A Weekend In Yosemite

Saturday, June 4


We woke up reasonably early, and waited till 7:00 AM for the downstairs continental breakfast to be served. When we actually went down, we learned that breakfast was at 6:30 AM instead. Since our Super 8 Motel was 43 miles from the park entrance, it took us quite a while to get there, only to find a line of about 15 vehicles waiting to enter ahead of us. To make matters worse, I had been unable to find my Golden Age Passport which would allow us all free entrance. I had to buy another one, which thankfully, was only $10.

We went first to Bridalveil Falls. It did not resemble a veil at this time, because the unusually heavy snowpack of last winter was melting, making all the waterfalls run spectacularly full. This was probably the reason for the huge number of visitors to the park on what is usually a quiet weekend. We parked along the road, since we had missed the entrance to the parking lot, and walked up to the falls. The stream away from the falls was full to overflowing, as were most of the streams, rivers and waterfalls. It was impossible to reach the customary view point, because the paved trail had become a river. I was hesitant to expose my digital camera to so much moisture, so took only a few hand-held film shots looking up at the falls.

Bridalveil Falls in two views, and its downstream flow.

From the safe distance of the roadway, I tried a few more shots.

Across the road was another waterfall that rarely had water in it at all, but now had a beautiful and substantial flow, Ribbon Falls. There were waterfalls everywhere, including places were there are never any falls at all. Water just flowed down between trees and rocks, all over the place.

Ribbon Falls

Not far down the road we actually found a parking space near Swinging Bridge. The Merced River had so overflowed its banks, that the usual riverbank was inundated with still water which had no place to go. In this still water was a reflection of Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls. The bridge was lined with people taking pictures and walking back and forth, but there were two photographers photographing the reflection of the falls. I set up slightly behind one of them, and began to photograph this incredibly beautiful scene with every technique I had.

Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls Reflected in the overflowing Merced River

This took me quite some time, so Art and Melanie meanwhile walked across the bridge to the Yosemite Lodge and explored around there. I was so engrossed in my photo making, that I did not see them leave. When at last I was finished, I looked around for them and, unable to find them, began walking back toward Bridalveil Falls, to see if they had returned there. In looking back every so often, I did see them coming. They had seen me first, so it was a nice meeting.

Yosemite Falls from Swinging Bridge

By this time, cars were parked everywhere in the area, with others waiting until someone left, so that they might claim the space. We realized how valuable our parking place had become, and decided to just leave the car there, and walk or ride the bus wherever we wanted to go. We walked over the Swinging Bridge to Yosemite Falls, and admired both the beauty and the power of the pounding water.

Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls

There was beauty in detail also, so I photographed the Upper Falls, then the Lower Falls separately.

Upper Yosemite Falls (left), and Lower Yosemite Falls (right)

Yosemite is 2425 feet high, the tallest in the United States, and the fifth highest in the world. Yosemite Lodge was just a short walk across the street, so we went to their cafeteria for lunch. Fortunately it was not very crowded when we arrived, but soon many more people arrived, and soon there were no more empty places. Lunch was good.

After lunch, we decided to climb to Vernal Falls. It seemed better to leave our car where it was and ride the bus, than to drive around and around hunting for an open parking place. The bus was jammed, and not all the people could get on who wanted to. Another bus was scheduled in 1/2 hour. The bus moved very, very slowly because of all the congestion. The mess was further complicated by construction.

Vernal Falls Mist Trail was rated as fairly easy, but I found it anything but easy. It was however, breathtakingly beautiful, in more ways than one. From the trail we could see Illilouette Falls, seldom seen with water in it. Now, however, it roared with the sound of the rushing water.

Illilouette Falls seen through a opening between the trees.

We also saw a place where the water was rushing, even though it seemed not to be a customary waterfall; just water falling over the cliff. We decided to name it "Melanie Falls" for Melanie.

The newly named "Melanie Falls"

At last we reached Vernal Falls! The roaring of the water was easily heard long before we reached our destination. Like all the other waterfalls, Vernal Falls had enormous amounts of water rushing over. After having seen it with barely a trickle of moisture some years ago, it was amazing to see such a huge supply of rushing water! It had great force also. Even the very large boulders had been partially submerged by the force and volume of the water.

Vernal Falls with its rushing waters engulfing even enormous boulders

Art and Melanie decided to climb the Mist Trail to the brink of Vernal Falls. It is always a wet trail when there is any water at all flowing, so now it was much wetter than usual.

The Mist Trail is always steep and slippery, and wet.

I started walking back down, since I go much slower than they, and I wanted to stop for some pictures of Illilouette Falls, and whatever else there might be.

Illilouette Falls showing its stream below the falls.

A closer view of Illilouette Falls. Notice in the center picture how far the spray extends from the base of the falls.

There were many people going up and down the Mist Trail to Vernal Falls. There were even more waiting at the bus stop for the shuttle bus. The first one was unable to board everyone, but another came fairly soon. We got on, and spent the next hour completing the 15 minute ride back to where we had left our car. By then, it was supper time, so we had supper in the Yosemite Cafeteria.

It was already getting late, and soon the sun would set, so we returned to our car. Starting out along the one-way road which encircles the valley floor, we stopped briefly at Sentinal Bridge for a view of Half Dome, as the colors of sunset began to develop.

Half Dome At Sunset

Just before exiting the park, we stopped again VERY briefly at Gates of the Valley turnout, which provides essentially the same view as the famous tunnel entrance, but at the level of the Merced River.

Gates of the Valley and Bridalveil Falls at Sunset

I believe this is "Ribbon Falls" which flows only at times of very high water.

Art enjoyed the view

It was a long 43 miles around those mountain roads back to the motel, but a wonderful day in Yosemite.

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