Friday, our last day at Yosemite National Park!
Good news, everyone was well and able to spend the day in Yosemite.
We were so glad to have had this much time in the Park, but four days is not enough! I do wonder how much time would be enough in such a place! There is so much beauty and wonder to see and experience. Miles and miles of trails - even of easy trails for babies and grandmas, to say nothing of the difficult trails for serious hikers and climbers. Towering granite monuments to tiny delicate flowers -everywhere you look there are lovely marvels. And this is certainly not a look and run on kind of place. There is so much to see, hear, feel, savor. I felt that in four days, we had barely made a beginning.
Mirror Lake. The shuttle driver said it was a moderate hike. The trail is paved up to the lake. Part of it is a bit steep, but people can even bike up there - with their own bikes. Rental bikes have a stopping point part way up just before it gets really steep. And I could not bike up that hill. But supposedly some people do. People with amazing leg muscles.
Of course, Mirror Lake was beautiful. The reflected images were lovely. Several of us were even more fascinated by a rock amphitheater full of little inukshuk-like rock sculptures. A few of us added to the collection.
After lunch at picnic tables near the parking lot, we went to Vernal Falls. This is the same trail that goes on to Nevada Falls, the Mist Trail and, for the hardiest, on to Half Dome. It is slightly less than a mile to the bridge below Vernal Falls. A steep-ish fairly rugged mile despite it being all paved. If there ever had been any doubt, this little trek clearly established that I am not Half Dome material. I barely made it to the bridge.
When we were planning this trip, we thought that some of our hardier members would climb Half Dome. Perhaps fortunately for the park and environment, but unfortunately for us, permits are now required to climb Half Dome. A couple of us were on line as soon as permit registration opened, but we were not quick enough. All the permits were taken for the entire week of our trip before we could get to it. As it turned out, it didn't matter anyway. There is still snow on the dome, the cables are not yet up, so nobody climbed Half Dome permit or not.
After being in Yosemite and seeing Half Dome from various vantage points, and having struggled to hike less than 1/8 of the trail, I am vastly more impressed with Benjamin and others who have made the climb. It is most certainly an accomplishment of note! Also, having seen it and having heard more about parts of the trail, I am retroactively frightened. Especially as a couple of weeks ago a hiker slipped to his death on part of the upper Vernal Falls portion of the trail. Too bad for me. Andrew hopes to return and climb Half Dome some day.
Most of the guys along with Sariah and her girls continued up the trail a ways. Sariah and Acadia turned back, but Ryan, Tom, Andrew, Benjamin AND Aurora (!) hiked to the top of Vernal Falls. Those of us who stopped at the bridge didn't know they were going so far. Eventually we went back down the trail intending to reconfigure the car/passenger line-ups and leave them to follow whenever.
Joseph and I left the others briefly to go visit the fen (marsh). Pretty and lots of birds, but evening was falling and the mosquitos were becoming active. On our way to the fen as we passed by some garbage cans along the road, we met a slightly distressed young woman trying to look inside the bear-proof containers. She had lost a little stuffed bear she had had since a child (and who frequently posed in her pictures) and thought someone might have picked it up and thrown it away. (I thought about my sorrow at losing my purple cow.) Joseph figured out how to open the bear-proof cans but there was no bear. (Of course! - the garbage cans were "bear proof") We parted company a little sadly, but she went check to see if it had been turned in at the Visitor's Center. Just as we were about to get on the shuttle heading back into Yosemite Village, she popped up smiling and showed me that she had her bear! I was happy for her and glad that we bumped into each other again and could share her joy.
Incredibly, somehow we all managed to reunite at the shuttle stop and catch the same bus back.
We stopped at Yosemite Store, then walked back to our cars savoring our last few minutes in Yosemite. It is a hard place to leave.