After Hawthorne, we shook the dust from our feet and crossed through the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, and over the last of the Nevada Hills. We were greeted by our old familiar and endangered friend, Mono Lake.
Don't touch the tufa! (in the voice of California's 38th governor)
There was green grass maintained at the park where this boardwalk began. I sprawled out, face down. Almost forgot how it felt.
Driving south on 395, that's Yosemite in the background! Bowie's not impressed.
We quickly learned how freaking expensive it is to camp in California. Even in the national forests, a developed campsite with no water or electricity can run you $30 a night. Yeah no. We ended up staying in an empty RV park in the Bishop county fairgrounds, full hookup (and full sun) for $20 the first week. The whole place was already reserved the following week for the high school rodeo state tournament. It was right in the middle of town, but we still had nice mountain views.
We rented a car to check out Yosemite National Park, and all of the surrounding wildlife areas for the next two weeks. We did a lot of mountain hiking, tree hugging, and gasping in awe at the sight of it all.
The trees have eyes
It's kind of like traveling through a Catan board
It's a lichen-tree!
Along the trail
Hello, Tenaya Lake
Tuolumne Grove is a holy place. Giant sequoias are the largest living things on earth. I've found it mostly futile to photograph these big trees because without an actual sense of scale, they look mostly ordinary. My dinky camera doesn't like looking up into the sun either.
You need to be in their presence.
A wild Ed, for scale
*for larger pictures of the informational signs - right click the image > open image in new tab > click image again
Ed inside a fallen sequoia
A famous campsite
Meadows in Yosemite Valley (I just noticed Upper Yosemite Falls between the trees on the left!)
Sitting on the mountainside next to a tumbling creek, enjoying the view.
El Capitan (left) and Half Dome (center) hanging out with some sweet puffy clouds.
We pulled over for this wizard tree
Devil's Postpile National Monument
Just look at it.
Devils Postpile is one of the world's best examples of columnar basalt. This was a lava flow which cooled at a uniform rate. Vertical cracks develop at intersections of approximately 120 degrees. Later on, glaciers flow through, carving out the valley, exposing the 60-foot-high sheer wall, and polishing the top.
These stripes are called glacial striations. They're caused by ice and stone flowing in the glacier.
Really, really cool place. I don't know how else to say it, it's like nothing I've ever seen or dreamed of.
Also just happy that it even exists, still. The area was once a part of Yosemite National Park, but after someone discovered gold, park boundaries changed. Developers wanted to blast it to pieces and build a dam. John Muir, along with other Californian preservationists persuaded the federal government to stop the demolition. In 1911, president Taft protected the area as a National Monument.
Thank God for the environmentalists. These sacred places in our national parks and other preserves are only the remnants of what once was.
From the top of Devils Postpile, we hiked through the Ansel Adams Wilderness towards Rainbow Falls.
The sun caught these needles just right.
Aftermath of the rainbow wildfire from 1992 in the Ansel Adams Wilderness Area.
More to come!