A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Friday, June 22, 2012

It's Doesn't Get Much Better

I mounted my bicycle and slowly peddled up the road (now closed to all traffic except bicycles and tourist trams - a good thing) to view Mirror Lake.  Even back in the sixties Mirror Lake was slowly filling in with sediment from the high country and was someday destined to be no more than a beautiful meadow.  I was curious as to how much of the lake there was left.  Along the way you are treated to various views of Half Dome.

I have been up there 4 times.  Twice in my youth and twice to take my own kids up there.  Nowadays, you have to get a permit and only 300 are...yes I said 300...are allowed per day. Back in my day, 30 was a lot to go up in one day as it is a 14-16 mile round-trip hike with an elevation gain of  4,800' taking 10 to 12 hours up and back.  I've gone online and viewed the madness of today from recent photos.  It is a solid line of people backed up to climb the final stretch up the backside.  With so many on the cables, impatience leads to pushing and shoving and it is no wonder deaths occur each year.  Unbelievable. 

I peddled up the grade towards Mirror Lake and was stopped by this sign.  Since I didn't have a lock for the bicycle with me, this is as far as I could go and I never was able to see Mirror Lake.

I just stood there and watched this scene before me, thinking What disappointment awaits me next?
I looked at the people around me, older folk for the most part and wondered if any one of them might just happen to be of the group of kids I hung out with in Yosemite so long ago.
Hello, Sharon?

I coasted back down the hill and continued on to Happy Isles.  Happy Isles was a favorite spot for John Muir as he found it a very peaceful setting which always lifted his spirit.  Hopefully it would do so for me too.  Today Happy Isles marks the beginning point of the John Muir Trail which ends 211 miles later at the top of Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the Continental U.S.  But when I arrived at Happy Isles I found the bridge gone, washed away by the Great Flood of 1997.  The white sign off to the left at the top of the rock wall designates the high water mark of the flood.  The man in the far back with the straw hat is standing at step number one of the John Muir Trail.

I walked on the paths connecting the little Happy islands...

sat down to eat my apple and thought...

If John Muir were sitting here right next to me,
would he be as dispirited as I am after all I have seen?

I got back onto my bicycle, rode back to the Little House on the Highway, climbed in and headed for home.  On the way I stopped one last time, and went for a short walk with my camera.

Had John Muir just answered my question?  
I began to feel better, and continued to do so all the way home.
Someday I will return to Yosemite with fresh eyes and renewed heart.


  1. spectacular scenery your first image. Your finale photographs on the way back home are beautiful too; love the old tree trunk and lupin/e. It's hard to re-visit something from your past; things are never the same. We kind of wish for old times to be new times but it just won't happen. Keep the memory box alive!

  2. As hard as it is to revisit something and hope to recapture the feelings of our younger years, the words on that sign (yes, I really did read them all!), are so true - part of the changes allow us to experience nature anew at each step. I hope you were renewed and can learn to love the changes. It really does get harder as we get older...
    The photos were beautiful - I love that one looking up into the trees.

  3. i know everything's changed but i still saw lots of beauty there. :)

  4. I could almost feel your sadness John but like Theresa (TexWisGirl) said it's still pretty to those who have never seen it.


  5. Hi John...Catching up, and just went through Yosemite with you, and it is a marvelous place, even if it is not as you once seen it!!
    Your photos are stunning..and seeing all that water is a big tease right now...it is very hot and humid here..been up to 100 degrees at my backdoor, but probably wouldn't be for you though : }}}

  6. Looks like you had a wonderful and productive day. Thanks for sharing.

  7. A familiar story, John. Even old Ansel would have had trouble framing his landscapes and keeping them free of people!

  8. Maybe a trip in the Fall, when the crowds are gone? I've always liked going in winter. True you can't hike or climb like in summer, but the quiet majesty is pretty awesome.

  9. Some great photos there John. It's a shrinking world right enough.
    I've just looked at the National Park Service's website and 'Day hikes in Yosemite'. there are some great walks around.
    There is still wilderness out there though, it's just a bit harder to find.

  10. My ex-fil always used an old bike, so that if he had to leave it, he could just throw it into the ditch, so everyone would ignore it. Worked for years!

  11. Sometimes you have to take a different path to find the beauty God wants you to see. Sorry you didn't get to finish your trek. Hope you have a good weekend just the same.


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