Category: travel

Yosemite — day 3 (Mirror lake)

The day started harshly. I woke up at night from a distinct smell of smoke. When the sun came up, we discovered that the smoke was all around our house. Apparently the Yosemite fire department decided to ignite some area in Wawona, CA to help create a healthier forest and lowers the risk of more dangerous fires in the future. But we got scared until we figured it out.

Nevertheless, our journey continued according to our plan. As they say: “In Yosemite, you may never witness the same scene twice” — we decided to make a stop at the Tunnel view again this day. It never disappoints.

In the first half of the day, both the Upper and the Lower Yosemite waterfalls are highlighted by the sun. But it’s probably the most visited sight in the valley. This fact has negatively impacted my impressions about the Lower Yosemite waterfalls trail. May be I have already been spoiled by the other three major waterfalls that I visited in the previous two days in Yosemite National Park. But what’s remarkable about this one is probably the way it breaks into two steps and the composition you can make having the trail with the tall pine trees framing the waterfall.

Landscape photography these days would probably be very different if there was no Yosemite National Park and no Ansel Adams. His work in the park has brought us the beauty of nature of several major parks and inspired millions of people, including myself, to appreciate and care about the world around us. Hundred years after he’s published his first photographs of Yosemite, I finally enjoyed his gallery in the park itself.

The most anticipated location to visit for the day was the Mirror lake. It’s a formation of four small lakes, shaped by the Tenaya creek, that later flows into the Merced river. We could have reached the lakes from the Lower Yosemite waterfalls trail, but it would take us more than 4 miles of hike to connect the two trails. Instead we decided to drive closer to the beginning of the Mirror lake trail. As an alternative you could also take a bus that circulates around the Yosemite valley and, if you are patient enough, it can navigate you around for free. The hike is considered a medium difficulty, with almost no elevation gain, its complexity comes from a distance of 4.4 miles if you take the entire loop around the lakes. You can read more about the trail on this resource.

As soon as we started the hike we heard a very loud sound, like a thunder. On the southern part of the valley, probably by the Glacier point we saw a huge falling masses of snow. It was an avalanche or a rock slide with snow. Although we were far enough, we didn’t feel secure and had no idea how far the debris would reach. The kids that were running in a campground nearby seemed excited about it, though.

It has gotten much warmer today. Everyone in our group was enjoying the weather. But for me, the absence of clouds in the sky mostly means the landscapes are going to be much less dramatic.

On any day, when hiking in the Yosemite valley, you can watch it change in an unrecognizable way. Since you are surrounded by the massive granite rocks, each has it’s unique shape, with every hour the sun goes by and the same mountain would look completely different every time you pass by. It’s an infinite source of inspiration.

The Mirror lake, or better to say lakes, are right between the North Dome and the Half Dome peaks that create spectacular backgrounds that reflect in the lakes. I assume that’s where the name comes from. Because the trail goes in loop around the lakes, it offers 360 degrees of unique perspectives on the mountains.

On our way back we visited the stone sculpture garden. A place where visitors would build towers using rocks of various sizes and shapes. We also made a small contribution to the project to mark the amazing experience we had in the past days in Yosemite National Park.

That was the last day of our vacation in the valley. As we were driving back we saw a wolf walking by the road. Felt like the wildlife of the park wanted to say “Good bye”.