Yosemite National Park!
Grandaddy of the National Park system.
We entered the park from the East and crossed over it to the West side via the Tioga Pass Road, which can sometimes be closed by this time of year if there's been enough snowfall. There was some snow left in the shadows from a week or so ago but the road had been cleared and most of it had melted off. The weather was perfect.
First thing I noticed was this cool VW camper van parked next to us at a scenic overlook.
Bridal Veil Falls, 617 feet tall! We love waterfalls!
When we parked to walk up to the base of the falls, the couple in the VW (from the scenic overlook) pulled in right beside us. Craig and Lee from Toronto were bussing around in the rented VW taking in some nature after attending a friend's wedding. Unfortunately, we only got to spend a few minutes with them as they needed to drive to San Francisco to return the van and catch their flight home. Canadians are such friendly, outgoing people: they said to look them up if we make it to Toronto.
We hope to see them on the second leg of our trip!
Check out Lee's art at http://leerichmond.org/
"Half Dome" as seen from Glacier Point.
The granite rock formations at Yosemite are magnificent and ancient. Originally formed miles below the surface from hardened lava, millions of years of erosion and tectonic plate activity pushed them to the surface and then glaciers smoothed and sculpted them. This valley used to be almost completey covered by ice....only the tip of Half Dome was ice free! (Incidentally, Half Dome should be called 80% Dome, only about 20% of it is missing. But "Half Dome" sounds much better!)
In usual fashion, we didn't have any camping reservations and most of the campsites were closed or full, even at this time of year, so we beat a path for the nearby National Forest and camped in the woods. Kipper loves free camping in the National Forest, no rules, no leash!
Next morning we headed to the visitor's center to check out some history and geology stuff. On the way we had a bear sighting. Pretty hard to miss as he ran right in front of the van! Slamming on the brakes and a swerve to the right we luckily missed it. The large black bear didn't even miss a step. It all happened so fast there was no opportunity for a photo.
About 15 or so bears get struck by vehicles every year in the park.
Glad we didn't add to that statistic!
John Muir, we like to call him the "Original Hippie". He was instrumental in the preservation of Yosemite and the creation of the National Parks system. He originally came to the Yosemite Valley as a sheep herder and later worked as a woodcutter running a sawmill where fallen trees were milled into lumber. He quickly fell in love with the place and spent the rest of his life lobbying to protect it. In the lower right corner of this picture, you can see him standing with President Theodore Roosevelt during a three day camping trip at Glacier Point. Teddy Roosevelt was the first president to push Congress to set aside land for public enjoyment, mostly due to John Muir's enthusiasm.
Yosemite Falls, highest falls in North America at 2,425 feet! It's fed by snowmelt and so is kind of thin right now because all the snow has already melted. Sometimes it dries up completely until snow returns, but in the spring this is usually a raging waterfall.
El Capitan, popular with rock climbers. The red arrow points to a climber.
There he (or she...) is!
The postcard shot!
Next: Tahoe with some familiar faces!