It has been over three years since I have taken a trek out into Nature. That is way too long!
Therefore, this autumn I was determined to get away, seeking the colors of fall. But when I first made this decision, it was too early in the season—the colors were not yet emerging. I thought about heading up to Bishop at some point, so I could find fall colors as well as take a side trip to Mono Lake. But I did not want to drive 7-8 hours just to get there before I could start wandering around. Then I got busy, and all of a sudden it was the end of October and finding fall colors was still on my list. But this past week opened up as light in terms of work load, and I could actually take a couple days off.
“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” John Muir
That’s when it dawned on me: I could head to a place about 220 miles northeast of me. After all, I had been there before in the fall and saw some the yellows and oranges of the season. But then hesitations set in. I was not thrilled to see that the park’s website says the area “is not known for spectacular fall colors.” Other reasons not to take the trip kept coming to mind as well: I could only get away for a couple of days. It was raining the night before I was going to leave with more rain predicted the next day. In fact, several of the roads into and through the park were closed because of snow, and the need for chains—that I do not have—were a distinct possibility. Even if the weather were great, some of the roads were under construction. And the website said the park’s various waterfalls boasted no more than a trickle of water.
I thought about not going.
But every time I thought about canceling, I just had to remember that I was heading to Yosemite National Park. YOSEMITE!
Cold, rain, limited access—none of that mattered. It would be great to get back to Yosemite even for a day. And the trip was stupendous: I did not get rained on. The road construction delays were minimal. The dense clouds of the first day were replaced by sunshine the next morning. It was cold, but who cares?
I wandered among the trees and found fall colors. Although there were no vibrant reds or oranges, the yellows, golds, browns, and corals were in abundance. As I wandered through the trees, I heard the chittering of the birds and watched the bushy-tailed squirrels racing over the branches. I watched a peregrine falcon soar over head and a mule deer wander along the road at dusk. At one point, a raven stopped to chat, patiently waiting on a fence post. At other times, I sat beside the Merced River, enjoying the silence and the solitude.
The road to the Mariposa Grove opened the second day, but the road to Glacier Point stayed closed due to snow. The impressive granite walls of Yosemite Valley were accessible both days: Half Dome, El Capitan, Sentinel Rock, and the Cloud’s Rest View. The groves of pine, fir and sequoias were punctuated with the subdued colors of fall at every turn. I could ask for nothing better. As John Muir says, “This grand show is eternal.”
Here are some of the photos I captured as I wandered through Yosemite National Park in October 2013:
“The mountains are calling and I must go.” John Muir
“I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do.” John Muir
“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” John Muir
“The farther one gets into the wilderness, the greater is the attraction of its lonely freedom.” Theodore Roosevelt
President Lincoln preserved the Mariposa Grove in 1864 at the same time Yosemite Valley was protected. Later, Theodore Roosevelt apparently agreed with the action: “A grove of giant redwood or sequoias should be kept just as we keep a beautiful cathedral.”
“No matter how sophisticated you may be, a large granite mountain cannot be denied—it speaks in silence to the very core of your being.” Ansel Adams
“It is by far the grandest of all the special temples of Nature I was ever permitted to enter.” John Muir
(What a difference a day makes!)
“Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space.” Ansel Adams
“There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charms.” Theodore Roosevelt
When Muir arrived in San Francisco in 1868, a carpenter he met in the city asked him where he wanted to go. Muir’s response: “Anywhere that is wild.” Muir started walking east, out of the city. Makes sense to me!
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NOTE: I shared a fuller look at Yosemite in an earlier post that was fresh pressed in May 2011. If you have not been to Yosemite yet, place the visit on your bucket list! If you have been, what memories can you share? Or is there another national park you can recommend we all visit? Another one of my favorites is the Grand Canyon. Maybe I will get back there in the summer!