Christian Kemp's USA travelogs

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Entrance sign at the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias in Yosemite National Park I can't pretend to have seen a lot of Oakhurst beside our motel and the fuel station right next to it. After a short drive, we enter Yosemite N.P. via the South entrance. We proceed to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. The weather is excellent, very nice temperatures, blue skies, not a cloud to be seen.

Some of the giant sequoias have shapes or features that inspired people to give them names such as Grizzly Giant, Faithful Couple, and Clothespin Tree. We're different from most other tourists there in that we walk faster in between sights, but take more time at specific places. This is also largely due to my taking lots of pictures, whereas a typical tourist will just take one picture, usually with all family members somewhere in a corner, trying to smile and pretend they are having a good time.

It's pretty difficult to do these enormous trees justice in a picture, partly because at 38mm I cannot always seem to fit them in one photograph, partly because the camera over-exposes the sky because it gets confused by the large contrasts between trees/leaves and the sky. I also photograph a number of animals, although the ones that I get seem to be pretty commonplace in the parks. For me, as a European living in the city, these are unusual sights though.

Fallen Tunnel Tree would have been more impressive if it hadn't collapsed half a century ago. Nowadays, it seems people have taken an interest in walking on it - despite regulations indicating otherwise - or just resting in front of it, oblivious to other people's want to take "nature" pictures (rather than "unknown tourist eating sandwich in front of tree" pictures).

Looking at Half Dome, Vernal and Nevada Falls, and the Yosemite backcountry Sometime around 1pm, we proceed to Washburn and Glacier Point, where I take an awful lot of pictures of the valley, Half Dome, Yosemite, Vernal and Nevada Falls, and whatever else I can find.

On our way to Yosemite Village, we stop at Tunnel View and Bridalveil Falls. The former is well-known for its view of the valley with Half Dome in the background, the other is impressive because the little water that is coming down is being swept in one direction or another depending on the wind.

We proceed to check in at the Curry Village, but after seeing the queue, I decide we should head for Vernal and Nevada Falls first. Vernal Falls are rated at 3 miles and 1,000 feet elevation, whereas Nevada Falls are at 7 miles and 2,700 feet, not counting the walk from Curry Village to the Happy Isles trailhead, and back.

We start our ascent in the shade, as the shadows of the mountains around the John Muir trail already grow larger, and arrive at the Vernal Fall footbridge pretty soon. Vernal Fall can be seen from here, but I feel pity for those tourists who just took one picture with their small throw-away cameras and then turned around. Even at 380mm, I was barely able to fill a frame with just the water fall.

Part of the "Mist Trail" and Vernal Fall We took the Mist Trail to the base of Vernal Fall, and contrary to what I had read in other trip reports, the steps were not slippy. Very steep yes, but I guess the low water flow of a dry summer had one advantage... I took a very large number of pictures of the Falls from different perspectives and zoom ranges, including close-ups of the rainbow at the base, which came out remarkably well.

After a short pause at Emerald Pool, we continued our ascent towards Nevada Fall, but quickly decided that it was too much distance to cover as evening approached. In the end, we decided to return via Clark Point, which offered a different view of Vernal Fall and the ascent still offered several occasions to look at Nevada Falls. The way down was rather tiresome though, and whereas I had been leading on all our previous hikes, now I was the one trailing behind.

We arrived back in Curry Village just as the sun was setting. The queue for check in hadn't gotten much better. While standing in line for 45 minutes, I had a nice chat with a guy from California who was running a company specializing in wireless transfers and had run up to Half Dome some twenty times in his life. By the time I arrived with the keys, it had turned completely dark, and as there are no lights in Curry Village and our tent cabin was the furthest away from any road, I was glad to have brought one small pocket light. I'm not sure how we could have coped without.

We didn't see any bear, so if that's what you're planning to see in Yosemite, you might be disappointed.

Miles driven: 86mi (138km)

Motel/Hotel Accommodation: Curry Village Tents (Curry Village, Yosemite National Park, CA): $48.13