The Passport Trip – part 2

-5 journals of a summer trip through WA, OR, and CA in 2010-

 Sierra –

 From San Francisco it’s not far to Yosemite. It is absolutely hopeless to try to stay in The Valley without booking months in advance, but who really wants to be in this zoo more than necessary anyway? Down in Yosemite Valley people step on each others toes, it’s an endless traffic jam. It’s still extremely beautiful, but this is a place where you can test how far your wonderful innate sense of compassion has deteriorated.

 The road through the park had just opened a few days before. Most of the land was still snow-covered and the incredibly exhilarating Yosemite-feeling was in the air. We passed right through and made camp in our old place outside the park below Tioga Pass.

We’ve roamed all these mountains in so many happy years. Up in the middle here is Mt. Hoffman where marmots once started to nibble on us while we slept. Right over the forest in the distance is Lambert Dome close to Tuolumne Meadows where one can practice friction climbing. Further left is Cathedral Peak where you better know how to do it.

 All the trails were still buried under snow, but we know the place and found our ways easily. This is a view from 11000-foot Gaylor Peak. The ice on Tioga Lake has barely broken up.

 We met two kite skiers from Mammoth who played on the windy slopes.

 One day we ride our bike up to Tioga Pass. A grueling 3000 foot climb; it still works well, we actually enjoy it immensely.

 Down in Lee Vining spring has progressed. No mosquitoes yet – it’s absolutely fantastic! I even catch some trout.

We go back into the park every day.

This is Upper Yosemite Falls.

 In the valley the falls are running like crazy this year. All the rain was a miracle for California. (On the way down we saw Shasta Lake brim full for the first time ever.)

 Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls. From many miles away you can hear the thunder.

 Glacier Point.

We have seen many, many magnificent places on this globe; I still consider this spot one of the most spectacular places in the world.

 Once we spent an unforgettable full moon night on Half Dome and ran around naked up there while the valley was choking in smoke from forest fires. We also slept on Clouds Rest – in the distance behind Half Dome – and were in heaven. (I’ve heard one needs a permit now to join the crowds in summer to go up the cable walk on Half Dome.)

On Clouds Rest some time ago in the early 90s.

Yosemite Falls

There is a unique fragrance in the air all over the high Sierra. It must be the Ponderosa Pines, the warm tree resin, the altitude, it makes me crazy with delight.

We spend a full day on Glacier Point, mostly just lying around in the sun and getting drunk on the view.

 This is a full panorama from Yosemite Falls left to Nevada Falls far right.

 One day we climb up to Upper Yosemite Falls

 … and look where the water masses begin to tumble down.

 On the way down most of the water literally evaporates, and the vapor actually falls much slower than liquid water.

 This is the point of no return, another ‘jumping-off place‘ where the world as we know it seems to end.

People don’t jump from here so often. It takes an all-out physical effort to get here that puts you back to your senses and grounds you where you are. (Only poor idiots sometimes fall here accidentally).

In fact, the path up to there is some challenge! 3000 feet and barely covering a mile of ground. And it’s all steep, slippery, dust-covered rock where you are continuously at the verge of stumbling. It’s clearly the worst imaginable what you can do to your knees. And I still come down smiling!!! (15 years ago my doctor told me that I should prepare for a knee replacement soon.)

 This is where it all comes down. The noise is incredible! You don’t really hear it, you feel it in your stomach. You hear the content of the story with your ears, the subtle nuances, the variations of the theme, but you get the ‘meaning‘ in your belly. You get thoroughly wet, which is only welcome, cooling you down on the relentless climb.

All the water cascades down a narrow canyon and soon falls again – the Lower Falls – not quite as high but just as violent.

 * * *

 Back down in The Valley it happens to be Father’s Day. Oh my gosh, it truly is a zoo. We take it as fun and actually go into the Village Grill (too bad, there is no real Mc Donald) and feast on a real hamburger with all the bells and whistles like French Fries and coke – I never knew that stuff is so sweet, it made me gag – and hang out with the crowd for a while. We are tired and in a compassionate mood and actually enjoy it all.

 * * *

                                                                           Klaus   End of June 2010

This entry was posted in 2010, Other Travels, Passport Trip 2010, Summers and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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