Sunday, April 27, 2014

Traveling thru water without holding your breath

The day began as a cold clear and quiet moment. The loud neighbors do last night had finally fallen victim of their revelries. I was tempted to get out my saucepan and bang it as I matched through the camp singing Yankee Doodle, but I mastered the urge and instead I grabbed my camera and went for a pre-dawn walk.

The air was still and the trees were laden with the bulk of last night's snow. The sky was ethereal and it wasn't possible to tell whether it was blue or gray. If it was gray, it wasn't dropping water anymore. Mist began to rise from the valley floor as the air began to separate and spin from convection and the sun's stirring the atmosphere above the valley.

As I walked it became more and more obvious that today was a brilliant and bright day of clarity. As the sun began to hit the tops of the trees the snow began to melt. Most of the rest of the day the water and snow dripped and dropped. 

We made a quick breakfast and set out through the trees to the Happy Isles trailhead. Perhaps we'd find the energy and fortitude to climb the trail to the top and cross the bridge over Nevada Falls. The sun warmed the trunks of the trees creating most that was rising through the snow and water drops that wee falling through it. It was an incredible sight as the sun backlight the whole interplay of the waters above and the waters below.

As we climbed the trail the background roar of rushing water became more pronounced. The water in the river from the falls above still had plenty of bounce and verve as it careened from boulder to boulder in a cascade of white rushing foam.

The falls were spectacular and the mist from them created beautiful rainbows as it blew past us and down into the valley below. 

The higher we climbed the deeper the snow became. While we only had about an inch or so overnight on the valley floor, the trail near the top was covered with and eight inch blanket of fresh whiteness. The trees were bent over with the weight of the heavy water-laden snow. We crossed beneath them with some trepidation as at any moment an alvanche of snow would break lose from the branches far above and it would trigger further disruption below and soon the whole tree would be enveloped in a white cloud of ice crystals. You would experience an instant freeze If you happened to be underneath it at the time.

The views above below and all around were stunning and overwhelmed your eyes with too many intensely beautiful sights in a row. It was a visual overload that made it hard to quantify and categorize them into a coherent set of images for later recall. My camera kept coming out for another picture as soon as I had put it away from the previous one.

We had an early lunch at the top. Sitting on dry and almost warm rocks in the warm and brilliant sunshine. As we sat there it became clear that we weren't the only ones who thought today was a good day for a hike. People came by at a non stop rate. 

The breeze began to pickup and clouds gathering in the west made it obvious that it was time to head back down the trail. We decided to loop back down the JMT rather than the trail we took to the top. We spent the first half of the trip down slipping and sliding down the slushy trail. Every now and again we'd be surprised by a cold puddle just under the seemingly solid snow. 

By the time we made it back to the valley we were pretty tired so we hung out in the Camp Curry lodge and took a nap. 

We weren't the only people who needed a nap...

After our nap we took the shuttle bus to the Ahwahnee Hotel and sat by the gigantic fire place and warmed our feet. 

Late in the afternoon we rode the shuttle over to Lower Yosemite Falls and did the touristy hike up to the overlook. Well, it's not really and overlook because you are actually looking up at the falls. 

After that is was dinner time. Back on the shuttle we got and back to Camp Curry we went. We ate at the Pavilion Cafeteria. It was a little pricey but less pricey than the Ahwahnee Hotel and better than having to cook our own. 

It's now late after a long and busy day. It's almost dark and almost 7:30 pm. It's a little earlier than my usual 8:00 pm but it was a busy day. Yosemite is a place where the spectacular happens every day!

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