Yosemite National Park is one of those places almost everyone dreams about seeing. Mary Lynn and I left San Francisco in mid-June and drove to Yosemite. The Sierra Nevada’s had 1.8x times the average snowfall during the winter of 2011. Put that together with a late spring and Yosemite becomes even more amazing than usual.
Within 5 minutes of seeing our first waterfall we had seen at least a dozen more. Lots of smaller waterfalls that normally last only a few weeks were in full force. The amount of water pouring over the falls and into Yosemite Valley staggers belief.
Above is Yosemite Falls. The combined height of the upper falls, the middle cascades and lower falls is 2425 feet, fifth highest waterfall in the world and the tallest in the US. Wow!
We had an unbelievable time hiking to the base of several falls, especially Bridal veil Falls pictured above. The sound is deafening and the earth trembles beneath your feet; the spray drenches everything within a few hundred feet, and yet, everyone around you is smiling and laughing like school children at recess. That’s Half Dome peaking out of the background in the upper left of the photo.
Also pictured in the photo above, Bridalveil Falls is one of the first waterfalls you see as you enter the valley from the west and, after leaping 620 spectacular feet, the water from Bridalveil Falls joins the Merced River which flows through Yosemite Valley.
Above is Sentinel Rock which overlooks Sentinel Falls and the entire valley.
This is Upper Yosemite Falls and if you look closely, just to the left of the waterfall, you can see a helicopter searching for a missing hiker who was last seen at the top of this waterfall. Despite lots of warning from park rangers about staying away from the streams and rivers due to strong currents and slippery conditions, some people insist on seeing how close they can get to the water, especially at the top of waterfalls.
Several weeks later three young adults waded into a fast flowing stream and, in full view of a number of people, were swept over the falls. Very sad…
Above is another picture of Half Dome in the middle and El Capitan on the left.
Half Dome looks as if someone split the mountain in two with a giant axe, leaving exactly half of a huge mountain behind.
Another part of Yosemite, Mariposa Grove is home to giant sequoias. For a tree that soars several hundred feet into the sky, the root system is fairly shallow.
This sunset photo was taken from an overlook near Hetch Hetchy, another glacial valley that supposedly rivaled Yosemite in beauty although it’s not quite as large. Regardless, a dam was built and it’s now completely filled with water. There is a strong movement to remove the dam and allow Hetch Hetchy to regain it’s former glory.
One last photo of Half Dome. It’s an amazing sight from any angle. It rises straight up from the valley floor and is home to the park’s toughest hike/climb: depending on your route, it’s at least a 15 mile hike round trip where you ascend a total of 4800 vertical feet above the valley floor. The final 400 feet can only be accomplished because cables have been installed. Once you have soaked up the incredible views, you have to descend. Some people claim the descending the cable system is tougher than ascending.
Needless to say, I enjoyed watching others make the trek from the safety of the valley floor.