Yosemite!

Departure

The trip was only for one and a half days at the end of September, so we set out early on the first day to maximize the time we could spend in the park. We watched the dawn as we drove from the Bay Area towards Yosemite. The trip was organized, in part, by Jonathan, the man in the orange shirt.

His digital took many of the photographs in this entry; my film camera took the rest. You can tell the difference by clicking on the photographs to access higher resolution versions. Mine show film grains when examined closely; his are more obviously pixelated.

Upon arriving at the park, we realized how popular it was when we discovered a parking lot and camera post…
…for the welcome sign!

Trees

Yosemite is home to many trees.
These trees were killed in a forest fire; they will decompose and become fertilizer for the next generation. Inside Yosemite, forest fires are allowed to burn. If they were aggressively extinguished, dense underbrush would continue to accumulate, and the resulting fires would be progressively more infernal and damaging.

Among other things, Yosemite is famous for its Giant Sequoias. Four of us are inside the stump of one in this photograph. The arch was cut through it after it died.

According to plaques placed in a grove that housed several of these amazing giants, Sequoias usually die because they uproot themselves. They grow too large and heavy for their root systems to remain stable. Below, you can see an example of such an overwhelmed root system with several humans for scale. I am the one in the yellow shirt.

Here is the trunk that belongs to that root system. According to the plaque, it will decompose for more than a century. I was strangely humbled to learn that human life is so brief that my body will probably finish decomposing before this tree trunk!

I also reflect on the somber realization that, as John Polkinghorn says in Belief in God in an Age of Science, “mortality characterises the whole universe itself.” If we wait far beyond the lifetimes of humans and trees, even the stars will die. However, I take great comfort in my faith that mortality is not the end of the story.

Valley

From a vantage point 7214 feet (2200 m) above sea level, we surveyed the valley after which the park is named.

For some sense of scale, look for the parked cars in the lower right portion of the photograph.

Above is a wider view of the valley from a different vantage point.

At the bottom of the valley, this is either a campaign to restore or renovate some part of the park, or it is a really ambition cosmetic surgery company!


Sweeping views of majestic granite formations stretching to the horizon were common in the park. When I can afford I wider angle lens than I currently have, I will probably buy one for vistas like this.

Camping

We camped overnight at Yosemite. The weather was excellent, but the night was mostly overcast, so we could not see many stars. Still, I was very glad to be camping again; I don’t get many opportunities to do it any more.

This is called a “bear box;” you can see the grey image of a bear on the white sign. Campers are required to store all food or other odoriferous items (e.g. toothpaste) in this boxes because they are inaccessible to bears. This prevents the bears from loosing their natural predatory skills. Storing food in cars is prohibited because bears will smash widows and tear off doors to get to the food. We did as we were told and never saw or heard a bear during our stay.

We cooked our dinner over the campfire. Our meal included hot dogs, bratwurst, and baked beans. I cooked the bratwurst, and it was very good. The beans were also delicious, but problems arose when we realized the no one had brought spoons.


We improvised by slicing a plastic water bottle in to pieces.


The solution was crude but effective.

Sentinel Dome

Sentinel Dome is one of many domes that tourists can climb at Yosemite.

This is one view from the top of the dome which is 8,122 ft (2,476 m) above sea level. It was the highest altitude we reached at Yosemite. Notice small yellow-brown object on the rock near the bottom of the photograph.

Closer inspection reveals that it is a small rodent something like a chipmunk. We saw several of these scurrying around the park.


Jonathan and Kristyn are sitting on the remains of a tree that gave Sentinel Dome some of its fame.

We posed for a somewhat unusual group photograph on top of the dome.Click on the image above to see a panorama of the view from atop Sentinel Dome

Half Dome

Half Dome is probably the most famous attraction in Yosemite. It appears on the California state quarter. We did not have time (and I, at least, did not have them ambition) to climb it.

El Capitan

El Capitan is another famous Yosemite rock formation that I will always associate with a falling Capt. Kirk.

Waterfalls

Yosemite is also famous for its waterfalls, although we arrived at the wrong time of year to see them at full flow. Two of them appear as white threads against the rock in the photograph above. At left is a photograph of Bridal Veil Fall. Apparently, at maximum flow, it is wide enough to spray all of the black rock that you can see behind the fall. I am not sure how, bu the water is responsible for darkening the rock.

One advantage of arriving when the fall was flowing lightly was that we could scramble over boulders all the way to the base. Using a convenient boulder as a mount for my camera, I captured the group photograph below. This was among the last sights we saw during our trip, which is why some of us look rather tired and disheveled, especially my hair.

Dinner On The Way Home

Return

Beams of sunlight seemed to point to Stanford as we drove back from Yosemite.


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