“Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space.”
― Ansel Adams
The glitter of green and golden wonder, stone and space had a hold over me. I just can't explain it.
Unfortunately, at this park, we were not able to secure a reservation at a campground inside of the park. Apparently, if you want to do this, you have to reserve a spot as soon as the reservation system opens. Like at 12:01 am that day. Because we were not those people, planning this trip about 2 months in advance, we found a place called Yosemite Pines...which totes itself as being located at the "gateway to Yosemite".
|Yosemite pines also offers panning for "|
On our way in, we caught views of Half Dome and El Capitan. Towering slabs of granite as far as the eye can see. Majestic.
|NOT El Capitan or Half Dome.|
On the advice of one of the physicians I worked with this summer, we set out that day to hike the Mist Trail, which happens to be part of the John Muir Trail - inspiring in itself. I wanted to do the entire 14 miles (round trip) all the way up to the area where you can summit Half Dome (to summit now requires a permit), but because we had gotten there so late, we just hiked as far as we could. We also took a brief look at lower Yosemite falls, which wasn't much - a trickle compared to what we were about to see.
The shuttle system in Yosemite is *amazing*. We took a shuttle a few miles down to Happy Isles, where we began our adventure that day. Happy Isles, as I found out, is the trailhead where most southbound John Muir Trail hikers start their 212 mile journey to Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the contiguous U.S. at 14,505 feet (which also requires a hard to get permit to get to).
After a brief "warm up" at Happy Isles, our hike took us up. Way up.
|The vert here was NO joke.|
It was so gorgeous. We passed Vernal Falls and the rush of the Merced River. The hike then took something of a turn that reminded me of the stairstepper at the gym.
It was steep with loose dirt and a little crowded in spots. Louis and I somehow separated from Ryan and got to a place where there was a lot of people standing around looking into the water. That's when someone asked us if we saw the bear? (This would become a very common theme during the trip.)
|Look in the middle - BEAR!|
As the ranger had told me in Sequoia National Park, black bears come in three colors; blonde, brown and black. Something I had not known! These bears are pretty much harmless and this one didn't seem to mind the crowd. This was such a great experience for Louis and I to see together. Unfortunately, Ryan missed out on the bear, but plenty of cool things awaited us later that day.
|Guess who's feet didn't hurt? Boots or Altras? Altras for the win!|
|Yep. Straight down the waterfall.|
|The evidence of the "slip and slide" in the background.|
|Ryan & Louis' "yoga crow"|
|Me, doing actual yoga.|
|We could've played here all day!|
|A rainbow farewell.|
When we got back to Happy Isle, we took the shuttle back to our RV (so, so easy!) and headed back to Yosemite Pines. We had a short moment of weakness where we considered staying at Yosemite one more day instead of heading to Oregon as planned the following day, but with both of us really wanting to see Columbia River Gorge, we stuck with the original itinerary and packed up the next morning.
I think I stayed up until 3 am that night reading and researching about Yosemite and the John Muir Trail. Sometimes true inspiration can be so difficult to find. I honestly think the word inspiration is loosely overused, but being in this vast expanse of wild was true inspiration (at least for me it was). I felt like I took a piece of that trail with me.
“Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.” -John Muir
I know why John Muir so loved the high Sierras and this wilderness, there was something so magical within its granite walls, valleys and meadows. Every step took you to something different, something even more enchanting.
Yosemite National Park and the JMT....we'll be back - this was only the beginning of a whole new adventure to come.
Stay tuned for the next installment of the Butler Adventure 2016 - The Columbia River Gorge.