Water and meadows play important roles in creating the National Park that is Yosemite.
Even as we marveled at the virtual permanence of the cliffs of granite, we welcomed the breaks that the water, tree groves, and meadows provided.
The Merced River winds through Yosemite's Valley. This photo was taken early in the morning, and the reflection of sunlight off the nearby trees provides a golden color to the water.
This sandy area along the riverbank was one of the few areas offering easy access to the water.
This stretch of the river nearest the Park's entrance was unusual in that there was a good amount of water flowing over the rocks in the river.
Most river beds were not flowing with as much water and the waterfalls were a shadow of their power compared to the rush of water in the Spring due to the snow melt.
We had intended to arrive early so that we could hike to Vernal Falls while it was still relatively cool in the Park, but we were drawn to these scenes of the river. We fell behind our schedule.
We stopped at the Swinging Bridge trailhead and caught this reflection of one of the cliffs in this shallow pool.
Next to the photo above was this grove of trees. This would be a welcome trail in the heat of midday.
Along the .80 mile strenuous, uphill hike to Vernal Fall was this creek. The river bed of rocks gave a good indication that this was not the "snow melt" water flow.
Even though the trail to the Falls was paved, frequent rest stops were necessary.
This was the view from the Vernal Fall Bridge, and even though we knew the water flow would be reduced at this time of year and that an arduous portion of the trail continued to the top of the Fall, this view was a bit disappointing.
Returning down the trail and rounding a bend, I was greeted by a black bear on the narrow trail. I was more concerned about avoiding an encounter than taking a photograph, so you'll have to take by word for the danger that this bear posed.
Besides a photo would reveal that it was a bear cub which had no interest in any of us on the trail and which calmly crawled over the low wall on the trail and vanished into the brush.
Bridalveil Fall lived up to its name. Because the amount of water was significantly reduced, a strong breeze could create an interesting effect. Here the water falling is blown about, creating a misty cloud as it descents.
When a strong gust of wind came up, it blew a cloud of white mist upward. From below, it appeared as though the bride's veil was being lifted. An unusual, unexpected effect.
A final type of contrast to the granite walls are the meadows of the Valley floor. The meadows in these next two photos offer a break from the harsh wall surrounding the meadows.
The contrasts within this relatively small area of Yosemite are few, but they are significant; and yet, these contrasts fit together perfectly into one magnificent array of sights.