Yosemite National Park

Half Dome- the iconic Yosemite symbol
In 1864, President Lincoln declared Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of giant sequoia a public trust.  This action was taken to prevent the commercial exploitation of the lands.  It was the first time the government had moved to protect land for the public and formed the basis on which the National Park system was later established.  In 1890, Yosemite became the country’s 3rd national park.  Even though the park covers 1169 square miles, with roughly 4,000,000 visitors each year, the park can become quite congested in the Valley and Mariposa Groves. 

Over the past few weeks, we have monitored the most recent Yosemite fire closely.  Started on
El Capitan on the left, Three Brother on the right
August 17th to date, it has burned 401 square miles (not all within the park borders) but the fire is now 84% contained and recent rain has helped.  Webcams at different locations in the park and online reports allowed us to make the decision to go into the park.  Entering the park from the south, near Fish Camp, and spending most of our time in Yosemite Valley, the fire did not affect our visit at all.  Campgrounds were full and all of the venues we visited were busy.

In the Mariposa Grove
The Park Service has instituted the use of a shuttle system to transport visitors to the popular Groves once the parking area reaches full capacity.  Private vehicles are still allowed through the rest of the park, but the best way to see the park is to get out and hike the many trails.  With 800 miles of trails, there are plenty of options. 

Through the Valley there are a number of short, relatively level hikes.  One of the most popular hikes out of the valley is the Vernal Falls Mist Trail.  Rated
Vernal Falls- 317 feet on the Merced River
as moderate to strenuous, this round trip hike can take 3-4 hours, if you’re in good shape.  Forty years ago, I hiked that trail and enjoyed a picnic lunch at the top.  This visit, we viewed the falls from the vantage of Washburn Point.

For the more adventurous at heart, Half Dome and El Capitan offer a greater challenge.  Half Dome is the most dangerous and arduous hike.  There is a 4,800 feet elevation gain from the Valley: and it’s 8,842 feet at the top.  Lotteries are now used to select the 225 hikers per day to receive the permits required for the hike.  The hike can only take place when cables are up, between mid-May to October, depending on weather.  For most climbers this provides a 10-14 hour hike (depending on the route selected and abilities).

El Capitan- a 3000 foot granite monolith
El Capitan, on the other hand, is the largest monolith in the world, and a popular and challenging climb for those with the skill to tackle it.  During our stay, we watched 2 climbers scaling the sheer side, unbelievable.  This is NOT on our bucket list.

With our generator failing to provide our power, and ultimately, even our water, it was time to move on.  Heading south.

Climber moving up El Capitan

Blacktail deer in Yosemite Valley

Alan at Washburn Point

Cathedral Peak

Nevada Falls- 594 feet

View from Glacier Point

View of the Valley from Glacier Point

Alan painting at Glacier Point

Coyote posing for picture

Artist at work

Giant sequoias grow to over 300 feet, live up to 3200 years, have a base up to 40 feet diameter, and bark up to 31 inches thick.  They grow only on the Sierra Nevada's western slope.

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