Yosemite National Park has always been one of my favourite places in the world and this trip didn't change that impression. Yosemite was the first National Park I visited in America and it had a profound affect on me, which continues to this day.
As we drove towards our hotel, we were shocked by the damage done to the park by the so called "Rim Fire" which had burned out of control in and around Yosemite in August the previous year (2013).
Burned trees along the road to Evergreen Lodge
We were happy to find that most of the park had been unaffected and was just as pretty and green as we had expected.
Accomodation is always hard to find in Yosemite and by the time we started making plans in February, everything in the park was sold out, so we stayed at a place called Evergreen Lodge just outside the park.
All the accomodations consisted of individual cabins set in a nice wooded area
Our family cabin was up a small hill.
The day after we arrived, we headed into the park to see the sights.
Mugging for the camera at one of the park entrances
There are so many fantastic views and images of Yosemite, it's hard to know which ones to include and which ones to leave out, so here are some of the better pictures.
Jenny, Sarah and Kristine with the valley behind them.
A great view of Half Dome from the side.
The valley and Half Dome from a different viewpoint, Glacier Point. Fantastic clouds!
Half Dome close up
Sarah and Jenny enjoy the view
Half Dome through the pine trees
The valley floor some 3000 feet below, from Glacier Point
After viewing the secenery from Glacier Point, we drove on to see the giant Sequoia Trees in the Mariposa Grove. They are so large and so tall it's difficult to get any sense of scale in a photograph.
The Grizzly Giant, thought to be the largest living organism on the planet and probably about 1,800 years old.
Some are damaged by fire. This one, called The Clothespin Tree has burned all the way through,but is still very much alive.
Some, like this one, were cut through deliberately, in the unenlightened past. This tree (known as the Californian) is still alive, although weakened by the hole in the middle.
Even after all these years, the wound is still "bleeding" sap
The museum is a replica of the cabin built by Galen Clark, who first disovered the giant trees and then lived amongst them to protect them from loggers.
The next day, we drove down onto the valley floor, to see the landscape from the ground up, so to speak.
Jenny and I rented bikes and took off around the valley floor
"Mirror Lake" was sadly almost dry, so no "mirror", but the view was still impressive
We stopped to look at the "luxury tents" at Curry Village - still one of the few places you can stay on the valley floor
We also stopped at a small building run by the Sierra Club, which has been active in the park from the beginning. It's run as a bookstore and information center and the nice people inside would have kept us there all day if they could.
Inside the Sierra Club building. Everyone inside (except us) was a volunteer.
As we rode on, we had a splendid view of Half Dome.
Half Dome from the valley floor
Jenny and bike in front of Half Dome
Although the Merced River was very low, we did spot people swimming, although we assume the water was still cold.
The Merced River - unusually low because of the drought
We met up with Kristine and Sarah at The Awahnee Hotel for lunch.
After lunch we returned our bikes and then spent some time in the Visitors Center before heading back to the hotel.
On the way back, we explored Hetch Hetchy Valley, which was originally considered to be as beautiful as the Yosemite Valley, but was damned and flooded in the 1920's to provide water and electricity for San Francisco. It's still controversial.
The Hetch Hetchy dam
Some of the valley which was flooded
A small amount of water is released into the river below, after generating electricity. Most of the water goes to San Francisco.
The next day and our last in Yosemite, Sarah and Jenny decided to have a slow day at the Evergreen Lodge and Kris and I went up into the high country to find a day hike. We started from White Wolf campground and at 9am, it was still chilly. However, walking soon warmed us up.
Our destimation was Lukens Lake which was 2.4 miles from the trailhead.
On the trail. Only one more mile to go
We had no idea what to expect and we were afraid the lake might be dry, like Mirror Lake on the previous day. When we arrived, we were delighted. Not only was the lake full, but there was no one else around.
Lukens Lake. OMG - could it get any prettier ?
Kristine dries out her coat, which got wet when her water bottle leaked
I explore a log which has fallen in the water
A plant grows in the hollow of a dead tree
A meadow grows at the edge of the lake - perhaps because it was lower than usual
I thought this was a wonderful place.
Kris did too, but she was a little more restrained
We really didn't want to leave, but another couple showed up (across the lake) and we felt we should give them some privacy!
On the walk back, we enjoyed the scenery, some of it lush, like a meadow and some of it harsh, like a fallen tree.
A lush meadow full of spring flowers
A dead tree with spiky branches pointing towards the sky
This guy obviously takes his hiking seriously!
After our hike, we continued to drive along the high road which leads to the Tioga Pass. We stopped to get a view of the back of Half Dome.
And again !
You can just see the climbers pulling themselves up the Half Dome cables
High up in the Sierras is a beautiful lake, Lake Tenaya. In this picture, you can just see it below the mountains.
Lake Tenaya in the distance
The lake is fed by the Merced River which was still flowing, although much lower than ususal.
At this point, we turned around and headed home, but turned off the main road to see a small lake called May Lake. It was obviously lower than usual, but still very pretty with nice reflections.
A rock reflects in the clear water of May Lake. The sky at this altitude (over 8,000 ft) is SO blue.
A gnarled tree near the lake. Can you see the face?
Finally, a last picture of Lukens Lake, for no other reason than I was really impressed. I thought the beauty and solitude of this lake represented the very best that Yosemite has to offer and I am determined to come back again at some time in the future.
Next day, sadly, we left Yosemite and started on our journey down the California coast towards Los Angeles