June 8, 2012

Trip Start Apr 28, 2012
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Flag of United States  , California
Friday, June 8, 2012

This morning we headed to Yosemite National Park, 20 miles to the east. We had heard that Yosemite was a busy place, but didn't understand exactly how busy until we pulled up to the park entrance and saw the line of cars waiting to pay the entrance fee at the three toll booths.  Having the Golden Age Passport again proved its value as we passed through the toll booth without paying the $20.00 entrance fee. Yosemite National Park and the surrounding federal lands total over three million acres of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, with only a very small portion accessible to the public.  He headed for the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center which was about an hour drive into the park over mountain roads that wound around the mountain sides and with steep grades.  Our first stop was for a short hike to the base of "Bridalveil Falls", this was a towering waterfall that seemed to come off the top of the mountain, it was a beautiful site to see the mist being blown around as the wind changed; sometimes getting us wet.  Yosemite Valley was created millions of years ago through the tremendous upwelling of rock in the formation of the mountain range, the action of the river waters and finally the glaciers that moved into and out of the valley several times.  Many Indian tribes used the valley over the last several thousand years, leaving their mark on the landscape; and white settlers moved in and made their mark in the late 1800’s.  Our next stop was for lunch in a picnic area across the river from a beautiful meadow, where we also took a short walk.  We continued our drive around the valley periodically stopping to view the wonderful beauty of the rock formations, and the numerous waterfalls.  The Visitors Center was much larger than those in all of the other parks; having a theater, museum, gift shop, restaurant, nature center, and a replica of an Indian village.  Throughout the valley there were hiking trails of varying difficulties, and I can see why so many people are drawn to the park.  After leaving the valley we headed to “Glacier Point” that was billed by the ranger at the Visitor Center as the second most important point to visit.  Glacier Point was about an hour drive from the valley, through the mountains to an elevation of 7,214 feet.  The drive took us through 4 tunnels cut through the granite mountain side, 2 were short, but one was .5 of a mile and the last was .9 of a mile.  As we drove we could see the change in the varieties of trees and shrubs as we climbed, there was also an area that was severely burnt in 1990, and we could see how the forest was regenerating itself.  When we reached the summit of the mountain and saw the vista that stretched in front of us we understood why so many people endured the hazardous drive up the mountain.  What we saw was breathtaking; we were able to see the entire Yosemite Valley stretched out before us and the mountains on the north side of the valley.  We had a wonderful view of “El Capitan” mountain, the “Upper Yosemite Falls”, the “Lower Yosemite Falls”, “Washington Column”, “Half Dome” and numerous mountains further to the east, one that reached over 11,000 feet.  This was truly a wonderful day viewing some of the wonders of our world. 

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