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Yosemite Valley Camping Trip

“One of the most beautiful places on earth.” Or so I overheard said by a visitor from Europe as he viewed Yosemite from Glacier Point. I’ve not traveled the world, but would tend to agree with this assessment. Though the weather was warm (we left during one of the hottest day of the summer), the heat only made swimming in very cold water, dare I say, enjoyable?

We left the very day school let out for the summer. It was a long, HOT drive through California’s Central Valley (100º+). But we made good time – despite my old 1988 Honda Accord overheating – and arrived at this natural wonder within four hours. The photo to the right is from the south entrance to the valley, taken about mid-way through our trip during our return from Glacier Point.

Visiting Yosemite during the late spring or early summer sure can pay off with dramatic waterfalls. I think Yosemite Falls (to the left) look incredibly different every day, particularly as the wind shifted. We enjoyed a view of the falls every day as we left our campground and headed out to explore the valley floor.

All of us, on the trail to Nevada Falls.

All of us, on the trail to Nevada Falls.

Our longest hike of the trip started at the campground and ended at Vernal Falls (the second fall in the lower part of the picture. The trail to Vernal Falls was a bit rugged, but lead us through a beautiful canyon with wonderful vistas. Ground squirrels begged along the side of the ’Mist Trail,’ and we chanced upon our nextdoor campers on the trail. Thanks to them for taking this photo of “The Boys at Rest.” It is hard to say how much time we spent at the falls. Chris seems to want to stay all day if he could. Next time we go all the way to Nevada Falls!

I had forgotten how the tremendous force of the falling water at Yosemite Falls’ base threw out a wave of wind strong enough pelt one’s face with mist and give flight to unsecured hats. We all enjoyed, however, “nature’s air conditioning” this day as it was quite warm. Perhaps our next visit will include a hike to Yosemite Falls’ cascades!

Speaking of warm, can you tell from the picture that the boys were a bit ragged? (When I mentioned the hot drive above, I meant it…try 110º through the Central Valley!) The hot weather and crowds did not help their mood that day. As luck would have it, our nextdoor campers and their boys were nice enough to allow Sean and Chris to enjoy their rafts.

One of the more fascinating aspects of our visit was an up close and personal view of the damage inflicted on Yosemite Valley during the floods of 1997. Throughout the valley there are signs hinting at the magnitude of the the flooding, as Chris illustrates in a photo below. He would have been underwater! One campground was wiped out, and cement barrier remain in their final resting positions after being tossed about by the floodwaters.

One of the most dramatic days of our trip was a visit to Glacier Point. The National Park Service and volunteers have revamped the trails and visitor center, and a snack bar has been added. All-in-all, it looks great. And the views remain awe inspiring. Half Dome dominates one’s view, but just as impressive are the sweeping vistas into the Sierra Nevada high country.

Despite their looks in one picture, the boys were ’totally wowed’ by the view from Glacier Point. We spent quite a portion of the morning looking over the side, trying to find our campsite far below. We also enjoyed lunch while there, and, of course, prowled the gift shop for a spell.

Yosemite Falls shows a different side from various points in the valley. I think the varying views of the valley’s namesake falls numbered in the high hundreds. Hard to believe that only the day prior were we buffeted by the winds of Lower Yosemite Falls.