A highlight of our trip was a drive up the west coast from Los Angeles to San Francisco and on to Yosemite National Park. Helen decided to take time off and drive us. The west coast was beautiful, similar to our Great Ocean Road, and San Francisco was eye opening, especially the Golden Gate Bridge and nearby Muir Wood, but nothing prepared us for the beauty of Yosemite National Park.
Our first glimpse was of a waterfall in the distance, looking back through a steep valley in the mountains. Yosemite is part of the Sierra Nevada Range—varying from 2000ft to 13000 ft above sea level. The park includes alpine wilderness, groves of giant sequoia (red woods), and a long valley caused by thousands of years of weathering and erosion due to glacial action. Rugged peaks and huge round granite domes were formed, and waterfalls and lakes, amid wide meadows and pine forests.
The next day was overcast with very light rain, but that didn’t deter us from roaming round the many tracks and visiting lakes and waterfalls. We were amazed by the huge Half Dome with the sheer vertical face which attracts dare-devil rock climbers, and El Capitan, formed by glacial action, and one of the largest monoliths in the world. We felt so small standing at their base and gazing up at them, feeling that our life time was a mere blink in time!
There must have been thousands of people in the Park, yet they were not noticeable, there was a feeling that we were almost alone. Even the lodges were hardly noticeable tucked away behind trees. We stayed in a lodge at the base of Yosemite falls, the highest in the park. Notices warning guests not to leave any evidence of food in their cars were everywhere, with photos of bears breaking into cars, ripping out windows and seats, to get to food. We did an expert job of picking up every sesame seed that had fallen off our bread rolls.
During that night I had vague recollections of loud thumps and crashes. At daylight I raced over to the window and was amazed to see snow everywhere. The noise had been snow and ice crashing down the waterfall. Snow on the granite peaks made the view even more spectacular, and the dogwoods blooming in the snow so pretty.
From here we moved down to the Mariposa Grove, the home of the world renowned giant sequoia. I'm sure these looked even grander covered in snow.
We trudged through snow to the California Tree, which had a hole cut through the base for a stage coach to pass through. I remember seeing photos of that tree in an old Phillips Atlas when I was at state school, and here I was standing under it! We gazed at these trees in awe! How old could they be? Some similar trees, coastal sequoia, in Muir wood, had been estimated to be around 2000yrs. These trees had survived fires and droughts.