So, here’s another weekend and we were off on another escapade. This time – Yosemiti – Sierra Nevada. First a little bit of history about Yosemite. Yosemite means literally “those who kill” (Yos, “to kill,” the modifier e, “one who,” and the plural suffix -meti). It was used by the surrounding Miwok tribes. The Yosemite people were referred to as killers by these surrounding tribes, who feared them. Yosemite is pronounced yo-SE-mea-tea.
Suresh and Senthil PK (PSK) came over to my place by 5:30 am. Myself and Senthil KV (SKV) were already ready and packed up. We started off immediately. We had google map printouts and Sierra-Nevada maps with us. And we lost our way!!!! But we managed to reach the Yosemite through another entrance. The entire route was very sunny and hot.
Enroute we stopped at Mariposa (means Butterfly in spanish) County which had a tourist information center. The Forest Rangers adviced us that the Tioga Pass and the El Portal pass are closed and redirected us on the forward route and we started up the mountain as per their maps. Driving through the winding narrow roads with really tall trees on both sides was a real pleasure. Just before the entrance to the Yosemite Park, there was a long queue of vehicles paying at the counter and entering the area. We joined the queue after almost 1/2 hours slow movement arrived at the gate and payed 20 USD (fee for a permit to enter and be in the Yosemite Valley for a week).
Our first stop was the Glacier Point. The drive to that place was too good. At the gate, we were at a height of 4000 ft above sea level and after driving for nearly 1/2 hr we started seeing the first signs of snow. The sun was shining bright but the air was cool. We couldnt believe to see snow here as just about 2 hours ago we were feeling really hot from the summer sun.
Before we reached the glacier point, we drove past various vista points and we stopped at one-from where we could see the top most peaks of the Sierra-Nevada. I personally would have liked to stop at all the vista points and visit the small lakes in the mountain. But, we didnt have much time and also the other guys in the team were interested only at the end point destination. They had no intention of enjoying the beauties enroute. Two of them were asleep most of the time.
At glacier point , we visited the restrooms and he souvenier shop. They also had a food spot from where I picked up a cheese sandwich (which was the worst food I have had ever since birth). I wonder how can man make such awful tasting stuff. They might have had good stuff on the non-veg side, though. From the shop, the Glacier Point is a 1/4 mile hike.
The Glacier point is 7000 ft above sea level. It seems that during the Ice Age, snow had covered up the entire mountain range upto a feet of 9000 ft. Which means the spot we were standing at, would have been deep under the surface during that time. At the end of the Ice age, the snow started melting and the huge glaciers started moving carving a valley out of hard granite rock leaving behind the ‘hanging valleys’ of Yosemite. Thats the history of the place. After spending some time looking at the Yosemite Valley below and admiring the beauty of one of nature’s masterpieces, we started heading towards the Yosemite Falls. To get up close to the falls we have to drive down the mountain and get to the Yosemite valley floor. And thats just what we did.
The 2600 ft high Yosemite Falls was a unique experience. I have been to a place called Thenkasi-Courtalam in Tamil Nadu – India which has more than 8 diffferent waterfalls. Each of the waterfalls is unique and has medicinal values. Also, I have visited the Athirpally-Vazhachal waterfalls in kerala and many more. So, this is not my first experience at a waterfalls. But, still Yosemite was different. First of all, considering the crowd it attracts every year, they have maintained the place very very clean and pristine. The crowd there also seemed to be disciplined and knew to respect the nature. There was no one taking baths in the waterfalls or the streams flowing from the falls. This would have been a common scene with any waterfalls in India where I have witnessed people taking baths, using soaps and detergants, washing cloths and leaving behind most of the garbage.
The source of the Yosemite Falls is the Yosemite Creek and the Merced River. These form sources to other waterfalls like Vernal Falls, Moonshine Falls etc. We couldn’t see those as we didn’t have time and were in a hurry to get back. Started from Yosemite falls at 5:15 pm and headed back. The return route was the Highway 120 and different from the one we had used to get there. The drive back was breathtaking and simply awesome. As I was driving and nobody else in vehicle were interested in taking the effort to click and capture digitally, the beautiful road and the winding mountainscape, we dont have any pictures to remind us of this experience. Anyway, thats an oppurtunity lost for the time. Maybe I would get a chance to visit it again. As my friend Arijit (he has been to Yosemite more than once) states “It still feels like heaven”. 🙂
Some pointers for those who wish to visit Yosemite. Start Early in the morning. Check out their website for whats closed and whats open (In winters some areas are off limits due to snow, rock slides etc). Yosemite IS NOT a one-day trip so plan for atleast 2 or 3 days if you really want to make it worth worthwhile. Have detailed maps of Sierra-Nevada and California with you. Have atleast persons in the vehicle who can drive.
And we kept on driving for the next 4 hours without stopping even for a break and we reached back at our place by 9:30 pm. Right in time for a light dinner and hitting the bed after long eventful day. Where to go next? hmmmm….. 🙂 …. lets see……
For more photos, click HERE.