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An American Icon

Majestic Yosemite National Park

Road Scholar 

Adventures in Lifelong Learning

Program #19237

August 24 - 29, 2014

I have had a  trip to Yosemite National Park in California on my

bucket list for several years.  When reading a recent Road Scholar

brochure, I discovered this dream trip.   Carol had not been to

Yosemite either, so we studied the brochure and decided to

travel west to visit Yosemite.  It also turned out to be a good chance

to visit our Grandchildren and families in

California, Washington and  Minnesota! 


On August 21st, we flew to San Francisco for our first stop

with the Logan and Pierson families who live in Mountain View. 

Unfortunately, on Friday morning, Carol's daughter Jen had an

emergency health problem and had to be taken to her local hospital

by her mother.  It turned out that she had a pacemaker implanted

in her chest on Saturday.  She began her recovery on Sunday

when she came home from the hospital.  She was  in good spirits

and needed to rest until she was healed.  Carol bowed out of

the balance of our trip to be with Jen and family.

On Sunday afternoon, Carol drove John to the Hilton SFO

Bayfront Hotel.  There was a briefing meeting at 5:30 PM where

we learned about our Yosemite adventure.  We were a group of

\15 Road Scholars going to Yosemite by bus the

next morning at 7:45 AM. 

We traveled east into California' s very large central valley

where agriculture is a huge business.  The scenery along our

route varied as we drove along.

We had a quick rest stop at this farm stand.  They had a

large selection of Souvenirs, sweets and

agricultural products for sale.

Mile after mile of almond trees were seen on the way to Yosemite.

New orchards could be seen as we drove along.  Irrigation systems were

running along the rows of young trees.  We were told that

orchards like this one require great amounts of water.


In addition to Almond orchards, there were many pistachio orchards.  There

is a great deal of controversy between orchard owners and farmers who

need water for other types of farming.  There were many signs posted that

read "No Water - No Jobs" along the road as we drove along.

As we neared Yosemite we began to climb into the foot hills of

the high Sierra region where Yosemite is located.

The landscape was beginning to change as  we neared the park.

As we traveled along we went through a small village that was

evacuated during the recent forest fire that raged near the park.

The grey area in the center of this photo is one of the sections

where the fire traveled through.

This was an area where the forest fire burned up to the edge  of the road.

We arrived in the park with a stop for lunch at the famous Wawona Hotel. 

The Wawona Hotel is one of the oldest mountain resort hotels in

California and a classic Victorian era resort design. The Victorian style

hotel was built in 1876 to serve tourists visiting the nearby Mariposa

Grove of Giant Sequoias. As tourism increased through 1916, the hotel

built additional rooms and facilities. In addition, it cut more forest trails,

as well as paths along the south fork of the Merced River.  Most of the hotel's

104 guestrooms open onto one of the Wawona Hotel's deep verandas,

which wrap around the first and second floors; they have open

views of the gardened and natural landscapes. The hotel includes six historically

distinctive buildings, built between 1876 and 1916. The rooms are furnished

with antiques, period pieces, and vintage elements. The hotel has no

telephones or televisions in the guestrooms.

 Before lunch we had an opportunity to explore the hotel and its

grounds.  One interesting stop was the Hill's Studio near the

hotel 's main building.  Thomas Hill (18291908), a renowned

landscape painter of the Hudson River School, stayed at the Wawona

Hotel toward the end of his life. He used the hotel pavilion as

his painting studio and completed numerous works of the region.

This is listed separately on the National Register of Historic Places.

We headed for our next stop Mariposa Grove.

Mariposa Grove is a sequoia grove located near Wawona in the

southern most part of Yosemite National Park. It is the largest grove

of Giant Sequoias in the park with several hundred

mature examples of the trees.

Two of its trees are among the 30 largest Giant Sequoias

in the world, some as old as 2400 years. 

The sequoia trees are very tall and have straight trunks that seen to reach for the sky.

Sequoia trees have large trunks at ground level.  Their bark is very soft  and thick.

I am standing in front of a Sequoia tree root that was blown over many years ago.

It is hard to imagine the size of the trunks.  Originally, it was very

hard to harvest these big trees because none of the lumbering

tools available were big enough.

These two sequoia trees grew together and had survived a

forest fire.  Most of the forest fires that occur in the park

are caused by lightening strikes.

Our next stop of was at Tunnel View scenic overlook affording

expansive views of Yosemite Valley.  Yosemite National Park

spans the eastern portions of Tuolumne, Mariposa and Madera

counties.  The park, which is managed by the National Park Service,

covers an area of 747,956 acres and reaches across the western slopes

of the Sierra Nevada mountain chain. Over 3.7 million people visit Yosemite

each year, most spend their time in the seven square miles of Yosemite Valley.

