Along with the north coast, I went to Yosemite several times in the last couple months. Absolutely amazing place, as the millions of people who visit all know. I used to be bothered by the crowds, but I’ve learned to navigate the park and appreciate it without feeling bothered by them. Bringing my bicycle with me has helped immeasurably. The Valley’s a beautiful, flat place to ride around in, and a bicycle is the key to avoiding the daily traffic jams. (The park service really needs to figure out a way to get people parking outside the valley and just using bikes and shuttle buses inside. I’m skeptical it will ever happen, but I can dream, right?) Climbing has also helped me love the valley. Obviously because the climbing is so incredible, but also because I’ve ended up spending longer periods of time sitting and staring. And not just on the climbs. Most days I would meet up with my climbing partner at the bicycle parking at Lower Yosemite Falls, and while I waited for him, I started to really appreciate the effect that the view of the the falls has for people.
It’s the tallest falls in North America, 2,425 feet, and probably the most viewed and photographed. Lawrence Halprin redesigned the approach trail and picnic area a few years ago, and there is a lot of stonework done by the same company that did all the stonework at Stern Grove. I don’t really remember what the approach was like before the redesign and I couldn’t find any before photos of the project online, but I remember a parking lot and a lot of crumbling asphalt. I’m pretty sure the almost French-style view of the falls was already cleared, but possibly with trees starting to grow back in and obscure it again. The redesign took out the parking area, made the trail into a loop, and rehabbed a lot of degraded habitat areas. The park service has a summary of the project.
There’s a photo of the approach here. I can’t count how many times I heard people say, ‘Wow.’ Below is a photo from the other side of the valley.
This entry was posted on Sunday, August 7th, 2011 at 8:11 am and is filed under sketchbook. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.