We’d heard about them and had seen our share of photos. But some things you just have to experience in real life to truly appreciate.
So it is with the Giant Sequoias. The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias gave us a great hike and — as an added attraction — several close-up encounters with those towering majesties.
These deer didn’t seem bothered by the long strands of tourists on the trails — likely the result of many years without hunters to contend with — but they kept their distance just the same.
The California Tunnel Tree was cut in 1895, one of two that were cut — but this is the only one still standing. The other fell in 1969 under a record snowfall.
The huge trees were awe-inspiring, and their pinecones were what you’d expect: huge!
As with so many of our national parks, it was hard to decide where to hike and what to see. Waterfalls are numerous in the park, and they’re always a thrill to see, so we drove to Curry Village where we parked and started down the trail to Vernal Falls.
Much of the hike was in the valley of the Merced River where the sun and shadow made getting good photos particularly challenging!
The hike was considered strenuous, perhaps because of the last set of steps to the top of the falls, but we loved every foot of the 3+ miles we hiked.
The view from the top was spectacular — not just of the falls from this angle….
… but of the surrounding mountains…
Sunning itself on the edge of the trail, this squirrel gave us a great stretch that I missed with the camera, followed by a yawn, which I managed to catch.
We knew just how he felt, after that climb!
Road construction meant delays of more than a half an hour each way, so our relatively short drive from Coarsegold took more than 90 minutes each time we went into the park. And this time of the year, the sky darkened at about 4:00 p.m. local time, making our day very short.
We ventured back into the park one more time, to hike Sentinel Dome.
Accessible from Glacier Point Road, the hike is a lazy walk through mountainside foliage to the foot of the dome, which is worth the climb for the views from the top:
Yosemite Falls (the guides said these dry up in the summer, but we saw water flowing down all 5200+ feet!
No matter where we looked, the views were stunning!