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Journeys Through America is a nonprofit organization providing educational material for all school-aged children across the country. The program will form partnerships with local school districts to provide children with a new, interactive, educational experience integrating the history of America and its National Parks. Journeys Through America's goal is to foster a fun and adventurous learning environment that will promote altruistic growth within our children and our greater community.

Yosemite National Park

By Sep 5th 2010 No Comments »

In September of 1980, John Muir drafted an article on a proposed Yosemite National Park, the way he saw it.  His descriptions were clear. Here stood before him a wild land, a vast wilderness filled with grandeur and serene, spacious valleys.

Muir’s proposed park lands “form charming sauntering grounds from which the glorious mountains may be enjoyed as they look down in divine serenity over the majestic swaths of forest that clothe their bases.”

Today, Muir’s proposed lands are just that. Serene. Spacious. Divine and majestic. Everything one of America’s most beloved national parks should be.

For me, Yosemite was a place of awe.  Half Dome, the most recognized symbol of the park, stands tall above the valley floor, opposing the dome you’ll find El Capitan, a 3,000 foot vertical rock; a rock climber’s recreational dream come true.  From the valley floor they resemble two guards protecting the raw beauty of the park.

Day 1: White Wolf/Tioga Road

We arrived mid-afternoon at Yosemite. All campgrounds in the Valley were full so we headed north to White Wolf, a humble campground tucked away off the High Sierra Tioga Road.  This at the time was not ideal, however, we realized we were in a quieter, more peaceful setting and were also given the opportunity to see more of the park’s land.

After setting up camp we decided to head out on a 4.6 mile round-trip hike to Lukens Lake, a usually overlooked, but stunning natural gem hidden within the park.  We were rewarded with breathtaking and peaceful views of a lake nestled amongst the valleys, rolling hills and high peaks of Yosemite.  With hardly anyone to share the lake with, the true reward was actually being able to sit, reflect and take in the Yosemite aura in tranquility and silence.

Day 2: The Valley

After an enjoyable day and night at White Wolf, we decided to spend the following day in the Valley – the most popular area of Yosemite and revered by many as a true heaven on earth.

Undoubtedly, the Valley is full of wonder and amazement, as it’s walled by colossal domes on every side, towering above us and towering towards the sun.  The Valley, it’s said, receives about 14,000 visitors daily during the peak summer months.  The crowds of people are as much a part of Yosemite as Half Dome is.  To avoid the masses, you need to head towards the 800+ miles of hiking trails lying just outside the Valley.

After stopping at the visitor center (and unfortunately waiting in a 15 minute line to talk to a Ranger), we were off to hike along the Merced River up to Vernal Falls.

While we were at Yosemite, we were (un)fortunate enough (whichever way you choose to look at it), to hit a good ‘ole California heat wave.  Hiking in temperatures of over 90 degrees is never fun, so we tried to keep it as cool as possible by hiking the falls.

The Mist Trail, which leads to Vernal Falls and also continues to Nevada Falls, was a steep and strenuous 1.5 mile climb to the top of Vernal Falls.  The strenuous hike was well worth it, as we were greeted by a small pond at the top of the falls, ice cold with the constant flow of the Merced River.  Unfortunately we were not alone but didn’t mind sharing this cool environment. We enjoyed bagged lunches and a few laughs as one unsuspecting tourist was carried down the slippery natural waterslide running into the pond (no worries, she was fine. Soaked, but still smiling).

The remainder of the day was spent exploring the valley and taking hundreds of pictures along the way.  For sunset, we headed to Glacier Point.  It was a picturesque way to end the day and all you could really ask for.  After watching the sun send shadows over the valley and finally turn those grayish blue hues of dusk, we retreated back to White Wolf to unwind in front of a warm fire and enjoy a few s’mores.

Day 3: Leaving Yosemite

We packed our campsite early – having to leave yet another park, but off course, off to the next.  Before leaving however, we stopped at Tuolumne Meadows.  Heading east on Tioga Road towards the meadows, we entered a portion of the park visited by few but possessing endless beauty.  More than a million years ago, Tuolumne Meadows was covered in a blanket of ice more than 2,000 feet deep. Today, the meadows leap to life every Spring and Summer, boasting some of the most beautiful fields of wildflowers found nowhere else in the park.

As we departed Yosemite, I was of course slightly depressed.  I had finally been given the chance to explore Ansel Adam’s playground and Muir’s dream come true, and every minute was amazing – but every minute went by too fast.  Yosemite is a powerful place – its massive domes, jagged peaks and peaceful meadows are images that will remain with you for a lifetime.

And, I will choose to agree with Mr. Muir on this park: “It is by far the grandest of all the special temples of Nature I was ever permitted to enter.”

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