I woke up early this morning and took a shower at the campsite. I went to the office at 7:00am to pay and the owner said "I'm not gonna charge you. Do you want some coffee?" What! So kind!!! She is an older woman and she told me about the great memories she has of her dad, who was a true outdoorsman and also a painter. After we chatted for a bit I was on my way with the singular mission of getting a campsite in Yosemite.
I passed the beautiful Mono Lake en route to the east entrance of the park. Driving Tioga Road was pretty amazing...the Sierra Nevada range is unlike any of the mountain ranges I've seen on this trip. I don't have any photos from this leg of the drive, but as soon as I hit the mountains I was in awe. I didn't realize I'd still been recovering from my Six Week Slump until I hit these mountains and felt alive, awake, and inspired again. It's hard to describe...but I instantly felt so good about being here. I wish I could post a video I took of this drive to give you readers a glimpse, twisting and turning and climbing through the rocky Sierras along this road.
I got to the entrance and drove through Tuolumne Meadows on my way to White Wolf. Campsite full. Got nervous and headed down to Yosemite Creek campground, nervous that all others were full. The road down to the campsite was the longest half hour of my life. Saying the road was in poor condition is an understatement. Basically one way, so many bumps and deteriorating pavement, and steep. My van is a trooper. I reserved a campsite for one night just in case, but thought to myself there is no way I am doing that drive twice a day. Luckily I found a spot at Porcupine Flat down the road. Something different about Yosemite - "no water" in Yellowstone means no flush toilets or showers. "No water" here means no water at all. So water was my next mission.
As I drove through the park into the valley, I could hardly believe it. I remember my fellow Fellow Amanda saying on the last stop of her trip in Europe that she never really thought she'd make it there. That's how I feel about Yosemite...it was always so far in the future, it never seemed like I'd actually BE in Yosemite. So I really experienced awe on many levels today. With Yosemite always looming in the distant future, this is also the least planned leg of my adventure. I dedicated today to read through my Bierstadt book, talk to a ranger, and map out my time here. Jesse at the Visitor Center answered ~a lot~ of questions with the expert knowledge and experience I have found in all park rangers.
I took a short walk over to Yosemite's Upper and Lower Falls, which are delicate and graceful as they flow over massive granite rock faces. The upper falls are some of the tallest in the world. With the drought, I am lucky to see any water going over these falls. John Muir built his home at the base of these falls for two years. At one overlook is a really nice plaque dedicated to him with the quote: "Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy while cares will drop off like autumn leaves." Muir's descriptions of nature are incredibly life like and personified. He describes nature as therapeutic, as friendship. The trees in this forest are unlike any others I've seen. Red trunked conifers with warm green needles. The green is more yellow and warmer than other pines. They stand with wide girth and tall stature, reaching toward the sky. They are large but don't seem so big when placed among the mountains.
My hike brought me to more Muir quotes and plaques: "As long as I live, I'll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing. I'll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the avalanches. I'll aquatint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, and get as near the heart of the world as I can." As near the hear of the world as I can. Do I have a new life motto? A new one sentence artist statement? Quite possibly. After this hike I realized that although I am visually following Bierstadt's journey in Yosemite, I am spiritually following Muir. I am very happy to be here.
|Bierstadt's painting of Mono Lake|
|My first view of the Sierra Nevada mountains!|
|Can't believe I made it to YOSEMITE!|
|Gymnast tree doing the splits. On a rock, too. Ouch.|
|High Sierra! Amazing...|
|Crazy mountain tree|
|Upper Falls - just happy there's water on it with the drought.|
|Upper and Lower Falls|
|Sketch of the Lower Falls|
|Walked to the Lower Falls|
|Unique granite rock formations.|
|Unique granite rock formations.|