We got to Yosemite around seven in the evening and went straight to the Mariposa grove. It's one of my favorite areas on the park; it is the home of the Sequoia 'Big Trees' like the Grizzly Giant and the Columbia Tree. Even when it's crowded with tourists – and so late in the day, it was not – the majesty of the towering trees fills me with awe. Many of the trees are suspected to be 2,000 years and older. Isn't that just crazy to think about? When Christ was nailed to his tree, these trees were growing too. Amazing. Ignoring the history, the trees are also just very, very pretty greens and reds – they're so distinctive against the backdrop of sugar pines, lodgepoles, and firs.
We started in the Lower Grove and worked our way around the popular trees – the Grizzly Giant and the California Tunnel tree. I wanted to see the Clothespin Tree; the trunk has nearly been split because of fire and there's a space in it large enough to drive a car through. Speaking of driving a car through, the Wawona Tunnel Tree would have been neat to see it its prime; a hole was carved through it large enough to drive an horse-and-carriage through. Sadly, that tree fell down way back in 1969. I wanted to go see its corpse – Sequoias are very slow to decompose and the trees are so huge that they can lie on the forest floor for hundreds of years – but we never made it up that far, because the sun was setting. We did hike up to the Upper Grove to see the Telescope Tree, which I had never seen before because I was too small to walk that far when Dad brought us to Mariposa before.
We didn't hike a great distance – maybe three miles in all – but it was late and the last half mile was in the dark. Dad was quite confident about it – "Just follow the path, it glows in the moonlight because of the granite dust!!" – but I couldn't help feeling a little nervous, because I didn't have a flashlight and the consequence of 3.5 million people stomping around Yosemite each year means that the ground has been worn away virtually anywhere rangers haven't blocked off with fences, and 'the path' usually seemed to be forking off at every turn. Dad knows the area quite well and boldly lead the way, and we made it safely back to the car without being eaten by mountain lions.
Mountain lions! There were signs everywhere warning of their presence. I'm not sure if there was an attack to make everyone more cautious or if there was merely a bumper crop of cubs this year, but EVERYWHERE I saw warnings to watch for lions and to report sightings to a ranger. But where was one of the big kitties when I wanted to get a peek? Nowhere to be found!
So instead of mountain-lion chasing Dad checked us into the Wawona Hotel, which is very Historical Landmark, which in non-historian English means old and rather-run-down. Don't get me wrong! The hotel is clean enough, and the staff really busts hump to keep it that way. But any hotel that freely warns you about the potential to find mice in the first few pages of the visitor's book – well, let's just say it's not for the average Mr. and Mrs. American. We were fortunate enough to be staying in the Washburn Cottage, which has private baths. No marching down the hall to the showers for us! We're a hoity-toity lot, we are.
Come with me, and I'll introduce you to the Grizzly Giant.
The Famous Grizzly Giant.
Superman Pose! In front of the California Tunnel Tree.
I totally don't remember what tree this was, if it had an official name - but it was HUGE man!
Another model Sequoia.
Man, the photo totally didn't turn out, but this is from the inside of the Telescope Tree. If you stand at the bottom in the middle of the tree and look up, you can see right through to the sky.