I could make out the silhouettes of the familiar granite behemoths…
When I arrived in Yosemite, the only thing I could see was the reflection of the dim motel lights hanging to the thick fog that filled the valley. It had taken me close to seven hours to finally make it here, most of that time spent cursing my GPS for losing service midway through the drive and attempting to navigate winding mountain back roads in a crazy storm of sleet and heavy clouds. My goal was to catch the sunrise from high above the valley, so I woke close to 4am and moved to pack up my car again after my first proper night’s sleep in a bed in days.
It’s a funny feeling, visiting a place you’ve never experienced firsthand but vicariously enjoyed through the photographs of so many others before you… Almost like living inside of a dream or a distant memory. As I drove deeper into the park in the dark, I could make out the silhouettes of the familiar granite behemoths that surrounded the valley floor and my stomach was full with butterflies in eager anticipation for the first signs of morning light.
Once I got to Tunnel View, I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that I was more or less alone. I’m sure Yosemite in the summer yields a completely different experience, but at the start of winter I was grateful to be met with peaceful solitude high above the trees. As the sun began to peak above the mountains, light flooded throughout the landscape and cascaded across the many waterfalls that pour from the sides of the hanging valleys. A thick cloud of fog meandered through the trees below and I felt as though I was staring at a postcard of a place I never thought I’d see with my own eyes.
While I only had one short day to explore here, my time spent chasing coyotes next to the Merced River and feeling the cold spray of an alpine waterfall left a lasting feeling that I think I’ll be chasing for a while. Yosemite National Park is a special kind of magic and I’m eagerly awaiting the day I can return, hopefully next time with chalkier hands and about a hundred or so more hours to spend marveling at massive granite walls and trees as old as time.
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