Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Matthew, Sharon and Yosemite

It was one year ago that Matthew and Sharon came to San Francisco as our first visitors. We didn't know it at the time, but they were on their way to Hawaii to get married. We were over joyed that they came back here one year later and celebrated their first anniversary with us. We love our new daughter-in-law! She has enthusiastically embraced her new family, and we have so appreciated this. She is interesting- and interested. And she also happens to be beautiful. We were delighted they were coming to see us again- and this time staying a bit longer.
They arrived on the 21st and on the 22nd we set off in the car heading for Yosemite for four nights in a cabin in the mountains.

Our first day in the park started at the top of the Yosemite Valley instead of the usual drive down into the valley. A friend from my work told me about a road that goes above the valley and provides amazing top down views. I thought that might be a good way to start and give us some perspective of the size of the natural wonder. Our first stop was at Taft Point which was about a mile hike from the parking area. It took us to an amazing vista overlooking the western part of the park. Here are a few pictures taken from the top:

The picture above is El Capitan, a rock wall that is over 3000 feet high. The first climbing of this wall was done 50 years ago this year. That effort took 42 days to complete. Most people who climb it now take 3-5 days to complete the climb, but two climbers have set numerous records climbing this wall. Their latest was just over 2 hours and 40 minutes!

Now Don's pictures of Yosemite are fantastic- But pictures cannot do justice to this place. If you haven't been there, it needs to be on your list of MUST DO's. The pictures above and below are of Yosemite Falls, or at least where Yosemite Falls would be if there was any water coming over them. Unfortunately at this time of year it is very dry in the mountains. There hasn't been much rain here since the snows of last winter and hence the falls were mostly all dry. In the closer picture below you can see the stained rock of upper Yosemite falls. It is a 1430 foot drop, one of the highest falls in the world.

This was our view to the west and the entrance to the valley. I believe these formations are called Cathedral Rock. You can see that we are quite high above the valley floor.

This is a picture of Sharon sitting near the ledge. I was quite a distance away from her.

The next picture is taken at the same place with Sharon still there but zoomed to a much wider view. This cliff was about 2000 feet straight down. I get a woozy stomach just looking at these pictures.

Taking them was even harder because I was on a different point a little higher, but at least with a rail next to me.

I watched as she leaned over the side of a cliff- and shot pictures straight down- But never fear- this is our rock climber! You can rest assured that I stayed far away from the edge!

From Taft Point we hiked back to the car and onto a second location call Sentinel Dome. It's a large dome shaped granite rock that is farther east into the park with views of the east end of the valley.

But we did make to it the top of Sentinel Dome which in itself was a bit of a climb. This wasn't a trail either, but just this big rounded, steep rock that we worked our way up. I can't believe I made it to the top. When we started and Don said we were going to climb to the top of this DOME, I really thought he was teasing- I mean you could see there wasn't a trail. But yes we did climb- and no there was not a trail!

Max loved the old tree that at one time has been growing out of the rock. No telling where it got it's water, but it was quite a reasonable sized tree before it died several years ago. Now it is on its side providing a perfect place to rest with a magnificent view. The tree was exquisite- and sitting also had it's reward. And from this perch on top of the Dome you could see on all sides the beauty of Yosemite.

From Sentinel Dome we had more views of both El Capitan and Yosemite Falls.

But we also got our first view of Half Dome. This is a mammoth piece of granite that towers over the east end of the valley. You can hike to the top, but it is a 16 mile round trip. The last 400 feet to the top isn't exactly a trail, but rather a line of steel poles put into the rock and connected by steel cables that you are supposed to use to pull yourself up the extremely steep rock. Needless to say, we passed on that little walk

All the pictures with someone- i.e. someone of us- in the pictures are mine. I didn't take many- Don and Matthew and Sharon were certainly on top of their game- besides I was trying to catch up- so instead of just "waiting" for me- they took more pictures. Guess it worked out for all of us.

Next we drove back down and into the valley from the west end. The road goes about a half mile through a tunnel before emerging with a full view of the Yosemite Valley in front of you. It is quite a view.

The picture below has El Capitan on the left and Half Dome on the right in the distance.

From this point there is also a view of Bridal Vail Falls, that is if there had been any respectable amount of water coming over the top. As you can see in the picture below, there was a little water coming over the cliff, but you had to get pretty close to realize it was water falling. This fall doesn't look very spectacular, but keep in mind that the drop is 620 feet.

Sharon and I felt energetic so we climbed up the granite rubble (boulders) to the base of the falls where there was a pool with the final cascade of water. For perspective of the size of this pool, look in the lower right hand corner where there are some tiny people climbing on the rocks. I tried to get a picture of them on the climb- but most of the time they were behind massive rocks- and when they would "pop out" for a moment and wave both arms- they were tiny specks up the rock and would disappear again before I could get a shot. And I couldn't capture both them- tiny specks they were- and the massive rocks they were climbing.

One of the positives about the timing of our trip was that we also got to see some fall colors. We don't get those in San Francisco and seeing maples, oaks, and dogwood in their fall colors was a real treat.

From time to time there was a place to rest along the way- but there is so much to see it was hard to pause too long.

On our way out of the park on our first day, we were lucky to have perfect weather and a great sunset that cast a beautiful pink glow on Half Dome. We were in the right place at the right time and got this great photo of the face of the dome reflecting the sunset. This isn't a Photoshop moment. It was the real thing.


Lucas said...

Good gracious! That is one glorious moment you captured there! I LOVE Yosemite and had one of the most amazing weekends of my life there bounding through the wilderness, so high on Mother Nature, scrambling over rocks, climbing up trails, dipping my toes in the pools and just sucking in all the outdoor goodness! So glad you guys got to enjoy it together. (Again, PEA GREEN!!!!)

Beyond The Strip said...

What a great picture of Half Dome, wonderful light! I can't wait for our trip in about four weeks!

The Life and Times of Poose and Hawk said...

Sharon is making me very nervous!

fiddleheads said...

great post for a great place. i loved being there and am so happy to have gotten to go with my family. it was super special to me.