular hiking trail in Yosemite, and perhaps in any national park in America, the Mist Trail. It gets so much traffic it is paved part of the way, and steps are cut into the granite between the waterfalls. Despite warning signs along the way, people often swim in the pools at the top of the waterfalls. It's better just to look. This also is the starting section of the grueling day hike that takes climbers around the back side and to the very top of Half Dome, seen on the left.

And finally, an action shot of a bear doing what bears do and a ranger doing what park rangers do. This was taken as we left the park and drove through Crane Flat. The orphaned yearling bear was prowling around near some downed logs just off the road, probably snacking on carpenter ants, and a traffic jam resulted. Bears have very bad eyesight, and he probably did not notice the crowd he attracted which was downwind. Cars were everywhere along the road, and people gathered in groups to watch from the roadside. The ranger is running to head off a tourist with camera who decided to walk up close to the bear and snap a souvenir photo, a dangerous thing to do with a large wild animal. The ranger protected the tourist from himself. This bear was orphaned last year, according to the ranger, when a tourist killed the mother bear on the road.

I never regret visiting Yosemite but I always leave with mixed feelings. It is one of the most beautiful places on the planet, and three million visitors a year sometimes make it so crowded it can be a grueling experience to get around and look at the sights.
Accommodations are few, and grow more expensive every year.
The Park Service has an impossible job trying to protect the place, and make it available to all of the public. The only answer in my opinion, which I do not like, is to severely limit the number of automobiles allowed into the park. That idea was floated, more than once, and shot down immediately. Politically impossible.
But when you are there, and walk ten minutes away from the crowded sidewalks and trails and look around, you get to see an earthly version of Heaven.

We'll be back.

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