“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”
― John Muir
Amen to that, John Muir!!!
What an awesome place - Yosemite National Park who's name has an interesting history. John Muir, the naturalist who is responsible for the preservation of both Yosemite and the Sequoia National Forest, also founded the Sierra Club which is the one of the most important conservation organizations in the United States. His philosophy is that nature, and being in nature, is as important to one's soul as food and water are to the body. I would wholeheartedly agree. Our visit to Yosemite was as much a spiritual experience as it was anything else. One cannot stand in the face of such incredible beauty without being humbled at the greatness of God. There were times when the scenery in front of me literally took my breath away.
We spent several days in this park and could have spent twice as much time. There is so much to do here and so much to see. Our first day was spent wandering among the huge Sequoia trees in the Mariposa grove. You just cannot imagine the immensity of these trees until you are standing among them. They are just massive and spectacular to look at. Sequoias take a long time to mature and some of the trees in this grove over 2,000 years old and still growing. HOLY COW! They also heal themselves in a cool way. The tunnel tree that was carved in 1907 has the bark curling around the sides to heal the opening in the tree's center. Cool! We were thoroughly taken aback with the sight of these trees and can only imagine what a hike through Sequoia National Forest would be like. Sadly, however, we did not have that in our plans this trip. Later in the day, we took a hike to the swinging bridge that crosses the Merced River. That was a nice hike and the river did not disappoint. I sat by the edge of it and just took some time to pray. The sound of the rushing water and the smell of the pine was simply heaven to me. We closed day one with a visit to the Pioneer Yosemite History Center. This was a fun place to visit. Steve enjoys old farming equipment (I guess you can take the boy out of the farm but you cannot take the farm out of the boy!) and I enjoyed the cabins and buildings that were relocated here from other parts of Yosemite. One of the coolest part of this village was the covered bridge, which was built by the Washburn brothers - - the same dudes who built all those covered bridges we photographed while visiting Vermont. This discovery sort of ties our east coast trip to our west coast trip, don't you think? Anyway, I love the log cabins and really would love to live in one in the mountains. We close the day with some shots of the Merced River that Steve took from the knotholes in the wood on the covered bridge. Our son, Terry, is an awesome photographer and we knew he would enjoy this different perspective.
Day two was spectacular and extremely exhausting. We begin with a couple of views on our way to the tunnel that takes you into Yosemite Valley. Then, once you emerge from the tunnel, you are hit immediately with the most spectacular view - - El Capitan, Half Dome and Bridalveil Falls - - all right there in front of you. The view is so overwhelming that it sort of made me a bit disoriented. The vastness of what you are looking at makes it hard for your brain to take it all in at once - - at times everything seems so near but really it is very far away. Know what I mean? We traveled to Bridalveil Falls first and hiked up to the base. Since we came at the end of Spring, the falls were very active so we were blessed with a lot of mist, and hence, wet clothing. But it was worth it. The water from this falls flows over a large collection of rocks which made for a great whitewater river. And since it is late Spring, there were three other falls that were active now that would be dry by summer - - Horsetail Falls, Ribbon Falls, and Sentinel Falls. In Yosemite Valley, Steve took the picture of the famous Ansel Adams shot. We had a very nice lunch there and Steve shared a few pretzels with two of the hugest ravens I have ever seen - - these things were chickens, I swear. Anyway, in 1997, Yosemite flooded after the melt of an unusually high snowfall in the previous winter. You can see him standing next to the sign that indicates where the water level would have been at the time of the flood. WOW! I cannot imagine how the valley would have looked with all that water.
Anyway, after lunch, we headed over to the east end of the park and took the hike up to Vernal Falls. This was a particularly grueling hike. First of all, we are at nearly 5,000 feet where we flatlanders have trouble breathing just sitting still. Then, couple that with a 1.5 mile hike that was at such a steep grade it made your heart pound. We rose 500 feet in elevation in the first .8 of the mile so you can imagine the steepness of that hike. This particular trail will also lead you up to the Half Dome hike which is closed at this time of year so we didn't do it. Yeah right! THAT'S the reason. Anyway, we got to the footbridge and took some shots of the Merced from there. It was extremely rocky and the water was flowing in quite the torrent, yet some kids decide to go out on the rocks anyway. Why are young people so stupid? I hate to be rude when I say that but seriously, one misstep and he would have been down the river and dead before anyone could have done something to rescue him. Anyway, Steve continued on with the hike up to Vernal Falls. I had to rest because my bad knee refused to go further and protested wildly when I attempted to further the climb. On the way out of the park, Steve got some cool shots of clouds covering Half Dome and El Capitan. He's got some talent for photography, don't you think?
Day three was a bit more relaxing. All the hiking we did was on flat ground, thankfully. We visited Yosemite Falls this day and Steve experimented with a bunch of different camera features. Feel free to use any of these shots as your screen saver. The last shot from this day contains a quote from John Muir that expresses the spiritual rejuvenation that one can feel from an experience in nature. It is etched on a bronze plaque that was erected in the place where John Muir built a cabin while living in Yosemite. It reads as follows:
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”
― John Muir
Can I get an AMEN!!!!
Later folks. This week is an RV rally in Lodi, California where we will be bonding with others of our ilk -- full-time RVers. Next weekend we head to Reno and Elko, NV and then on to Salt Lake City, so don't look for an update again from us until April 29.