Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Bit of Kings Canyon and Yosemite

Joe, Ned, and Joe with Half Dome and Nevada Fall as a Backdrop

We left Sequoia National Park a little after 6:00 am to get to Yosemite as early as possible. I had tried to make reservations for a campsite in Yosemite Valley but they were completely booked. After some research I found that there is a first come first served campground south of the valley on the road to Glacier Point. That was our goal.

On the way out of the park we made a last stop in the Kings Canyon National Park section at Grants Grove to see the General Grant tree. This giant sequoia and its neighbors were initially protected in the 4 square-mile General Grant National Park created in 1890. In 1940 it absorbed into Kings Canyon National Park.

The General Grant tree is the third largest tree in the world and is the Nation's Christmas Tree and our only living national shrine, commemorating those Americans who have lost their lives in war. On the trail is the Fallen Monarch, the 124 foot long trunk of a tree that toppled many centuries ago and is now hollow due to a combination of fire damage and natural decay. A path runs through the whole length of the trunk. It was once used to stable the horses of a cavalry unit stationed there near the turn of the 19th century. This was really the only part of Kings Canyon National Park we got to see. Someday we will have to return and visit the canyon.

Joe and Ned Enter the Fallen Monarch

Ned and Joe With General Grant

After a short drive we arrived at Yosemite's southern entrance a little after 11:00 am and found out that Bridalveil Creek campground, where we were hoping camp, had spaces available. By noon we had the tent set up and we were ready to go exploring.

Yosemite National Park is a big park though most visitors only visit the Yosemite Valley. Bridalveil Creek, is located in the mountains that make up the southern wall of the Yosemite valley. It is also on the road to Glacier Point above Yosemite Valley which offers superb views including Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, Vernal Falls, and Nevada Falls. We started our exploration of Yosemite by heading there.

I have seen many pictures of the beauty of Yosemite especially those of Ansel Adams but to see it in person surpassed any picture. To see the shape of Half Dome jutting into the sky and the waterfalls with their constant low rumble audible to us on Glacier Point was indescribable. It was hard not to linger and marvel over the works of nature that were laid out before us.

Ned and Joe Rest After Clambering on Big Rocks

Pap-Pap Happy to be in Yosemite

Vernal and Nevada Falls

We left Glacier Point and went to hike an easy 2.2 mile round trip trail to the top of Sentinel Dome. Like Half Dome, Sentinel Dome is a granite dome. It is on the south wall of the Yosemite Valley and offers a full view of the valley. From the top we could see from El Capitain to Half Dome with Yosemite falls in the center. Joe got to climb Sentinel Dome twice because he had left his water bottle at the top.

After the hike we went back to camp for a dinner of hot dogs over the campfire and then returned to Glacier Point for a ranger program on the geology of Yosemite. We stayed and watched the sun set over the Yosemite Valley coloring the mountains followed by a nearly full moon rise over the Sierras. As we headed back to the car we made use of a mounted telescope to view the moons of Jupiter.

Sentinel Dome

Yosemite Falls from Sentinel Dome

El Capitain in the Background

Moonrise Over the Sierras

The Setting Sun Colors Half Dome

Sequoia National Park, CA to Yosemite National Park, CA, 164 miles 4 hrs 59 min

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