This year Pam and I decided to stay at home for Christmas. The decision was mostly made for us by work schedules and the vacation time we had this summer. To make the holiday season feel festive we spent a long weekend near Yosemite National Park. It was great to be able to drive a few hours and feel so far from home. New adventures. We stayed in Groveland.
The weather was cool, with a delightful chill in the evenings (Pam appreciated this chill far less than I did). We ventured into Yosemite twice. The trek up the ridge and down into the valley took us through snow. Thankfully the roads were in very good shape. On the first day I did not get any pictures during the drive in–I was focused on staying on the road. We stopped at a pull-off to savor our first view of Half Dome.
We didn’t realize at the time that this was the last we would see of Half Dome from this perspective, since fog would roll in over the next few days.
When we reached the valley floor we parked near Curry Village. We decided to wander through trails on the valley floor to reach the Mirror Lake Loop. The mosses were vibrant green. The sound of rushing water was all around us.
When we reached Mirror Lake we paused to savor the views. The lake was only partially full, so we were able to walk out to areas that will be underwater soon.
Thankfully there was enough water in Mirror Lake for us to see dramatic reflections of the ridges and peaks that lined the valley.
The enormous rock faces of the ridges were impressive. I especially enjoyed the trees that were ensconced in nooks, crannies, and seemingly impossibly harsh pockets. Trees are amazing.
As we wrapped around the far end of the Mirror Lake Loop I saw a deer close to the trail. It was close to us. I slowly pulled my camera up and took a few pictures, while the doe looked at me calmly. The picture below is not cropped, we were that close (it’s a bit blurry because it was taken in a dark part of the forest).
I glanced to the left, behind a tree, and saw the doe’s friend munching on foraged forest food. It was a nine-point buck, looking magnificent. He also was very calm, surveying us intently but showing no alarm. Once again, the photo below is not cropped.
We carried on down the trail. On the way back to the car I shot a picture of the backside of Half Dome. It is not as impressive as the front side. Ahwiyah Point is visible from this angle, though, so that adds interest.
We stopped by Yosemite Lodge on the drive out of the park to scope out the facilities. It was fun to explore when the park was so quiet. During the day we went very long stretches of time without seeing anyone else. Even the lodge and main trails were quiet.
Yosemite National Park made a good first impression.