Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Yosemite Atlast

After coming to the USA I heard many times about Yosemite. Most of my friends in the USA already visited Yosemite much before I set foot there. I heard the beauty of the place from them but I didn’t get opportunity to be there. One night in November in 2009 my husband and I was planning for our vacations in 2010. We started planning for Yosemite. But due to higher price of hotel we were delaying our plan.

Suddenly in the afternoon on 29th April,2010 my husband told me about the plan to visit Yosemite National Park next day when he came home to have lunch. I became stunned. I didn’t know how to manage everything without any prior plan for such a long trip. But he asked me to make that possible. Our plan was that to start very early in the morning. I prepared food for next 3-4 days. It was 11:00 in the night when I finished packing. We went to bed at 12:00 midnight. We couldn’t sleep properly. We woke up very early in the morning and I prepared breakfast. My son also woke up and he took his breakfast. He was really a good baby and fully cooperated with me.

 Marced River

When we started at 5:45 in the morning next day from home it was dark outside. We faced little traffic in freeway 210 but later we drove smoothly. On our way when we reached Taejon pass which was a high mountain road and was densely cloudy, thankfully we didn’t face any difficulty in that road. We decided to take break at Bakersfield but we changed our plan and took a break at Tulare much before of Bakersfield as my son suddenly became very restless. I thought that we could reach around 12:00 but my husband told me that before 1:30 pm there was no chance to reach our destination. The road became narrow and there was no sign in the road when we reached freeway 49. We couldn’t understand that whether we had been going on the right direction. There was no option to take ‘U’ turn in case we were on the wrong route so I became a little nervous. The road stared becoming narrower. Due to the speed limit my husband had to drive in the speed of 20miles/hr. Then we reached freeway 140. That was a very scenic road with Merced River on one side and the mountain on the other side. I never saw a mountain river before.

The beauty, the force, the roaring sound of the river was beyond any description.  People were rafting in Merced River. My husband suggested rafting but I didn’t accept his proposal as we could not go rafting together because of our baby. We crossed a very narrow bridge during our journey on highway 140. First we couldn’t understand why there was a bridge like that. Then we found that part of the 140 highway became blocked due to rockslide in past. After sometimes we reached our hotel ‘Cedar Lodge’. After taking lunch we set out for the park. Before entering the park we stopped at a turn out to see the roaring Merced River. From El Portal road we took south drive. After crossing the Pohono Bridge we went to the famous Bridal Veil Falls.  As it was Friday there was no crowd and we could see the fall nicely. However we couldn’t enjoy the beauty together as my son was sleeping in the car. That was the first waterfall I have ever seen and I was completely overwhelmed.  As my baby was sleeping we decided to take a drive through the park. We passed the El Captian, the single largest granite in the world. We also stopped at Ribbon Falls and Horsetail Falls whose beauty was beyond description. We passed Cathedral beach and Sentinel Beach picnic area and reached Swinging Bridge over Merced River which was an excellent spot to view the Yosemite Falls. The bridge was close to Yosemite Village and near the trail head for the Four Mile Trail up to Glacier Point. From there we reached a small meadow. When we went to Yosemite in the early spring, the valley was strikingly green and vibrant. Before Yosemite I went to few National Parks but I found that Yosemite is totally different from the others. It had something which was attracting me. We passed Yosemite Lodge, Housekeeping camp and curry village. After vising Upper and Lower Pines camp ground we decided to visit The Visitor Center. According to the map we reached Yosemite Village but after reaching there my husband made some mistakes and we reached the park exit. There was no option to take ‘U’ turn. The Yosemite Police force was very strict. We couldn’t take any decision what to do. For few moments we waited on the side of the road then very cautiously my husband took a sharp ‘U’ turn and we reached Yosemite Village again. But we couldn’t find the Visitor Center. We stopped near a building and found that was actually the court house. Then another building we stopped and we found that nothing but the police station. We hurried back from there. Then we decided to park our car in Yosemite village and I set out on foot to find out the visitor center. At last I found that out. We climbed few steps and after a small trail we reached the Visitor center. There I found some exciting fact about the Yosemite rocks. Yosemite granites were born of intense heat miles below the earth surface when formerly molten rock material solidifies and is subsequently exposed by erosion.

Bridal Vail Falls

Swinging Bridge

Big Meadow

That time it was already late and the visitor center were going to be closed, we decided to come back to hotel. We stopped at a turnout to see the Merced River again. The sound of water in the sweet light of onset of dark made a mystical environment. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of that. On our way to hotel we stopped at Horsetail falls also. During the journey I saw many trail head but we didn’t have time to take any of the trails.

