30 September 2011
The Adventure Continues!
On the morning of day three, I woke feeling much better (though still a bit off) after a good night's sleep. I drove up over Tioga Pass into Yosemite National Park with the sunrise. At nearly 10,000 feet high, the early morning was chilly. I was glad I had packed sweaters and a jacket! What a change from two days before in Death Valley! Here, there was frost on the ground and mist rising from the lakes. The autumn colors were starting to glow as you can see in this photo of Lembert Dome.
As always, I love the details of a place as well as the big picture. How delightful to find a whole bank of these wild lupine still blooming! Each leaf and petal was covered in frosty droplets.
The view at Tenaya Lake was stunning. I had the beach to myself and enjoyed a leisurely walk across it. So beautifully peaceful at this early hour of the morning!
In various parts of the southwest, one comes across a type of sandstone known as slick rock. This hillside of granite made me think of that, though the geology of it is completely different. Amazing to see these broad smooth mountainsides of rock either way!
What is it about ponds that draws our attention to them? I find myself wanting to stop at every little bit of water I see. At this lovely spot, I watched enormous blue dragonflies performing aerial acrobatics as hunted for their breakfast. On the far side, there were lily pads. All around was birdsong!
At Tuolumne Meadows, I sat and listened to a Beldings Ground Squirrel. His call was clear and piping, echoing across the meadow like a ringing bell. It was so musical, that at first I thought it was a bird.
Eventually I made it down to the valley floor. The views, as one can imagine from all the magnificent photos taken of it, don't begin to express the immensity and grandiosity of the formations here. I took lots of photos, that look just like all those that everyone takes. But it wasn't until late in the day as the sun was setting, that I finally took a photo that captured the light that in my mind, I saw all day. It's no wonder that so many artists have been drawn to paint masterpieces here.
In the evening, I drove back towards Lee Vining and reached Olmstead Point just as the last light of the sunset was hitting the peaks. A beautiful view to end the day with!
The next morning, I needed to head towards home. With a tummy still not quite normal, I didn't want to rush, and somehow, the idea of driving into the sun all day across the desert was more than I could handle. So I decided to take a more lingering way home and travel down the western side of the Sierra. I started the day with a look at Mono Lake, which I'll post about tomorrow. Then I headed back into Yosemite. As I headed toward the southern end of the park, I was surprised at the Tunnel View overlook, to suddenly see the view of the valley that has become so famous, so of course, I had to get out with a million other tourists and take a shot of the view. Gorgeous! Even if everyone else who visits Yosemite takes the exact same picture!
I was really looking forward to seeing the big trees again, so a stop at Mariposa Grove was must. Somehow, time had gotten away from me on this drive (too many distractions!) and so it was late afternoon already by the time I arrived. Taking the "tram" tour allowed me to see all of the grove. I love this shot of the little cabin back in the woods framed by the sequoia. It helps to put them in proper scale!
The evening sun coming through the trees was glorious. Every now and then, something comes along that fills one with a sort of primal awe. Something so primal, so powerful, so... amazing. I feel that way about watching an ocean when the waves are at their peak, about watching a powerful fire rip through a forest, watching, listening and feeling an intense thunder and lightning storm, or watching a new life being born. I feel that way about the Sequoia trees too. The Irish gentleman who sat next to me on the tram tour put it perfectly. We waited for him after one of our stops and when he got back on at last, his friends ribbed him about wanting to stay in the forest. He stood up, flung his arms out and looking up into the tall trees cried, "I love the trees! I love the sequoia! I... Am A Tree Hugger!!!"