Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Yosemite December

Two friends and I spent two days in Yosemite...here just days before Christmas.  We didn't plan too much going in, just knew we'd hit up Yosemite and figure it out as we went, since we were unsure what weather would allow, and because we just wanted to let the trip unfold itself as it would.  I am usually a big planner...but if felt like this trip shouldn't be unplanned, I strangely couldn't rally to the task. And I'm glad I did not.

Anyways, due to traveling logistics and weather, etc., we did not have too much time in the park each day.  At first, I think that this reality frustrated us all a bit.  Because we hungered for time in the mountains and woods, and we all had been fantasizing about a long, rigorous hike, up to an elevation at which we'd gain a grand perspective of the valley.  However, try as we might to enable this to happen, it did not.  But, as I looked back at this during the trip and now, it seems that it was for the best.  Because, if you are focused on the miles to get in and your central purpose is to go up and on, you do not get to take in the beauty around you as much.  Both physical exertion and absorption of beauty have their place in wilderness recreation, and I am appreciative that, in this case, I was reminded that slowness is sometimes the best means to digest wilderness.

So the first day we pulled over near a footbridge (Sentinel Bridge?) that had a trail that went over the Merced River and gave us a view of Yosemite Falls (?).  To be honest, I wasn't really looking at maps and signs to identify where we were...which is strange for me. I usually am so fixated on "what am I looking at" and need to know, but this time I was just content with being and seeing.  Strange.

Anyways, I had been to Yosemite in the fall, and I thought it beautiful then. But I think winter is superior here.  Everything had a melancholy blue hue to it.  The December chill had the effect of making you feel you were breathing in the place. It was delicious.  It was addictive.

Daylight was fleeting so, we went to our campsite in the foothills with plans to return on the morrow.

The second day we were greeted by rain and heavy, grey skies. We were thrilled about it.  We took a few stops along the road before getting to our trail head to explore some areas in the glorious damp.

Then, we were greeted with a view of the valley in fog.  The clouds hung eerily to the thick conifer forests below and accented the valley's peaks in wisps.  We stayed to drink in the view for quite a while, truly awe stricken and loving the gloom, before continuing on to our day hike.

We hiked up a portion of the Four Mile Trail, getting caught in the rain.  The sound was intoxicating.  And everything comes alive in the damp: the smell of wet dirt and wood, the aroma of sap, and the color of everything around us popped.  Moss hung thickly on rocks and tree branches, and although the view below us as we climbed up was compromised, we were not at all disappointed.  In fact, at least for the three of us, we rather prefer the clouds and rain to a clear view.

As we piled in the car just before sunset, we were damp and happy.  And the gloomy conditions ushered us all the way back to the foothills.  Two brief days in Yosemite is certainly not enough, but seeing Yosemite in December is well worth it.

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