Saturday, August 4, 2012

California : Yosemite National Park

Last weekend, we did a short trip to the Yosemite National Park. We drove from Cupertino and it took us about 4 hours or so to reach the park. The drive was across the Californian countryside, small towns and yellow hills and barren land.

Once inside the park, we drove onto the Yosemite Valley, which is the most popular part of the Park. Our first view of the valley from one of the viewpoints was of a narrow green winding path created by a small blue stream flowing through it and surrounded by huge white mountains on both sides. Gorgeous, isn't it?

Once we reached the Valley, we stopped at a couple of places next to the Merced River. The weather was so hot (30+ degrees) that the cool water in the river provided a much need break.! The green and the blue provided a great opportunity to click some pictures too:).

Next, we stopped at the BridalVeil Falls, which was quite dry in the heat. But when there was some wind, the water would blow in the wind direction and not fall down at all! Was almost like a veil of water in the air..

Thereafter, we entered the Valley and what a nightmare it turned out to be! The weather and the crowds was a big put off. We had to park our car outside the village since there was a huge traffic jam. And so we explored the park using the free park shuttle which takes you around the area. We crossed some green and yellow picturesque meadows on the way, which were all a bright yellow. We walked to the Yosemite Falls which were dry and did not have a drop of water! Apparently the Vernal Falls had some water but it was too strenuous a trek to do.

The grand sheer cliffs on both sides of the Valley were a mesmerizing sight. Straight bare huge white cliffs.. on either side, what a feeling they give! What a reverence for nature it brings out, such powerful nature!

We did not do much that day, but figured out a lot of options for the next time:). Half Dome is a favorite among rock climbers whereas Glacier Point is for people preferring to get a good view of the Valley.  The Mirror Lake trek is popular, but it was closed this time. Also, there are many many camping locations all along the park which might be the best way to get the most out of it.

Another thing I noticed was that the Park is a photographer's delight. There are just so many options, everywhere you look is a sight waiting to be captured. No wonder this place is so popular!


After exploring the Valley, we called it a day and drove towards our night halt, which was at Oakhurst near the south gate of the park. We stopped at the Tunnel view for a last view of the Valley, and it was majestic - Half Dome and El Capitan on both sides holding the valley between them, a real painting by nature.

On the drive to the South Gate, we also saw the Sequoia Grove which have these massive sequoia trees growing there. The trees were definitely huge. But we did not understand what all the hype was about these groves! We also passed the Wanona Hotel which is a historic hotel located in a scenic area with plenty of trails around. Might be a fun place to stay.

At night we stayed at the Wild Rose in Oakhurst. The next morning we took a different path, on the Tioga Pass which was at a much higher height and so cooler and less crowded than the Valley.  The drive was pretty with cedar and fir trees all around. 

We stopped at one camping ground, the White Wolf and did a short 3 hour trek to Lakerns Lake. It was a small lake but a pretty trail with wildflowers growing all around. The weather was also much better making the experience more enjoyable!

We also drove through the Olmsted Point, which interested me greatly. Apparently the whole of Yosemite Valley and surrounding areas were formed by flowing glaciers millions of years ago. And when those glaciers melted, they left many stones perched at weird locations and positions like at the Olmsted Point. Isn't it fascinating?

The view of the Yosemite Valley from the Olmsted Point was good. (I felt Yosemite has very magnificent view all around, don't you too?)

We also stopped at the Tanaya Lake, which was just picture perfect as apparently there are all along the way!

So after a quick dip in the lake, we started out back for Cupertino, back to the city life of gray from the blues and the greens.

Back from the trip, the major thing I realized was that Yosemite was definitely not a place for the summers! The weather and crowds during summers are both a dampener! The Park definitely has a lot of potential: immense beauty and multiple activities for engagement, a great place for camping and exploring the wild, but not the Valley. It would be a better bet to camp and explore in the Wilderness or the Tioga Pass road than the crowded Valley, that would definitey be an experience worthy of such a location.

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