Thursday, August 15, 2013

Yosemite Valley

Yosemite National Park is worth so much more time than the one day we spent there, but it was a glorious one day.  

I made the mistake of doing a couple of fact checks on Google as I was thinking about writing this post.  I bet you know what I mean.  Suddenly it was whoosh, and down the rabbit hole as garden blogger Carol likes to say.  

Instead of getting my plant IDs, I spent half a day becoming acquainted with Enid Michael, Yosemite's first woman ranger naturalist.  I read several bios, then flipped through the 1929 issues of Yosemite Nature Notes, former monthly journal of the Yosemite Natural History Association, and read some of the articles she wrote.

So my Yosemite post went unwritten for another day, and suddenly I have a hundred new post ideas, a sense of obligation to fill you in on Enid Michael who was quite amazing, but no more time in the day.  Argghhh!

Yosemite is kind of overwhelming, actually. It's hard to know where to start to tell you about it.  The beauty is astounding, but so are the crowds.  A couple of things we learned:  It's a good idea to get there early and come prepared with water and lunch. There are places to buy refreshments but I probably don't have to tell you the selection is limited and expensive.

Also, dress in layers.  The temperature variation is as surprising as the topography.  We expected the mountains to be cooler, but it was 95 degrees at Yosemite the day we were there.  Early in the day it had been barely 50!

Here my husband and daughter wait for me to catch up.  I'm always lagging behind taking pictures of you know whats.

Many tourist destinations fill you in about nearly everything with signs and arrow, but we didn't find this to be the case in California.  Prepare before you go and choose your hikes ahead of time.

Hybrid shuttles will drop you off at various points in the Valley, but you have to know what you want to do and where it is! Help at the park is surprisingly hard to find, and backtracking is time consuming.

"What about the huge trees?," you might ask.  There are, in fact, lots of giant sequoias in Yosemite Valley, but most are young and most are small I was told by a park volunteer.  

There were still plenty of beautiful large trees to enjoy, and the Mariposa Grove which is about 40 miles away, has those massive trees you've heard about.  The oldest trees in Yosemite are there, some of which are many hundreds of years old.

This sweet shrub is Calycanthus occidentalis.  (Our eastern species is Calycanthus florida.)  I was all excited to see a plant I recognized, finally!  I was pretty proud of my husband, too, when he said, "Don't we have one of these?"

I noted larger leaves and flowers with white markings on C. occidentalis.  It was a lot like meeting a cousin you didn't know you had at the family reunion.  Or something like that.

The bark of lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) is mesmerizing.  We have so many pines in North Carolina, but I've never seen bark like this.  Incredible.

Out of the forest and back into the prairie and I'm trailing behind my family once again.

Pink and red flowers, like this dianthus always catch my attention.

Spectacular views all around you will keep you inspired.  I bet you vow to return.


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