Day #49 - Yo! So Might-y

Today was the day we crossed of one of the dream highlights for both of us - Yosemite National Park. James has been here a few times before but this was my first visit. 
It was an easy drive to the park but we did have to climb a very long road that snaked its way up the side of the mountain valllies and while it gave us spectacular views, it did focus the mind of the driver! I'll never moan about the hairpin bends in Switzerland again!
We arrived at the gates to the park and paid our entrance fee but we hadn't realised that we still had a lot more driving to do! The part of the park everyone wants to see is Yosemite Valley and this was another 30 miles in from the park border. Yosemite National Park was first protected in 1864 and established on October 1, 1890. It has a surface area of 1,169 square miles
We were again blessed with a beautiful day and so we didn't mind the drive since we were constantly presented with stunning views and vistas. The park authorities know that people want to enjoy these views and so have constructed places to pull over and park your vehicle so you can enjoy them.
The whole area is of course stunning. Every time we turned, we saw something spectacular. This is a truly amazing place to explore and enjoy.
The park is, of course, managed. As much as we'd all like to leave nature to her own devices, the fact we want to enjoy and protect these environments means we have to put in place several measures to ensure their survival and can be enjoyed safely and responsibility. Now, having said that, I felt that the whole park took this to a new level from a visitor's perspective! The main part of the park is the Yosemite Valley floor and a big circular road navigates the valley making it very easy to get to all the key sights. Not only that, at key locations there are car parks or pull-ins to allow you to get out and view the magnificent rock formations, waterfalls or trees. There are also clearly demarcated footpaths/trails to follow making hiking a lot easier than it could have been. None of this distracted from the grandeur of the park or the wonder it inspired, but one did feel a little like were in some kind of theme park. I think the national parks in the UK take a less obvious route to their management which is why this stood out for me.
We were lucky to see the park at this time of year with these beautiful colours. 
Nevertheless, Yosemite is a place of beauty, wonder and a glorious example of what millions of years of geomorphology can produce. I definitely would like to return and explore more.
I was excited to see many of Yosemite's main rock formations including El Capitan - a massive granite monolith, rises over 3,000 feet above the valley floor and Half Dome - a dome-shaped rock with a sheer face that is nearly 2,000 feet tall. Yosemite Valley is also home to several waterfalls, including Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfall in North America, and Bridalveil Fall, a delicate waterfall that cascades down a cliff face. Take a look:
El Capitan (behind our heads) - a huge rock formation, popular with climbers 
Half Dome Rock (centre) - its summit is 4800ft above the valley floor
Yosemite Falls - not that spectacular in autumn, but in spring, the meltwaters change that!
Bridalveil Fall - 188 meters in length.
At the end of the day, we also went up to Glacier Point which offers another spectacular view over the valley. 
And there was even a little snow on the ground to play in!
Like many landscapes, Yosemite's beauty and majesty is hard to capture in photographs. Everywhere you turn, a view worthy of sharing presents itself. Yosemite does have a history with photography in the form of Ansel Adams,  an American landscape photographer and environmentalist known for his black-and-white images of the American West, especially Yosemite. In the park there is a gallery devoted to his work and it is housed in a wooden building that was a photo studio and where Ansel married his wife, Virginia. It is worth taking a look at his work. A good place to start is this presentation:
And I'll end with one of mine.