Tour without a goal – 21 August 2014

Last view of Yosemite Valley

It seems strange that visitors to Yosemite should be so little influenced by the novel grandeur, as if their eyes were bandaged and their ears stopped. Most of those who I saw yesterday were looking down as if wholly unconscious of anything going on about them, while the sublime rocks were trembling with the tones of the mighty chanting congregation of waters gathered from all the mountains round about, making music that might draw the angels out of heaven.
-John Muir

beyond the valley of the walls
I spent most of today’s ride, over thirty miles of it, riding out of Yosemite valley. That should give some feeling for how large it is, I think I did about a hundred miles all told. And there are still parts of the park – the Hetch Hetchy for instance – that I did not ride near. Plus of course the cast wilderness away from the roads – the true heart of the park.

Half-Dome reflected in the Merced River

I lingered long in the Village this morning as I did have some legitimate business to take care to prep for the next stage of the tour. I stayed long enough that I had an early lunch at a fundraiser BBQ for the Village Daycare. As I left I took many more pictures of the hanging granite walls that tower above all parts of the valley. I had ride in the opposite direction for a bit to cross over to the other side of the Merced to get to hwy 41.

Hanging Valley reflected in the Merced

Once on 41 it began to climb immediately. This wasn’t a hard climb IMO, or perhaps I’ve become a bit inured to it, but it steadily rose the entire way. There were several viewpoints looking back down into the valley, similar to when I first came down – massive cliff walls and at the far end Half Dome. The best of these final overlooks was right before a long tunnel that gently sloped upwards. In this tunnels the cars coming through howled like freight trains from the close echoes. There were side passages that looked like the went out to a cliff face. I’ve never seen anything like that in a tunnel before. Out of the tunnel the road climb for a good distance but then I crested the valley wall and descended into the Wawona Valley.

Small waterfall at Summerdale Campground

This is still part of Yosemite but the character is totally different. The valley has gently sloping hills, lined with big trees and none of the stark granite cliffs. At the bottom is a an old ranch, a lodge and golf course. You have to climb this valley wall to get out and once you do there is the final attraction: Mariposa Grove, a stand of Redwoods on the edge of the park. I didn’t visit the grove as it was too far off track, but this marks the transition into the parts of the mountains with Sequoias. Not far outside of the park was Summerdale Campground where I stayed this night. It had a nice little stream with a tiny waterfall cutting into living rock. It had big pools above it where I swam and washed up on this hot summer day.

leaving the valley,
not without a backward glance,
butterflies flit around me

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