Tuesday, April 26, 2005 | 20 commentsby
Majestic, nearly vertical rocky cliffs surrounding a rich green valley, a multitude of waterfalls streaming in from the snow capped peaks, millennia old Giant Sequoia trees unmatched in their stature and girth, clear blue lakes continuously drinking fresh water from the melted ice and nature still untouched by human progress attract thousands of avid rock climbers, hikers, campers and tourists from all around the United States to the Yosemite National Park.
The drive leading to Yosemite Valley is not for the faint-hearted. Narrow meandering roads boasting a downward / upward slope of more than 10 percent that stretches at times to several miles without respite, with thousands of feet-deep trenches on one side appearing to have their jaws open, waiting patiently for a careless driver to satisfy their appetite. To do it justice, those jaws do fascinate an onlooker who has the luxury to stop the car in one of those rare scenic spots.
Such stop areas bring reprieve to the people who start feeling that they have loaned their lives in the hands of the driver for too long.
The real test, however, still awaits an already nervous passenger who has been too hasty in heaving a sigh of relief. The best scenic vista, namely the Glacier Point reserves for itself the most perilous road. That road is not only narrower, but at places has been partially worn off with the flow of melted ice reaching the base of the mountains creating fissures that can easily topple a vehicle on one side if the driver lacks the necessary skill to maneuver at such a critical point. It seems to be an open invitation to visit the valley, without the aid of the road.
Glacier point, however, opens the gates to a different world. A world full of serenity, natural beauty, filled with the sweet regular music of waterfalls falling in the distance and the magnificent Half Dome, visible in the background of summits adorned by snow. The varying textures of rocky cliffs appear different at various times of the day. When the day is bright, the cliffs appear lifeless and gray against the azure sky but as the shades of the twilight get sprinkled on them they appear to wake up. When the darkness falls, the stars twinkle against the dark fabric of space. The silhouettes of the cliffs appear to stand up like mythical gods, protecting those ancient civilizations and their faithful creatures that may have dwelled in the valley. This illusion is caused by the absence of any artificial source of energy present in the Park. Authorities have strived hard to preserve the true nature of this place as it has been from scores of centuries.
Hiking trails offer an even closer look at nature. Though energy sapping and testing physical endurance in the best of athletes they are well worth the effort. Trails are categorized according to the level of difficulty and some of them do require special training before one can surmount their challenge.
Most of these trails take the hikers close to the head of various waterfalls allowing for even more appreciation. The mist starts becoming dense as one approaches the apex of the fall, the colors of the rainbow appear every now and then, the tiny water droplets suspended in air after striking the rocks from a height of more than a thousand feet make the trail slippery, demanding caution and agility.
Squirrels, mountain birds and other animals can be seen close to such bounties of nature singing in their own peculiar note along with the flow of water. A view from the top of the waterfall shows an observer looking downwards, water disappearing at a distance after traversing a tortuous path chiseled by time through the nonchalant rocks.
A vertical drop of nearly 4000 feet, authored by nature, appears to be done in a pain-staking manner by carving it out in a spherical rock to form one of the most amazing views in Yosemite. The Half-Dome thus formed serves to be the most precious jewel in the crown of the Valley. Its angular edges, the near-horizontal ledge that suddenly ends in a discontinuity, to reveal the extent of the depression is sufficient to make the boldest feel dizzy for a moment. The other half is smoothly rounded to give it the appearance of a primitive monarch's head, writing history in permanent ink to give its grandeur and magnanimity the finishing touches, indefatiguably rising to its true glory to face the golden light of every dusk and dawn.
It is a place to discover one's own love for the nature as the gamut of scenic experience that Yosemite National Park has to offer is extremely rich.