After a great sunset at Glacier Point and camping outside the park I went back to Yosemite Valley to explore some more areas and spend time along the river.
The valley is incredible because instead of looking out over grand vistas you’re looking up. El Capitan is beyond impressive and I can’t wait to go on a climbing trip and get to experience it from a climbers perspective. Although my climbing skills are not at a level capable of climbing the 31 pitches up The Nose, which is considered one of the best climbs in the world, my skills are at least adequate for some shorter routes. Climbing El Capitan is definitely high up on my bucket list.
But there’s more to the valley than El Capitan. There are beautiful meadows, the river that flows through and so much more. Yosemite Valley is a valley extraordinaire. Now granted I was there early in the morning when it was still quiet and I got the place to myself.
Once you enter the actual village of Yosemite Valley you have to park and then jump on a free shuttle to access some of the amenities and several trail heads. You can also bike or walk. The village has it all. Cafe, general store, gas station, mechanic shop, post office (old style version, super cool), and anything you need to stock up. There’s also paid internet access at the cafe in the village should you need it. The valley is also the only place that has any kind of reliable cell phone service.
Tip: plan ahead which exit you need to take by looking at the map before you start driving the loop in Yosemite Valley. The drive itself is a circle with exits to the village and to get out of the valley. Now, if you are like me, don’t pay attention to such details beforehand you get to see the loop a few times. The view is worth it though.
After a fun, early morning round in the circle and along the river I decided to do a walk/hike to Mirror Lake, located between the Half Dome and North Dome. I had seen pictures of it and definitely wanted to check it out. It’s about a two hour walk from the parking lot, less if you take the bus to the trail-head as that saves you almost a two mile walk. The trail is mostly flat with a few quick hills.
Unfortunately due to the drought in California (this year they only got 20% of normal snow pack) Mirror Lake was more like a large puddle. To my surprise I was the only person on the trail even though it was late morning. It was just me and lots of mosquitoes. And probably a mountain lion or two watching me as I was hiking on the trail.
There is still so much more to see in Yosemite and I can’t wait to go back. Yosemite holds more than just the landmarks we so often see representing it. There’s prairie land, sheer cliffs, mountain lakes and a different kind of grandness. And that’s why I travel. Because you can only experience so much through photos you see taken by others. True experiences can only be experienced in person.