Have you seen Yosemite?
I can't believe I had never visited this incredible valley
By Rob Cockerham |
I went to Yosemite!
I can't believe this was here this whole time. Yosemite is amazing.
I've lived in California my whole life. When I finally visited Yosemite in May, I found a tiny oasis unlike any other enviroment on earth. Yosemite Valley is a little flat valley surrounded on all sides by HUGE granite walls and mountains.
For some reason, I thought that Yosemite was a vast area, with long lines of RVs snaking along for miles. But it isn't. It's one little spot.
It is busy, but it is developed for tourism. They are ready for you.
One reason I probably thought it was vast was that there are a bunch of legendary landmarks all crammed into this one five-mile long valley.
In this view from Google earth, you can get a sense of how close and tall the sheer mountain cliffs are. When you are in the valley, you are surrounded by 2-4,000 foot granite walls. It is breathtaking.
Driving into the valley, you are driving downhill, catching these incredible views as you head towards the valley floor.
The valley floor gets a lot of water and sun. It's been a natural oasis since the dawn of time, and it is just hard enough to get there that it is well preserved wilderness.
The mountain-walls are unusual in that they are steeper than typical mountains. Here's a view down to the meadows of the valley from about halfway up one of the mountains on the sides. This is the view on the hike to the top of Yosemite Falls.
Yosemite Falls is one of the main attractions. This is the tallest waterfall in North America. The water drops 2,425 feet from the top of the upper fall to the base of the lower fall. That's like watching water fall down two World Trade Buildings stacked on top of one another. It is breathtaking.
Here's another view from a bit closer to the water. You can see the upper falls in the middle of the picture and the lower falls as a white streak on the left, just above the letter V on the flood sign.
In the middle of the valley, there are places to stay, a store, and a bus route. This is one of the parking lots, it is the lot for the general store.
Yosemite has places for you to camp in a tent, or you can stay in a "tent cabin" that is a semi-permenant structure. They also have cabins, and there are apartments for the workers, and there is a hotel or two, and there is a deluxe hotel called the Ahwahnee Lodge.
Because the Yosemite is surrounded by mountains, almost every trail leads uphill. They range in steepness from very steep to super steep.
One of the hikes leads to the top of Yosemite falls, so again, that's a hike with an altitude change similar to climbing all the way to the top of a New York city skyscraper twice.
On my first day I found myself on a hike up to Vernal falls, a really nice waterfall with a trail wrapping around it and up to the very top.
I don't have a lot of experience with my legs getting tired, but climbing 2,000 feet up a mountain was exhausting. I had to stop several times to rest.
As the trail approaches the face of the waterfall, the trail is steep, so there are rock steps. They are frequently wet with mist from the crashing spray of the waterfall, so this is known as the Mist Trail.
This is right out of a Tolkien novel. I was exhausted walking up these 900 wet steps, with the sound of crashing water rumbling ahead. It is epic.
When you see the Vernal falls trail, you might not realize you are going to climb to the very top of the waterfall, and that once you reach that, you are going to keep going up!
Above the falls, this flat stretch of granite had a wide river of water racing smoothly down it. It looked fun, but this water fell 400 feet down a cliff just around the corner.
Please Continue Reading Page Two of Yosemite Vacation