Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Range of Sights

Not a pretty sight . . . ,

but it could have been a lot worse. Our departure from Lodi (CA) was delayed due to a radiator hose that wandered away from its assigned post. Fortunately, we were near an exit off I-5 about 10 miles south of Lodi. Even more fortunately, we were able to find this very wide street near the exit ramp, so we were not at risk for any more serious damage or injury.

So, one more day in Lodi waiting for a replacement part; then we were off to Groveland just 14 miles from the west entrance to Yosemite National Park.

Our first stop in the Park was the Visitor Center. The model showed the relatively small valley (seven square miles) surrounded by the massive granite walls. Ninety-four percent of the Park's 1,169 square miles is designated wilderness.

Half Dome (top, center of the photo) and El Capitan (below Half Dome, left, center of the photo) were two prominent features of the Park.

Just a short park shuttle ride to one of the twenty-one stops brought us to these sites.

The walls of granite seemed to rise perpendicularly from the valley floor.

This dead tree seemed to blend in with the shades of granite, and

this resident of the tree seemed oblivious to our presence.

In 1864, although not designating Yosemite a national park as such, the Yosemite Grant created a reserve (to be administered by the state of California) that was the first federally protected natural area in the world.

Thanks largely to the efforts of conservationist John Muir and his colleagues, Yosemite National Park was created in 1890.

One of our first stops on the shuttle was Sentinel Bridge for this view of Half Dome.

We wanted to hike and take photos while it was below 90 degrees, so we were out in the morning. Our recommendation is to visit Half Dome from this viewpoint in the late afternoon or early evening when the formation reflects the setting sun and seems almost golden.

In the 1860s, John Muir advanced the hypothesis that the sheer granite walls were formed by the advance of glaciers that carved the landscape.

Guidebooks in 1868 declared, "The summit of Half Dome will never by trodden by human foot." George Anderson reached the top in 1875, followed by countless others.

A separate shuttle took us to El Capitan. As we stood, mesmerized by the beauty and power of one of the world's largest rock monoliths, we noticed other visitors pointing to a certain part of the formation.

Then we saw a group of three climbers about midway up the sheer face of El Capitan. We learned that, depending on the route taken and the skills of the climbers, a climb can last between 3-7 days.

We decided to heed the advice in one of the Park's guidebooks: "Rock climbing is not recommended for the casual park visitor."

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