Today we drove back into Yosemite Park and drove nonstop through the valley. Our main destination was to visit Glacier Peak and largest grove of Giant Sequoias within the park. The largest Sequoia in the Grove is named Big Grizzly. It's estimated that it around 2,000 years old. As big as this tree is, it is still overshadowed by the tallest living tree on Earth, which is in the Sequoia National Park also located in California. That park is located just east of Bakersfield. The Giant Sequoia tree there is called The General Sherman and estimated to be around 2,700 years old.
In order to reach our destination, we had to drive south within the park. We stopped at the scenic viewing area on the road right before the tunnel that goes through the mountain. The tunnel takes us out of the Yosemite valley. Given the high number of vehicles and spectators at the viewer site, it was obviously that it's a very popular point. The spot is called Tunnel View. We stopped to see and we were very glad we did. One can practically see the entire valley above the tree line. We took many pictures from there, yet it's impossible to capture the spectacular view. The massive granite rocks along both sides of the valley dwarfs everything. The sunlight bouncing off the rocks, on both sides of the valley, adds to the shades and color contrasts.
While we were at Tunnel View, we notice how many park visitors there were. What caught out attention was how many persons were from Asia and European countries. We could distinguish them as they were speaking German and French.
None of us had visited the two sites that we would see today so we didn't know what we would experience. Yosemite is open year-round, but our next stop Glacier Point is closed from November through May due to snow. We are traveling during the summer months, thus snow and ice was not an issue on this trip. We drove for an hour on a winding road. We climbed from the valley floor which is at 2,000 feet elevation up to a 7,000 elevation. In many ways it seemed like a long way to end up on a dead end, but we took the chance to go there and see what was special about visiting Glacier Peak.
When we arrived, we quickly realized that the drive was well worth it. The view from there was breathtaking. What a spectacular view of Yosemite and the surrounding High Sierra mountains! It was a gorgeous panoramic 180 degree scenic view. It was a majestic view of the whole valley and the surrounding mountains. We could see for many miles on this clear day. We took many pictures trying to capture the essence of what we were viewing, but we quickly realized that it was going to be impossible. The best one can do is to stop trying and simply find a nice big rock to sit on and look with wide open eyes across the horizon. It's true that one can have a spiritual and soul seeking moments by looking into the horizon. What I gained from being here was a great sense of appreciation to have health and time to see these beautiful sites. I also appreciate the work of men and women who worked very hard to pass laws to conserve these and other natural wonders. I strongly recommend that everyone who visits Yosemite to take the time to come to Glacier Point. I am certain that you will also be deeply moved and get a sense of enrichment and pleasure by seeing it.
Our next destination for the day was to go on to Mariposa Grove. It is located next to the southern entrance of the park. The Grove is known for having approximately 500 Giant Sequoia Trees. Now when I hear the term "walking amongst giants" I will think of Mariposa Grove. There is an open roof tram that visitors can continually get on-and-off to visit areas in the Grove. We decided to hike to see the largest Sequoia tree here, which is called "Grizzly Giant". The path to it is a gradual climb on a dusty path. One should alway carry drinking water and wear comfortable walking shoes that will get dusty. I have been in other Sequoia groves and the ground is usually damp and muddy, but on this hike the lack of rain was obvious as we kept kicking up dust on the path.
There were many persons going up and returning on the path. Trini and I took note again of how many different languages we heard from fellow visitors. Young and old alike hike the path and make many stops to rest and admire the gigantic trees that are all around. The park tram makes the grove accessible to all, but walking is still the best way to experience and admire the trees. There are several that have fallen along the path and they have been cut to allow persons to check the annual growth rings in the tree trunk.
It's amazing to think how many persons travel from around the world to visit Yosemite and Sequoia National Park each year. Tour buses bring many of them from Los Angeles and San Francisco. It saddens me to encounter persons who have lived in California their whole lives and have not taken time to enjoy these masterpieces created by nature located literally in our own back yards.
When we returned to our car we had to take time to dust ourselves off. That took a while. We thought of exiting the park here on the south side entrance and driving along the rim of the park to get back to our hotel. The ranger informed us that the road, outside the rim of the park, that we would need to take for a shorter drive, was currently closed due to a forest fire. Little did we know that this fire, and others also in the area, would be burning for several weeks. The fires in Yosemite have made international news. It goes to show that each person that visits and explores the park make it part of their heart and soul.
Consequently we had to drive back to the park valley and exit again via the western side. It seemed to be a long drive back since we were now tired and a bit overwhelmed from all the hiking and sightseeing. It was well worth every second we spent here. We felt a bit sad that we were not returning the following day to Yosemite, however we talked about making future plans to return in the near future during the Spring time when the snow is melting and to see all the waterfalls in their magnificence.
We returned to our hotel room in Mariposa and took a long hot shower. We wanted to sleep early but decided instead to go into the spa. Our bodies enjoyed the warm water and the therapeutic jets. I think if we had not been consistently going to the health club back home, we would not have had the stamina to do all the walking and exploring we have done in two days. We also needed to be in good shape since we were just starting our exploratory trip. The plan for tomorrow is to drive back down to the city of Merced and then drive north and head toward Lake Tahoe.
As I was falling asleep, I felt a sense of deep appreciation to have been blessed with the time and the gift of sight to be able to see first-hand this beautiful natural haven that is here for all of us to enjoy.
I am very happy to think that this major natural area is preserved for future generations to see and also feel inspired.
I truly recommend that everyone reading this article on traveling to Yosemite to take time to come up and visit.
I am certain that the spirit of life and nature will fill your heart.