There is always a risk going to Yosemite National Park at this time of year that some of the passes will be closed due to ice and snow, but if you are lucky, and I was, the snow has melted and the rivers and waterfalls will be in full flood.
This park was the first National Park in America, and the President who signed the document giving it to the American people in perpetuity was Abraham Lincoln! In the middle of the Civil War, he received a letter from someone who cared enough about the grandeur and beauty of Yosemite to see that it should not be privatised, asking for it to be made a National Treasure, Abraham Lincoln read the letter and even without seeing the gorge at all, sign it over to the Nation. So began the new status of National Park that now covers Yellowstone, Harrington and many others.
Yosemite has been horribly anthropomorphised by people over the years, the Native Americans who lived there for 8000 years before the Europeans found it, gave the rock formations stories and the Europeans came along, moved the Native Indians (not without a fight) to reservations and called the rock formations The Dome, The Cathedral, The Three Brothers and the waterfalls, The Bridal Veil and other such.
This is franky to humanise something so majestic, grand and gigantic that it defies belief and strikes wonder and fear into the human heart.
To stand on the valley floor, already 4000 feet above sea level and to raise the eyes to the tops, towering another 4000 feet above you is to breathe in awe, to gasp in astonishment at the power of Nature. A huge convulsion that carried the Sierra Nevada 9000 feet into the air, filled it with water, then ice and then ground down the whole valley, leaving boulders and murrain along an enormous stretch of land. And the process continues…in 1997 a huge flood swept through the valleys wiping away the stains of Man and clearing up, and closing the valley for three months ready for a new start. Only two years ago a landslide closed the only road into the valley until two new temporary bridges could be constructed to cross the Mercedes River.
The whole valley is filled with magnificent pines, ponderosa, sugar, and sequoia. These redwoods live for thousands of years, and in the Mariposa grove there are several huge trees that are already (famously) 4000 years old. When I was a child I was shown photographs of these trees in a Victorian bioscope (I think that is what it is called – a slide with two photographs is put into a slot and you look through two eyepieces and the photos become 3D). I can say now, that even the young trees are quite stupendous. There is also a valley full of dogwood, its soft white petals, with the dark brown centre in flower at this time of year.
Now, unusually, I shall leave the valley and its flora to speak for themselves: