The Art of Exploration · a diary of day trips, natural places, and miscellaneous adventures

Exploring Yosemite Valley

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013 in California
Exploring Yosemite Valley

One of my favorite things we did during our short stay in Yosemite was to take a long walk one evening through Yosemite Valley. Since few visitors were left in the park by that time, it was like we had traveled back in time to a less hectic era. The people we encountered were relaxed and eager to share friendly, unhurried conversations.

The walls of these park valleys of the Yosemite kind are made up of rocks mountains in size, partly separated from each other by narrow gorges and side canons; and they are so sheer in front, and so compactly built together on a level floor, that comprehensively seen, the parks they inclose look like immense halls or temples lighted from above. Every rock seems to glow with life. Some lean back in majestic repose; others, absolutely sheer, or nearly so, for thousands of feet, advance their brows in thoughtful attitudes beyond their companions, giving welcome to storms and calms alike, seemingly conscious yet heedless of everything going on about them, awful in stern majesty, types of permanence, yet associated with beauty of the frailest and most fleeting forms; their feet set in pine groves and gay emerald meadows, their brows in the sky; bathed in light, bathed in floods of singing water, while snow-clouds, avalanches, and the winds shine and surge and wreathe about them as the years go by, as if into these mountain mansions Nature had taken pains to gather her choicest treasures to draw her lovers into close and confiding communion with her.
~ John Muir, Nature Writings, p. 317
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Assortment

Gurnard’s Head
Gurnard's Head
I don’t normally get all weak at the knees when hiking along the edge of a steep drop-off. But pretty much all the high-wire hiking I’ve done in the past was relegated to the mountains, where steep slopes offer downcast views of distant rock and miniature trees. Here, the cliff bottoms out in a chaos of churning seas.
Monument Valley
Monument Valley
Flattop Mountain
Flattop Mountain
When I discovered that Saturday’s forecast was expected to remain clear and mild, I decide to make the most of it and to hike the Flattop Mountain Trail.