Designated a World Heritage Site in 1984, Yosemite is internationally

recognized for its spectacular granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams,

Giant Sequoia groves, and biological diversity. Almost 95% of the park is

designated wilderness. Yosemite was central to the development of the

National Park idea. First, Galen Clark and others lobbied to

protect Yosemite Valley from development, ultimately leading to President

Abraham Lincoln's signing the Yosemite Grant in 1864. Later, John Muir

led a successful movement to establish a larger national park

encompassing not just the valley, but surrounding mountains

and forests as well - paving the way for the

United States National Park system.

We entered the National Park by way of Tunnel View stop.  An almost

dry Bridalveil Falls as seen from Tunnel View.  The summer months

at the park are very dry with little rain fall.  The result is that most of the

water falls are dry or just trickle.

El Capitan is in the background.

The mighty El Capitan from Tunnel View.

A closer look at El Capitan as we drive to the Yosemite Lodge at the Falls,

where we will stay during our visit to the park.

More park scenery as we drive to the lodge.

We have arrived at the lodge. Our accommodations are very nice,

and we settle in before dinner at the Lodge's Food Court.  This bus

is one of several that serve Yosemite Valley area.  It was a

great way to travel to the various scenic spots in the valley.

Sunshine on El Capitan's granite walls greeted us as we went to

breakfast in the Mountain Room.  The scenery in the park is breathtaking

no matter the time of day.

Driving by El Capitan in the morning sunlight

Our stop of the morning tour was at Olmsted Point, located in a

viewing area off of the Tioga Road which offers a view into

Tenaya Canyon. This view looks southwest into the valley,

giving, in particular, a view of the northern side of Half Dome

and a view of Tenaya Lake to the east.  The site is named after famed landscape

architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.  Above is the famous Half Dome.

A large granite boulder rested near our outlook.

The view from Olmsted Point toward Tenaya Lake.

Mountain scenery over looking Tenaya Lake.

Tenaya Lake is named after Chief Tenaya, who met the Mariposa

Brigade near the shores of the lake. Tenaya protested that

the lake already had a name: Pie-we-ack, or "Lake of the Shining Rocks". 

Tenaya Lake was created by the Tenaya Glacier, which flowed out of

the vast Tuolumne Ice Sheet and down to Yosemite Valley.

This same glacier created Half Dome.

Beautiful Scenery as seen from the lake.

Granite slopes along Tenaya's shoreline.

Two climbers scaling a dome slope near Tenaya Lake.

Tuolumne Meadows with Tuolumne Creek in the background.  Tuolumne

Meadows is a gentle, dome-studded sub-alpine meadow section of the

Tuolumne River, in the eastern section of Yosemite National Park. Its

approximate elevation is 8,619 feet (2,627 m).

Lembert Dome is a granite dome rock formation in Yosemite National Park.

The dome soars 800 feet (240 m) above Tuolumne Meadows and the

Tuolumne River and can be hiked starting at the Tioga

Road in the heart of Tuolumne Meadows.

Granite rock formations followed us as we drove back to Yosemite Lodge.

The remains of a forest fire seen as we drive along Tioga Road.  Tree

trunks show the blackening caused by the fire's flames.

The Yosemite Valley Chapel was built in the Yosemite Valley of

California in 1879. It is the oldest standing structure in Yosemite

National Park The wooden chapel was designed by San Francisco

architect Charles Geddes in the Carpenter Gothic style. It was built

by Geddes' son-in-law, Samuel Thompson of San Francisco, for the California

State Sunday School Association, at a cost of three or four thousand dollars.

As we rode  along through the National Park we saw many trees with lichen on their bark

covering trees like this one. Their yellow, green colors was easy to spot.

 More granite peaks along our ride back to the Yosemite lodge.

After our tour to Tuolumne Meadows we had several hours to

explore the area around Yosemite Village.  At the Valley Visitors Center,

I enjoyed the Center's various exhibits about the Park. 

This photo of me enjoying a photo opt with John Muir.

The Visitor's Center had a neat model of Yosemite Park where visitors

could trace the many natural wonders of the Park.  I also visited the

Ansel Adams Gallery where I view many of his Yosemite photos.

On Tuesday evening, we had a program about John Muir, noted

Naturalist presented by Frank Helling.  He told of John Muir's struggle to

create a National Park at Yosemite.  It was a most enlightening and

informational program about this famous advocate for our national parks. 

