There are very few places on Earth that truly justify the use of a statement like “Words can’t describe”. For me, Yosemite National Park was the first of such places I had the chance to see with my own eyes. And I will attempt to describe how beautiful it was and what it made me feel. Wish me luck. :)
First, don’t ever look up what Yosemite actually means. The meaning of the word has nothing to do with the sheer beauty of this place. It is named after some of the old Indian tribes who lived in the area but it existed many many years before them, with all its grace. The park is one of the most innocent and majestic areas of our planet; deserving to be protected for thousands of yours from the harm of the most invasive species of all, humans. Whoever is reading this piece and is filled up with a strong urge to visit the national park, please beware of the potential impact you would have if you are not careful. This place is millions of years older than any civilisation and deserves to survive ours too.
We could only spare one full day for the most touristic part of the park to our already busy 10-day California trip. Therefore we decided to spend the night before at Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort, just outside of the one of the entrances to the park. The previous day we took off from Palm Springs, visited General Sherman at Sequoia National Forest and managed to make to the lodge well after sunset. Had we not have the gift of GPS at our disposal, we would surely be lost that night somewhere in the mountains. It was totally dark on the road and we could not even see the road itself.
Yosemite Bug is simple, unassuming and managed in the way it is rightly supposed to be. It has a hippie, free-love, peace-out type of vibe that we especially enjoyed.
As we were not experienced campers, we decided to stay in one of the tent bungalows. When we looked up to the sky, thanks to the absence of light pollution, it was full of stars, totally mesmerising. It was a very long day and we immediately fell asleep after a mushy bean soup supper. My sleep was so deep that I did not hear (thank God) the noises that came from the outside. In the morning, Esra told me that she heard rumblings of a bear outside of the tent. :)
We left at the early hours of the day and entered the park from El Portal Road, that follows the Merced River to the East.
We arrived the great meadows well before noon. We stopped by the great lawns, experienced the tranquil beauty of the meadows with the majestic backdrop of the mountains. One can just stay there for days and wake up amazed at every morning to the same scenery. I now wish that we had more time to fully embrace the beauty of the valley.
Sadly we learned that the route to Glacier Point was closed, due to forest wildfires that we had actually seen from a distance the night before. We also learned that some of the fires in the park are actually desirable as long as it is under control in the overall management of the forest. So, being unable to go to Glacier Point and shoot Half Dome like a typical tourist, we were left with another typical touristy option: Trekking the trail to the Vernal Fall. Well, the hike was harder expected but it was totally worth it. We made a promise to each other that we would come back, this time better prepared, to make the full John Muir Trail. Vernal Fall Hike was definitely a sight to see and worthy of many pictures.
After we came down back to the valley, we felt the need to dip our feet into the Merced River. The rock we sat on was a good spot to shoot Half Dome at the backdrop of the river and the trees.
Cold running water helped to ease tiredness of the long hike.
It was well after noon and we awarded ourselves with two hotdogs each from the trailer located right by the stone bridge on the river. Road ahead in our plan was a lot: We had to traverse all of the National Park to the east, as slowly as you need to be on the curvy roads, pass by Mono Lake and arrive at Lake Tahoe in the North at a reasonable time in the evening. So we slowly headed towards the exit, that would took us all the way from Big Oak Flat Road to Tiago Road, pass by Tenaya, Tioga and Ellery Lakes, to the exist of the park on the East before Mono Lake. It was first a climb to well over 3300 m, and then back to the altitudes of 1900m.
Leaving the National Park after only 7-8 hours of visit was not easy. It was a humbling experience to be in the presence of the Yosemite Her Majesty. After that day, my adoration with the nature is peaked and my determination in its preservation revitalised. We are merely ‘visitors’ of this gracious planet and places like Yosemite are true examples of this grace.