There is nowhere on earth like Yosemite National Park. Yet, the last few years I have assiduously avoided this paradise in granite. I've grown weary of National Park crowds and craziness (see my commentary on Zion). I go to nature to reduce my anxiety and sadness not to increase it.
A couple of years ago we stayed in Wawona in July and visiting Glacier Point felt a lot more like Disneyland than the wilderness. The only reason we went was that I wanted to be sure my daughter experienced it before she ran off to college. I really didn't know when I'd be back but, it is, after all, one of the most stunningly beautiful places in the world. In the valley, looking up at the granite monoliths, one becomes overwhelmed by the staggering size and sublime scenery. It literally brings tears to the eyes. It's just that spectacular.
Last year I wrote a blog post about my favorite National parks and started to think about going camping again in Yosemite perhaps during the off season or my favorite mountain month- September. I knew that getting camping spots was problematic and I would have to plan on reserving online at 7:00 AM five months before I wanted to go. The Yosemite website suggests making sure that your clock is set correctly when attempting to book a site. Yeah. It's that intense.
So...I lucked out and got a spot in Upper Pines campground for a week following Labor Day. The campgrounds were full but the Park was, relatively, quiet compared to the June, July and August just as I'd hoped. Unfortunately there were two large wildfires burning nearby which obscured many views and limited my photography. Still it was magnificent Yosemite. Here are some black and white images I made on the trip.
The first few days I walked around the valley and drove up to the Tuolumne Grove, got to know my neighboring campers, hiked a bit, and kicked back while trying to find sun for my solar panels. On Saturday my dear bay area family; Kara, Steve and Jack arrived. We walked up to Happy Isles and had a marvelous dinner. The next day we spent in the Valley and sunned in one of Kara's favorite childhood spots along the Merced River. That following day Kara and Steve hiked up Yosemite Falls while the old guys, Jack and Jeff, drove over the Tioga Pass and had lunch in Lee Vining. Here are some more images of the trip. The first image was taken the night I arrived - a cloudy and smoky sunset.
If you look closely at the next photo you'll see Kara about to take a dip in the Merced River. The weather was perfect and warm that day but that night we were treated to a rocking and rolling thunderstorm.
Yosemite alone? Remarkable. Yosemite with people you love? Even better.
Since the Park was so smoky I think it merits a quick return trip, don't you? May sounds like a delightful month before it gets too crowded and while the water is running high. I better go back. In the meantime I'll leave you with a panorama of a soggy mountain meadow along the Tioga Pass in John Muir's "Range of Light".
This will mostly be a journal of my travels. I may include other items that interest me. Feel free to join in.