June 11th, 2010 – Yosemite National Park – Valley & Grove

We started out today in the valley again, as we wanted to see Yosemite Falls.  It’s a waterfall so high it has to take a break and rest twice in the course of its descent. It’s a 2,425 foot tumbler, tallest in North America and fifth tallest in the solar system. Ten times taller than Niagara or Shoshone Falls, nearly twice as tall as the Empire State Building, it’s about the height a 200-story building would be, if somebody ever built one.  Seeing  all the waterfalls at full flow was one of the reasons we wanted to come to Yosemite in spring.  This waterfall is often dry in late July through October.

Yosemite Falls from the Valley

We parked in Yosemite Village, and was going to take a free shuttle bus to the Lower Yosemite Falls trail head, but after getting on one, and it dropping us off somewhere way far away, and then getting on another one that ended up dropping us off back where we started from, we just decided to walk to the trail head.  It only ended up being 1 1/2 miles round-trip from the village.  It was a nice walk through the valley, where you could see the falls at the beginning and the end, with nothing too spectacular in the middle.  When we got to the footbridge, Scott had to hold on to his hat, as the spray was so forceful, it would have blown it off!

Kids in front of Lower Yosemite Falls

Next we drove on Glacier Point Road, which had only opened a week prior to our visit, because of being covered in snow.  One of the hikes I really wanted to do at Taft Point, was still so snow-covered that we ended up turning back, and just going to Glacier Point.  The views there were awesome.  Seeing Half Dome from the other side, and Vernal and Nevada Falls all in one shot was just gorgeous.  It was a crowded place, but we still spent a bit of time here, just soaking in the view, before heading back down the 16 mile Glacier Point Road to head to Mariposa Grove.

Half Dome, Nevada & Vernal Falls from Glacier Point

Mariposa Grove was what the kids had been waiting for, for days.  Scott had told them about the huge sequoia trees that he remembered seeing when he was a kid, and the kids were excited to see them for themselves.  Mariposa Grove is the park’s largest stand of giant sequoias, with about 500 large mature sequoias.   We visited the lower grove, and some of the upper grove before heading back to the car.

Some of the highlights of this trail:
The Fallen Monarch, was the first mind-blowing giant we passed on the trail, it is massive and dead.  The Monarch remains available for viewing on the spot where it fell, and hundreds of people each day are photographed in front of its upturned base, which reaches some 15 feet across.

Fallen Monarch

The Bachelor and Three Graces are a quartet of sequoias you’ll pass just after crossing the tram road. The roots of giant sequoias are shallow, usually less than six feet deep, but spread over a large area – half an acre or more for a mature tree.

The Grizzly Giant is the grand patriarch of Yosemite sequoias and the clear star of the Mariposa Grove. It’s 30 feet in diameter at the base, more than 90 feet in circumference, and has a single limb a hundred feet up that’s bigger around by itself than the trunk of nearly any other species of tree.  The Grizzly Giant, at an age of 2,700 years, was first casting its shadow at about the same time the ancient Greek and Roman states were founded. It was already hundreds of years old when, among others, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, and Plato were born.

Grizzly Giant

The California Tunnel Tree is about a hundred meters past the Grizzly Giant. It’s the only living sequoia in Yosemite with a man-made tunnel drilled through it. The tunnel is 6 feet wide, and 8 feet high, which was carved out for the benefit of tourist-bearing stagecoaches in 1895.  The kids had fun walking through the tunnel.

California Tunnel Tree

The Faithful Couple are two large trees have fused together at their bases, but remain clearly separated above.

The last tree we visited was the Clothespin Tree.  Numerous fires have excavated a natural tunnel wider than a car through this tree.  Our kids looked itty-bitty standing in front of the opening.

Can you see the kids standing in front of Clothespin Tree?

This concluded our trip to Yosemite.  In the 3 days, we spent at Yosemite, we hiked about 20 miles of trails in the park, and had a most wonderful time seeing all the waterfalls at their peak flow, and seeing all that Yosemite has to offer.

We have 3 albums in the gallery from Yosemite, split up into each day we hiked.  There are also 3 blog posts, one for each day we spent in Yosemite National Park.

June 9th blog post – Yosemite East
June 10th blog post – Yosemite North & Valley

Yosemite National Park – East album
Yosemite National Park – North & Valley album
Yosemite National Park – Valley & Mariposa Grove album

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