One last journey into Yosemite before we push further north so we thought we would day trip it on two wheels, as in bike around Yosemite Valley. The weather was perfect, temperature ~75°, blue skies, and no haze, probably due to the nice breeze blowing through the valley. As Terry pulled our bikes from the truck I felt like a kid. It may have had something to do with Terry saying, “I don’t think I will wear my helmet but you probably should”. He knows me well and I’m not complaining, mind you, as I have not done much biking in the past 20 years and not sure why, because I was an avid biker before that (mental note to change that).
Although there’s lots of traffic in Yosemite Valley (almost all visitors hang out here), there are still plenty of bike paths and roads less traveled for 2-wheeling adventures. Being on a bike in a place like Yosemite reminded me of what riding a motorcycle used to feel like in the higher country, no roof over your head to obstruct your views. After taking the circuit to get different perspectives of Yosemite Falls, Bridalveil Falls and Half Dome, we opted to head to Mirror Lake, taking the road less traveled.
Mirror Lake is a small seasonal lake on Tenaya Creek. It is a stretch to call it a lake, more like a big pool. What it is is the last dregs of a large glacial lake that once consumed most of Yosemite Valley and today is on the verge of becoming extinct. You don’t come here for the lake, although many do for the swimming, as it is the biggest swimming hole in the park. What you do get, however, are some stunning views of the mountains above reflected down into the waters, most notably Mt. Watkins sitting at 8500 feet. We had to admit that these were some of the best views we had seen in Yosemite so far, and we had seen some beauties!
While checking out the great views, I stumbled upon a little cache of stacked rocks. It looked mystical to me, with the sun warming them and the mountains looming overhead. I learned that those visiting the area will add a few to the collection if the mood strikes and will continue to do this throughout the season. The snows begin to fly and the rocks come tumbling down, and the process begins anew when the warmer weather moves in. These cairns, or what looked like a small temple of hoodoos, was a great little treasure to find along the way.
After living in Yellowstone for a couple of years, hiking puts you on high alert for some predatory animals, like grizzly, bison, moose, elk with their young, etc. You don’t find that here but what we did see on this hike was rather unusual – a squirrel minus a tail!
The last part of our trip on two wheels took us back to Yosemite Village and to the Ansel Adams Gallery. It was a great way to spend a little time and there are some stunning pieces of his work, as well as those of other artists.
As we headed back out of the park, we both agreed that our trip would not feel complete unless we saw climbers on El Capitan. We proceeded to pull over, got out the binoculars, and what did we see but four climbers inching their way up the smooth granite face. SCORE – a perfect ending to a glorious day!
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