Yosemite represents a confusing contrast between human intervention and spectacular beauty. After a long, stressful drive from San Francisco, the Park was quiet with rain. But the very old and rustic Wawona Hotel was overflowing with people and cars.
Tucker and I found some quiet time in the lobby at 6:30 AM. Kenedy and Kris were still happily sleeping. We tiptoed out of the very old room and tackled one of three puzzles being collectively assembled by guests. At 7:30 AM, other guests started wandering into the lobby and the lady at the front desk warned us to get going. We joined the long train of cars heading toward Yosemite Valley. We fought for a parking place to take a glorious picture of Bridal Veil Falls, Half Dome and El Capitan.
We navigated the crowds of cars and people along the Valley road and took one of the last trailhead parking spots. We waited in line to use the restroom. Finally, we entered the single file line of people walking up the paved Mist Trail to Nevada Falls. At this point we decided to step out of the line and off the paved path and head in the opposite direction of others. We ended up on the trail to Mirror Lake. The lake was OK but just past the lake we found a deserted opening in the valley.
We had lunch and spent an hour bouldering around the huge rock slide.
And then we hugged one giant tree in a grove of giant trees, walked across the very rapid Tenaya Creek and ended up back at the Ahwahnee Hotel, now called the Majestic Yosemite Hotel.
At the Majestic Hotel we passed a wedding below a glowing waterfall.
The ideal end to this 8-mile day would have been a beer on the lawn or maybe just a lazy nap in the sun. But, unfortunately, our trip had come to an end and instead of staying for a beer, we loaded back up and sat in traffic on our way out.
On the bright side, I was able to jump out of the car to capture these clouds lurking at the top of Half Dome. Kids slept happily through the rest of the drive.
We agreed as a family that the mobs, roads, buildings, campgrounds and parking lots are distracting from the beautify of the Yosemite Valley. So we made a pact to come back and set out into the backcountry. The backcountry must be closer to what Muir knew. Now... to win the backcountry permit lottery (or have a plan 168 days ahead of our trip)!