My husband was very much interested to do rafting. However I didn’t want to at all. Still he went to enquire about that. When we reached the office that was already closed. One person was in the office but we were unable get much information from him. We came back to hotel, totally exhausted. After freshen up ourselves we started planning for the next day. Suddenly my husband enquired about next day’s breakfast plan. But I totally forgot to arrange anything for next 3 day’s breakfast. Anyway my husband chalked out some plan for breakfast.

Mirror Lake

Lower Yosemite Falls

 Half Dome

The next day we started at 8 o’clock for the park and our first destination was the mirror lake. Again the sound of the river and the tranquility of the forest pulled me to another world. My husband alerted me to take the photo of the arch way on the entrance of the park but unfortunately I was unable to take the photo. We boarded the shuttle bus to the trailhead of the Mirror Lake. It was 1.5 mile long trail but the road was not so difficult though it was a mountain road. The lash greenery, the river and the mountain altogether made a heavenly feeling. As we started early the road and the lake was almost empty so we could view the lake and enjoy its beauty. There was not much water in the lake. I read on a board there about the lake. It was written there that much before the lake used to be grazed to remove the sand from its bed which usually deposited due to erosion. The sand was used on the icy road in winter. Now the grazing had stopped and the depth of the lake has been gradually decreasing due to erosion. Our next destination was Yosemite Falls.

 I was very much interested to go hiking in the Happy Isles trail which had eventually had same trailhead of Mirror Lake. Due to lack of time I dropped the idea and we went to see the Half Dome, the park’s most recognized symbol. The towering formation, which looks like a dome with its left side slashed off. I heard many times about Half Dome from my friends who went there before me. I was dying to see that. Once a wild thought came to my mind to take the trail to Half Dome, but I satisfied myself by watching that from distance. That was a lifetime experience to me. From Mirror Lake trailhead we took shuttle bus to Yosemite Falls. On the way we crossed the hotel The Ahwahnee, the Ranger’s residence and reached the Lower Yosemite Falls trailhead. We reached the Lower Yosemite Falls easily as the trail was small and easy accessible. I was really amazed to know that those roaring falls in Yosemite dried out totally in the autumn. We spend sometimes at the bottom of the beautiful Lower Yosemite Falls. The sparkling water reached our face. To my much disappointment my husband resisted me to take the trail to Upper Yosemite Falls. That time we were also getting late. We hurried back to the trailhead. We didn’t wait for the shuttle and we walked all the way to the Visitors’ center where we parked our car, carrying my son in my arm. That day I walked total 5 miles with my son in my arm. When we reached the Visitors’ center it was already 1 o’clock. As we were already late, we changed our plan and started for Mariposa Grove from there without going back to hotel. We went to Bridal Vail Falls again which was on the way. To my great astonishment there was a huge line for parking there which was totally empty on Friday. My husband tried hard to park the car but lastly when we gave up we got a place. So we went to through the short and steep trail to reach the bottom of the falls. My son who was screaming few minutes earlier started sleeping in my husband’s arm. We couldn’t stand there for long in the fear of getting drenched. We started for Mariposa grove without knowing what was waiting for us on the way. My husband drove on many mountain roads so I was very confident on him. I never felt scared. First we reached the Tunnel View point. We got down from the car and we saw the Half Dome and Bridal Vail Falls again from a different angle. The huge granite mountain was looking awesome. We didn’t wait there much as we had to a long way. Again we started from the Tunnel View point. The Tunnel was exactly 1 mile long. Our actual journey started after crossing that. This time I realized how dangerous could be mountain roads. The road towards Mariposa grove was extremely narrow. On the top of that the inclination of the road towards the gorge on the right hand side. Even when in Haleakela, in Hawaii my husband drove the car in such a narrow mountain road in the dark whose elevation was 10,000 feet. I didn’t feel such fear in any of our journey in the mountain roads. Whenever my husband was taking turn I had a feeling of falling down to the gorge. I was sitting in the car speechless. My husband couldn’t increase the speed above 4o miles/hour. When we reached the History center I felt that we got back our life. So when my husband refused to go further to the grove I readily agreed with him. When we reached the History Center my son was sleeping. So my husband and son remained seated in the car and I went to see the History center. Any historical thing always attracted me so I didn’t wanted to miss the opportunity. The History center was a collection of old buildings, cabins, a horse stable, stage coach, Fresno scrapper, road grazer, fire fighter, a covered bridge, and a jail.

