Yosemite – the perfect wind

Yosemite – the perfect wind

The next stop on my journey was the world famous Yosemite National Park. My actual plan was to spend a night there camping in the backcountry with my backpack, but the permits were so coveted and hard to get, that it wasn’t worth the effort. By that, I was in need of another plan. In the visitor centre, I gathered information about hikes that I could start from the road north of the famous Yosemite Valley. The valley itself I only wanted to discover on the next day.  In the visitor centre, I got recommended to go to the North Dome, from where I will get a sneak into the Valley. Sounded perfect! Next, I drove towards the trailhead, but from kilometre to kilometre I got more nervous.

Shades of smoke were already visible on the horizon. Oh no!

The smoke got denser and denser and at the parking lot, I could almost see something anymore. Besides me, there were several other people thinking whether it’s worth starting the hike or not. My mood hit the absolute bottom. Would the smoke really mess up my experience in the Yosemite Valley? That’s all bullshit! But nothing helped and I was there anyway, so I started the hike.

At least a little bit was always visible.

After almost half of the way, I passed the only natural arch in the National Park. Great, now I have seen at least something.

The only natural arch in the Yosemite Park.

But from up there I could already recognize it. The silhouette of the famous Half Dome. Over years this was the custom background of my Apple Computer, but now I was really there.

Peeking out between the trees. The famous Half Dome.

Maybe the view would get better from the North Dome. Only the feeling of being in this unique environment pushed my motivation again. Unfortunately, I took a bit too few water with me and already had passed all the small creeks at the beginning of the trail, so I hoped to find a spring or something similar. Ah, there’s one! I quickly filtered some more water and hiked on.

A water spring in the dry landscape. Nice opportunity for a refill.

Weird hike, it almost went down all the time. But it was like that because the road went over a high pass behind the valley. Soon, I arrived at the top of the North Dome. I wouldn’t get closer to the huge wall of the Half Dome. Hopefully, the smoke disappears a bit. The Valley itself was almost invisible, so much smoke was covering it.

There’s supposed to be the Yosemite Valley in this picture.

Nothing helped, I could just wait. So I lay down in the shades of a tree and enjoyed being here in the Yosemite Park. And as if the weather god meant it well with me, the direction of the wind was slowly changing. I couldn’t believe it. Better and better the Half Dome got visible and after a while, I even got some decent pictures. Very cool! At least I experienced this attraction pretty good now.

A little bit of a reddish shade stayed on the picture, that was caused by the smoke colouring the sunlight. But the view was very impressive.

Once I got back to the car I drove to the next picknick area and washed myself in the Yosemite Creek. After that, I read another chapter in my book, cooked dinner and finally drove out of the park to sleep there. I had planned to spend another day in the park tomorrow. That one started for me at six in the morning. I drove back in the Park and turned off towards the Yosemite Valley. Actually, I wanted to visit the Glacier Point, as my parents were up there back in the days. But the road up there was closed due to the wildfires in the park. So I decided to do the hike that everybody in the Yosemite National Park did. To the Vernal and Nevada Falls. At seven I finished my breakfast, had my backpack packed and started the hike. It took me an hour to get to the wonderful Vernal Falls.

I haven’t seen that many waterfalls that were as symmetrical as these ones.

I shortly enjoyed the vista and moved on quickly after that. Not even 30 minutes later I got to the foot of the Nevada Falls.

The other famous falls in the Park. The Nevada Falls.

And shortly afterwards I stood on above them. Nine o’clock, that wasn’t it, was it? Somehow the imagination didn’t let go of me to get to the Glacier Point. Directly from the Nevada Falls, a trail would go there. So why not? Because of the road closure, there won’t be so much going on up there anyway. Due to the hikes on the previous days, I really found back to my shape and I really enjoyed hiking up that mountain with a high speed. In addition to that, the chilly morning temperatures really lend wings to me and the Glacier Point quickly came pretty close. The way up there couldn’t have been better. First I could see the Yosemite Valley in the clear morning light.

The view from the Panorama Point into the Valley. Down there I started this morning.

Further on I got a great view of the Little Yosemite Valley and the Nevada and Vernal Falls lying below it, over which I just hiked up before.

From up here, the famous waterfalls didn’t even look that big anymore. But the landscape definitely was!

And where the hell did all the smoke go? And there was no single cloud in the sky. Man, I was so lucky, that the wind blew in another direction today. On the whole way, I always filled up my water at each creek that I crossed. That was highly necessary, as the sun started to burn down pretty strong. But it wasn’t far anymore. At 11:30 AM I reached the Glacier Point. And it was really not that crowded at all, the visitor centre was closed and there were only a few other hikers up there. Unbelievable. In the beginning, I had fear of getting overrun in the Park. But let’s get to the speciality of the Glacier Point. It’s obviously the view! The scenery, as it was printed on the park brochure, was in front of me looking almost exactly the same. This was by far the greatest vista I had here in North America so far. I know, I’m saying that quite often, but this will definitely become the header image of my journey through North America.

Keep this image in your mind, you will definitely see it another time as the header image of a post. This is absolute freedom!

For the way down I chose another, shorter trail that would lead me back to the main road. A shuttle would then bring me back to my car. And even this trail was another very scenic way. On the one hand, I could see the steep rock wall of the El Capitan, and on the other side the great Yosemite Falls, that fell into the Valley on the other side.

And finally a great view on the high wall of the El Capitan. Now I’ve really seen everything!

And just as I arrived at the bottom of the Valley, the smoke started to move in again. I was really incredibly lucky. Once the bus had brought me back to my car I took a shower on the huge campground and started my way back to San Francisco the same evening. A colder night close to the Pacific was enough of a motivation to drive long into the night. I would miss the Sierra Nevada with all its natural phenomenon’s, that was clear, but how do you say it? The show must go on!



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