Anna and I met some of her college friends in Yosemite for a long weekend over MLK day. We traveled through the valley in the dark and arrived Friday night. Not having seen the valley on the way in made it all the more impressive to wake up to. We stayed at the Yosemite Lodge, the spectacular granite wall almost overwhelms the huge windows. I walked around the in the snow and shot some photos to the sounds of thunder – the ice that formed overnight on the falls was warming and crashing off the rock face.
After a hike to the Yosemite Falls we got acquainted with the excellent (and free) valley shuttle service and took off to the trail head for Mirror Lake. We did the long loop, but never found the other end of the loop. The trail was a nice mix of environments and offered a very different look at the valley. Mirror Lake is smaller than it once was, and at its smallest in the winter, so we didn’t get the iconic mirror view. There were enough still bodies of unfrozen water to give us a glimpse of what it would have been in its peak.
That night I wore skates with a toe pick for the first time. I definitely hadn’t skated in a long time, but the differences between a hockey skate and a figure skate (hockey skates have a shorter blade, rockered edge, no toe pick, and a different boot) sure didn’t help. I still managed to fool a few people into believing I knew what I was doing. The rink wasn’t anything special, but skating under the stars and the incense-cedars is worth the cost of entry.
The next morning we took it easy. We soaked up the morning sun from the giant windows like lizards on a rock while finishing off some reading. The fully relaxed state helped for our hike on the Upper Yosemite Fall trail. We didn’t have enough time or motivation to get to the very top of the valley, but we made it about half a mile past Columbia Rock to the view the top of the falls. The view of the valley from Columbia Rock was pretty amazing, and well worth the mile of switchbacks up. We watched the last fingers of sunlight disappear from the valley floor, then headed down. That night we had pizza at Curry Village and visited with the other groups.
Monday we enjoyed a fancy-pants breakfast at explored a bit more of the valley on our way out. First up was Bridal Falls. Because the falls are in the shade almost all of the day, they have a lot more ice than the Yosemite falls. The view was great, but the ice mist made the trail a bit treacherous. On our way out we came across a man flat on his back and just coming to after a fall. Good thing we had a physical therapist with us. After making sure nothing was broken or otherwise damaged, we helped him off the ice and down the trail to the waiting EMTs. Excitement over, we headed up to the Wawona Tunnel overlook. The view was spectacular, but our time was up, we had to head back to San Jose to fly out. Our trip to the valley was short, but definitely enjoyable.