Covered Bridge

Those things were more than 100 years old and was originally scattered around the park. The various structures were moved there in 1950s and 60s. The covered bridge was built on the south fork of the Merced River which was restored time to time. Crossing the bridge I saw the Chris Jorgensen Artist home, Hodgdon homestead cabin, blacksmith shop, cavalry office, ranger patrol cabin, Wells Fargo office, Degnan bakery, powder house and jail. The powder house later converted into jail. The jail house was actually a tiny room house with a rickety steel cot. In 1915 two young car thieves escaped from there by digging the mortar between the rocks with the legs of the cot. After visiting the History center we decided to come back. That time our journey was much safer as the gorge was on the other side of the road. I was relaxed and concentrated on watching the both sides of the road. We stopped at a turn out at the south fork of the Merced River. After spending few minutes again we started our journey. First we crossed Chilnualna creek and a fall, most probably Chilnualna Falls. Then we crossed Mosquito creek, Alder creek, Bishop Creek and we reached Yosemite West. However we decided not to go there. Then we reached Chinquapin, the starting point of Glacier Point road which was closed at that time, the road was kept closed from November to May. Again we reached the Tunnel View Point. This time we could see a heavenly view of the Bridal Vail Falls with a rainbow. The beauty of that was beyond any words. I just wanted to spend the time there as long as the rainbow could be seen. I tried to take the photo of that but unfortunately I couldn’t manage. But I know that photo was kept in the camera of my mind. I could see the image the view anytime when I closed my eyes. It was late afternoon and was becoming very cold. We came back to our hotel and decided to take a walk along the Merced River.

Our plan was to go to Hetch Hetchy Point  the next day. We started early in the morning. I packed our lunch.  My little son was very cooperative. He drank milk and started with us. I didn’t have any hassle with him. We started our journey on CA120 or Big Oak Flat Road. We crossed 2 small tunnels. The road was very narrow but no dangerous like Wowona Road on previous day. We reached the Cascade Creek. In the early morning I got the chance to take glimpse of the mind blowing Cascade Falls, where the water was cascading down from above. As soon as we crossed the burned forest we could see the snow covered areas. We crossed the Craned Flat and we reached the Tuolumne grove. The trails of Tuolumne grove and Hodgdon meadow was closed due to snow. After reaching to Big Oak Flat entrance of Yosemite Park we decided to turn back. The road was going to become narrower compare to the CA120. So my husband didn’t want to take risk to go on Evergreen road and HetchHetchy Road. We again went to Tuolumne grove. My son already woke up that time. As soon as I put him in the ground he jumped into water in the potholes, wetting his socks and trousers. We didn’t spend much time there. From there we went to Merced Grove trailhead which was closed due to snow. Then we went to Big Meadow overlook. From the top of the mountain we got the scenic view of the Big Meadow. After sometimes we stopped to another turnout near a bridge. I became completely speechless by the view of the Merced River, the Bridal Veil Falls and the Yosemite View Lodge together. Again we could see the Half Dome from another angle. We saw three parallel falls from the bridge, unfortunately I didn’t know the names. We came to the Cascade Falls again and spent few moments there. After that we came to the Yosemite Valley. After finishing lunch we went hiking to upper Yosemite Falls which was actually a 6 to 8 hours dangerous journey. My husband was not at all interested as it was an impossible task for us with a baby. However just for giving company to my madness my husband agreed to go. We decided to go Colorado Rock which was half way to the final destination. First I took my son in my arm. After sometimes my husband put him on his shoulder. But after sometimes I felt that my husband had been feeling tired so again I took my son in my arm. We crossed the crooked and hilly road in the mountain before we reached the part of the road which was full of rubbles and was very steep. My husband simply denied going further. So we came back and took some rest at the trailhead of the falls. Before coming back I went to museum while both of them remain outside. There I came to know about the native Miwok people of Yosemite.

Next day we started our journey back to home at 4:10 in the morning. The road was pitching dark and not a single vehicle could be seen. It was very scary to me. I was very keen to see mountain lion and bear but to my bad luck not a single one came on our way. To our amazement my son had been sitting for 4 hours in his seat quietly before we got down from car to have our breakfast. We reached home at 10 o’clock in the morning with beautiful experience of Yosemite Park in mind.