When I last wrote about our recent trip to Yosemite, we’d been up to Glacier Point but were itching to get away from people. Unable to hike the Panorama Trail due to a sore ankle and some unexpected, but very welcome rain showers, we simply enjoyed our view of Nevada and Vernal Falls.
The following day – thanks to the hard work of 864 Fire Personnel – significant progress was made in containing the El Portal Fire, thus reopening Big Oak Flat Road and making the high country accessible in time for the last day of our trip. Our first stop was Olmsted Point, where we had a magnificent view of Clouds Rest and Half Dome.
These giant granite boulders (called ‘glacial erratics’) were randomly placed here long ago by the melting ice of retreating glaciers. Also notice the surface of the slope – the granite surface was polished smooth by ice, much like sandpaper on wood.
Windswept trees growing up and around erratic boulders are an unusual but not uncommon sight. These trees sprouted from seeds deposited here by wind or by small animals taking shelter in the crevices under and around these boulders.
After exploring this surreal landscape in the hot mid-day sun, we were ready to relax along the peaceful shores of Tenaya Lake (surface elevation: 8,150 feet) with our cooler full of cold water, red seedless grapes, gouda cheese, proscuitto and hard salami.
As much as we hated to leave this little slice of heaven, we packed up after our picnic, but not before taking a refreshing splash in the lake. After a brief stop at the Tuolumne Meadows Post Office, we drove straight to our long awaited destination: Dana Meadows (elevation: 9,728 feet), not far from Tioga Pass.
Finally, we had a found a corner of Yosemite that was blissfully quiet and devoid of people.
Unlike other peaks in Yosemite, Mounts Dana and Gibbs are reddish-brown in color; erosion has revealed that they were once part of an ancient volcanic mountain range.
More evidence of past glacial activity: randomly placed boulders and kettle holes.
Much to my delight, this sub-alpine meadow was a carpet of wildflowers in late July.
When you decide to visit Yosemite National Park, please remember to leave no trace behind. Pack out all of your trash and never feed the wildlife. There are so few places in this world that are untouched by humans, let’s all do our best to keep the wilderness sacred and pristine. And please, I beg you, lower your voice. Better yet, stop talking altogether and just listen to the sounds of nature. Immerse yourself in the experience.