John Muir  was a Scottish-American naturalist, author, and

early advocate of preservation of wilderness in the United States.

His letters, essays, and books telling of his adventures in nature,

especially in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, have

been read by millions. His activism helped to preserve the

Yosemite Valley, Sequoia National Park and other wilderness

areas. The Sierra Club, which he founded, is a prominent American

conservation organization.  He petitioned the U.S. Congress for

the National Park bill that was passed in 1890, establishing Yosemite

and Sequoia National Parks. He is today referred to as the "Father of the National Parks".

The above photo is of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt (left)

and nature preservationist John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club,

on Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park. In the background:

Upper and lower Yosemite Falls.  In 1903, Roosevelt visited Muir

in Yosemite. Guided into the Yosemite wilderness by naturalist

John Muir, the president went on a three-day wilderness trip that

started at the Mariposa Grove, and included Sentinel Dome,

Glacier Point, and Yosemite Valley among other points of interest in

Yosemite National Park. Muir seized the opportunity "to do some

forest good in talking freely around the campfire," and the President,

referring to John Muir, is quoted as saying "Of course of all the

people in the world, he was the one with whom it was

best worth while thus to see the Yosemite."

After breakfast on Wednesday morning, we ventured to El

Capitan Meadow to check out the climbers who were scaling this famous peak. 

Our tour Tour Naturalist, David Lukas had his telescope set up so

we could view the climbers attending to scale El Capitan this morning.  

Unfortunately there were only two climbers attempting this climb. 

They were just starting out so the were low on the side of El Capitan. 

David was a very professional naturalist and had a world of knowledge

about the Yosemite Park and its many natural feature. 

He was a great asset to our Road Scholar Program.

The famous Bridalveil Falls was our next stop of the morning. 

Typically the falls in the park are dry most of the summer. 

Just a wisp of water could be seen coming over the falls.

As we ventured along the falls trail we got a better view

of the water coming over the falls.

At the Bridalveil Falls observation point we got a view of the waterfall.

This photo shows the spot where the Yosemite waterfall would be

cascading down if water was available. It is located in the right of

center of the photo and shows the dark area where the cliff is

water stained in a fan shape.

After our morning of hiking and view the natural wonders of Yosemite

we had a delightful lunch at the historical Ahwahnee Hotel.

Open since 1927, The Ahwahnee is one of America's most distinctive

Registered National Landmarks. The magnificent Ahwahnee is

unparalleled in magnificence and charm. The hotel was designated a

National Historic Landmark on June 2, 1987. The Ahwahnee

Accommodations include 123 guest rooms (99 in the main building

and 24 cottage rooms) and 4 parlor rooms. These rooms are the

top-of-the-line in-park Accommodations. Each room is accented with original

Native American designs and is ideal for those guests who desire

more service.  The meal was very good and the traditional

dessert of boysenberry pie was outstanding.

The Shawnee Dining Room

The Ahwahnee has been serving Boysenberry Pie in Yosemite National

Park for over 50 years! Boysenberries a cross between raspberry

and blackberry make a delicious summer dessert pie especially

when served with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Our lunch at the Ahwahnee Hotel ended with  our group learning

more about the hotel and then were guided by David Lukas on a short nature hike.


Thursday our last full day in the park was  started with a 4 hour bus ride to Glacier Point.

Along the way we passed the three brothers peaks.

We had a good morning view of El Capitan.

The Sentinel Rock was lit  up by the morning sun.

Glacier Point Gift Shop.  It was 3,200 feet above the valley floor.

Half Dome view in morning light.

A Yosemite Valley View

The famous Glacier Point rocks where tourist would pose for

photos, now closed as a safety hazard.  Teddy Roosevelt

and John Muir posed on this rock perch for their famous photo.

The famous Ahwahnee Hotel from Glacier Point.

Half Dome is a very busy climbing venue, you can see climbers on the top from Glacier Point.

Mount Lyell in the distance from Glacier point.

Nevada Falls with just a trickle of water.

Vernal Falls from Glacier Point.

Yosemite from Tunnel View.

Another glimpse up Yosemite Valley.

One last view of Half Dome from Tunnel View.

It Is Friday morning and our all too short a stay at Yosemite

National Park is over.  We boarded our bus with our capable

drive Ken at the wheel, heading for Merced and then San Francisco. 

Above is a photo of one of the parks dry waterfalls

seen as  we drive out of the park.

Scenery along the Merced River.

Merced River reflections.

The scenery is not as exciting as Yosemite!

Back where this adventure started. 

Please note that I used Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia as source

for some of the background information used in this web page.


What a wonderful experience!  One more item off the bucket list.