Trace Back – Yosemite National Park

It all started Monday evening, when I started thinking about what to do for the coming weekend. I started looking up cheap places to stay in Yosemite. I vetted the idea with Agam and he was obviously in. Luck favored us and we found a room at the Yosemite Lodge at the Falls. This place is worth every dime that you spend, since it maximizes your stay in the park, and makes you feel at home all the time.

Visiting Yosemite was a dream that I had harbored for a while. But our lack of interest in driving to destinations, always kept us away from it. What you will read below is my experience in the park. If you think parks are boring and are for romantics, you’d rather not read any further. It is a few that connect with nature and I am blessed to be married to one.

We left Mountain View at 8:00am and soon we realized that Agam had fed the wrong destination point in the GPS! We were heading to Yosemite Lodge and the GPS was taking us to Yosemite View Lodge. We had planned to take 120E and ended up taking the 140E Route instead because of this glitch. In the end, I think it was blessing in disguise, since the 140 route is simple and scenic. I strongly recommend that route to whoever is planning to hit the valley anytime soon. We drove through the valley, along the Merced River, and arrived at the El Portal at around 11:00am. From El Portal to the Lodge was another 20 miles, and we immediately got absorbed in the beauty around us. The interesting rock formations capture your attention as you drive through the park. I remember myself awed at some of the rock formations that in hindsight were just an introduction to the real wonders of Yosemite.

We drove through the park, and the first sight was that of the Bridal Veil Falls. The falls are truly representative of a bride’s veil and are notoriously messy. I have never been to Niagara, and hence I was in for a surprise when I stood at the bottom of this messy bride’s veil. We were drenched vet and it was time to keep the cameras away and enjoy the mist of the Falls.

We took some ad-hoc stops to enjoy the snow in the meadows and enjoy the beauty of Yosemite and finally arrived to our GPS final destination at 11:30am. I was Ecstatic to see my luck shine so bright. Not only did we manage a reservation at the Lodge, we also got a corner room and a view of both the Yosemite Falls and the Half Dome. It was simply perfect.

That day, we decided to check in and head over for a guided tour. I highly recommend this tour. It introduces you to the history of the national park and helps you become familiar with it, enough to roam around in the park without getting lost. The tour primarily covers the valley floor. Let us go one by one. The first destination was the El Capitan. It is huge and very commanding. I will probably faint if asked to even stand under it. Some of the stories that the Ranger shared were hair rising. To cite a few, a blind man, a nine year old and a woman who just had a heart transplant, have all hiked up this mammoth. Phew!

The second destination was something called the Tunnel View. It is a view that captures the El Capitan, Half Dome and Yosemite Falls – all from one place. And the icing on the cake is that if you catch the tunnel view right when the sun is on the top, you will see a rainbow in the falls. We were lucky to see it and it was SPLENDID! We also covered a different view of the Bridal Veil Falls and moved on to cover the remaining valley floor. After we came back from the guided tour, we headed to the Lower Yosemite Falls. It was a short walk from the lodge and we enjoyed the sight of the falls along our way. At the end of the trail we ended up right in time for sunset at the meadows in front of the Half Dome. The Ranger had mentioned that the valley is beautiful around that time of the day, and especially Half Dome.

No words can do justice to how beautiful the dome looked when the final rays of the sun hit against it. The clouds scattered the light around and it almost felt like a wild fire had set ablaze in the forest. It was a joy to be in the meadows that time of the day. After a long and fun walk back, we enjoyed our cozy meal at the Mountain Room restaurant. I could not help but sit there and thank my stars, for a lovely husband and the lovely view of the Yosemite falls behind him. That was a wrap.

The morning was bright and crisp. As the sun’s rays woke me up, I started planning the day ahead of me. Agam suggested we do a moderate and a easy hike and I agreed. So then we checked out of the lodge, packed our luggage back in the car, and took the Visitor Shuttle to the Mirror Lake bus stop. The trail to Mirror Lake was short and sweet and the views were breathtaking. From Mirror Lake we started our trek backwards towards the Vernal Falls. This one was a little bit of a climb, 400ft to be precise. We made it to the foot bridge in an hour and enjoyed the views from the bridge. After the hike, we had built an appetite for something sinfully good and we stopped on our way back at the Village Center for a quick lunch at the Grill. After lunch we took the shuttle back to the visitor center, and started getting ready for our drive back to Mountain View. I admit, my eyes filled up to brim, while I said goodbye to the cliffs of Yosemite. Only thing I could say was – I will be back – very soon!

At times we all just bow down to Mother Nature and surrender ourselves in its laps. I feel relaxed!

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