OK, show of hands. How many of us first heard of Yosemite from Looney Tunes? C'mon, reach fer the sky fragnabbit! On those childhood Saturday mornings Yosemite Sam introduced us to the name but he had nothing to do with the National Park.
Friz Freleng just liked
the plumb western sound of California's premier park for his loud-mouthed,
sourdough, going-off-all-half-cocked, six-shootin' little fella.
Fifty-odd years of Saturdays later yer flea bitten GypsyNestin'
varmints finally met Sam's namesake.
Coming into America's second National Park from the south,
on route 41, offers a sensational entrance to the valley.
Our first glimpse of Yosemite was from the famous Tunnel View. Engineers specifically laid out the tunnel when building the road to create an incredible scene framing the Yosemite Valley to perfection. Almost looks as if the view was painted on the
|As we descended into the valley, the 3,593 feet of El Capitan filled our field of vision with it's sheer cliff of solid granite. A profusion of perpendicular precipices is what Yosemite is all about.|
mere million years ago, snow and ice piled up in this area
in a manner that made a Buffalo, New York winter look like
a vacation in Hawaii. We're talking deep. Like four thousand
When all of that ice commenced to head downhill, even solid granite was no match for its scouring power. The ice carved out the Yosemite Valley and left vertigo-inducting vertical cliffs behind. Quite a dizzying display.
As a classic example of the U shaped erosion that glaciers
create, the valley is a haven for waterfalls. In the spring
-- when the snow melts -- literally hundreds of them cascade
over the cliffs. These ephemeral waterfalls disappear, then
reappear after a big rain but many permanent falls remain
The most famous in the park and the highest in North America, Yosemite Falls drops 2,425 feet in a double cascade to the valley floor. Ribbon Falls has the highest single vertical drop, coming in at a whopping 1,612 feet.
|The Park provides trails that lead to fantastic viewing spots at most of the major waterfalls. We partook of the Yosemite Falls and the Bridalveil trails. Both are relatively easy hikes that most any tenderfoot can handle and well worth the spectacular vistas and Bridalveil was a blast...|
|Further up the valley the landscape is dominated by Half Dome. The name says it all, it is an enormous granite dome that has been sawed in half by a titanic river of ice. The carving left a 1,360 foot vertical face that wasn't scaled until 1957. For those not inclined to go|
Choosing to view the dome from safely below we could almost hear Sam bellowing, "Haul your flea-bittin' carcasses up that mountain, ya long-eared galoots!"
watching the setting sun light up Half Dome --from gold to
red -- with the full moon rising behind the mountain had to
be as good as the view from the top. How could anything
be better than as good as it gets?
Maybe we should have tried to scale the dome though, since luck seemed to be with us. Not only was the
|In honor of the holiday, The National Park Service presented an historical tour of Yosemite's cemetery. We searched the graveyard for jack-o'-lanterns marking the final resting places of important early residents of the valley. At each grave our witch hat wearin' interpretative naturalist, Emily Jacobs, gave us a brief history of its occupant|
Emily introduced us to folks like Lucy Brown, George Anderson and Galen Clark.
Lucy, said to be 120 years old at her death in 1924, was one of the last native Americans living in the valley when it was "discovered in 1851. Emily made sure to point out how important the valley was to the native people and that it wasn't really "discovered" since it had long been occupied.
Anderson, came to Yosemite from Scotland in 1867 and was
the first person known to climb Half Dome back in eighteen
and seventy-five. He left his ropes in place for the daredevils
that followed and they're still
The stories weren't meant to be spooky and of course, we were never shaking in our boots, but then, we did have a couple dozen other people with us.
in the All Hallow's Eve moonglow by campfire a little later,
we heard something stirring in the woods. What could it be?
Ghosts, goblins? Sam? It certainly was something that goes
bump in the night.
The lunar light revealed a large black furry creature lumbering through the camps. Great gallopin' horny-toads! That ornery fur-bearin' critter was one of them bears we'd been warned about constantly throughout the park. They're real and a bit scary in person.
alarm went out. Shouting, banging on pots and pans and the
waving of torches (that's Brit for flashlights in this case)
drove the creature from our midst. We were much like the villagers
in a cheesy old horror flick sending the poor
monster back to his lair.
When calm was restored and the village
David & Veronica,