The shark fins are Quarter Domes; Cloud's Rest is the snow-covered peak beyond.
In which we bravely investigate the damage caused by the Mirror Lake Rockfall, and later play tourist and visit the base of Yosemite Falls.
Sunday morning I roll out of bed after yet another poor attempt at sleeping, and my dad is feeling sick and can't keep any food down. But suffering illness has never deterred the man from a hardy hike, so within an hour we are on the Valley shuttle to the Mirror Lake trailhead so we can investigate the rock slide we heard so much about the night before.
It was friggin' cold at Mirror Lake:
The water didn't look all that deep. Most of the snow in the high country still hasn't melted yet; by mid-April there should be a lot more water in the rivers and lakes of Yosemite Valley.
As we hiked along the edge of Mirror Lake we came to a point where everything was covered with a ash-like dust. It almost looked like it had snowed! This was the area directly across the valley from the rock fall. The big boulders had not rolled very far from the tallus of the main rock pile, but dust had drifted to the 'safe distance' where we were standing.
As I take a photo of my dad, look at the ground we're standing on. It looks pure white! I mean, OK, the granite always looks kinda white, but this was weird.
Animal tracks in the dust:
As we were standing around another small cloud of dust came drifting over, making it hard to breathe for a minute or two. Seanie was sitting by an incense cedar, the reddish-bark of which made the granite dust really visible:
(He didn't like it.)
All the trees and rocks and ground plants were covered in the dust, but as we continued our hike we eventually reached the cut-off point, and suddenly the world was green once more.
Daddy decided that he wanted to head upwards so we could get above the treeline and really see the rockslide. To this end, he led us off the Mirror Lake trail and up the Snow Creek trail. As we moved higher, the trail got rockier and trees became sparser, and the view of the Valley began to really open up.
Daddy points out Half Dome's backside:
The Rock Slide/Rock Fall/Rock Avalanche:
The trail on the other side of Mirror Lake was completely closed and buried under that mound of stone. Luckily, no one was in the area so early in the morning (the rock fall happened at 5:36 AM Saturday) so no one was buried alive...as far as we know as my Dad gleefully added to his narration.
Since Daddy was feeling poorly he didn't push us as hard as he usually does, and we turned around after reaching a waterfall near the top of the ridge we were climbing.
Sean setting up the camera for a group shot:
After returning to the main Valley floor, we tried to attend a Ranger's lecture at Lower Yosemite Falls, but we were late and couldn't find the ranger anywhere. So we visited the Lower Falls very quickly on our own:
It was pretty crowded at the base of the Falls. I think it's one of the biggest attractions to Yosemite for tourists, after all. Even though the paths are clearly laid out, people were constantly running off them to get closer to the falls. I spotted this guy, and Sean had to take a picture of him:
We love a guy who carries an umbrella to stand beneath a waterfall.
Dad thought it would be fun to hike around the Valley floor, and at first it was. We walked over to the Yosemite Chapel, where Sean's friend Matt will be getting married in May, and then thought it would be nice to walk over to Curry Village and get something to eat. On the way we passed an old stone memorial building (the name of which I just can't recall!) and I found a huge patch of nice clean snow, so I could finally make good on my promise to throw a snowball at Seanie:
I may look grim, but I am happy. Also, I hit him in the not-happy place. Oops. Totally wasn't aiming there!!
We were getting really wiped out so when Curry Village appeared, we were excited...until we realized that the food joints were all closed. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Not wanting to wait for the Yosemite shuttles, which are nice but never show up when you're hungry, we kept on walking all the way back to the Visitor's Center, when Daddy finally relented and let us take a shuttle back to the Lodge.
Even he agreed that it wasn't a good hike, though.
I think there must be a ranger talk every night at Yosemite Lodge, but tonight was special because someone let a crazy lady into the Park Service. She was telling a story - really, giving a performance - that centered around the theme that once upon a time, man and animal were the same and could speak with each other. She was telling a normal story about chasing bears and throwing rocks at them to get them out of the park and we were happily listening. She's in the middle of sitting upright in bed as a bear tears the tent wall in half, when the ranger suddenly hunches over and starts making bizarre, frightening grunting noise.
Holy cow, I think, Ranger's having a seizure or something! Or possibly demon possession!
It turns out the weird grunts are the 'universal language' that man and animals could once use to communicate together. Sure, why not? Scared the heck out of me, though.