The heart of Sierra Nevada

Yosemite National Park Sept 3-5, 2010
A little bit of bad planning saw us arriving at Yosemite during the Labour Day long weekend – it seems that most of California was on the move for this last hurrah of summer. As a result almost everything was fully booked. We ended up camping at a fabulous spot by Virginia Lake on the north-eastern rim of Yosemite within the Toynbe National Forest. We were camped at elevation of 3,200m and surrounded by soaring granite peaks and dense forest of tall pines. It was probably the quietest location we have camped at – no running water or crashing waves nearby. At night it was so silent that I imagined I could hear the slow grinding of rock as it gradually rose up. We spent a day taking in the wondrous natural sights of Yosemite – huge smooth granite peaks, remnant glacial valleys and high alpine lakes and meadows. On the way into Yosemite on the beautiful Route 395 we passed Mono Lake, a saline lake located in the huge valley to the east of Yosemite. It is home to thousands of waders and shorebirds. A strange sight 500km from the ocean shores. The next day we hiked from our camp along a chain of lakes formed in former glacial cirques to Summit Lake within the Hoover Wilderness area which borders Yosemite. The effect of altitude was certainly noticeable as we wound our way to the summit which was at an elevation of around 4,000m. And just about everywhere you look you are surrounded by amazing landforms shaped by movement of rock and water over millions of years. It is so vast and so overwhelmingly beautiful, that it is difficult to take in. Most of time we walked in awe of the majestic powers that have shaped this land. What foresight the parks founders had, to fight for the protection of this unique environment.