Returning from a high school reunion with a classmate, we stopped in Yosemite on our way back. The classmate hadn't been to the park in 60 years. So my goal was to show here changes in Yosemite Village and the layout of the whole valley. When she last visited, Yosemite Village was on Southside Drive between the Chapel and the Sentinel Bridge. There is been a LOT of water under that bridge in the last 60 years.
The park has had the Mariposa Grove cut-off for reconstruction of quite a while, but now they are also reworking the Day-Use Parking area and the intersection between it and the village. Usually, in the off season, one or the other of the North or South side drives are closed off for some kind of maintenance and the other is turned into a two way access. This time, both roads were set up as two-way access for at least part of their length.
Our first stop as at Hetch Hetchy. I had explained to her the history behind the reservoir and how it came to be there. She, too, grew up in the Bay Area and, as I did, accepted the reservoir as what it is as it is all she ever new. And, like me, became appalled when she discovered the history behind its creation. We marveled at the engineering and the obvious capacity created by the dam and granite cliffs. But couldn’t help but be disgusted by the total disregard for the landscape, scenery and habitat destroyed by the reservoir. Especially since it could have been placed elsewhere and, as it turns out, less expensively (and through the efforts of the likes of Restore Hetch Hetchy may be restored). The reservoir’s water level was down a little, but the day was beautiful. I could very clearly see the rockfall that cut off the Northside trail (see the area outlined in red).
On the way out we stopped to survey some of the damage from the Rim Fire from a couple years ago.
Once we got into the main park, out first stop was Tunnel View (See the feature image). I explained that, originally, the road from Wawona (or Clark’s Station), cut across, high up on the cliff behind what is now Tunnel View and provided an outlook known as Inspiration Point. By most accounts, Tunnel View IS the present day Inspiration Point and this afternoon was no different.
We then moved up to Glacier Point to take a look at the vantage point it offered of Half Dome. We were not disappointed.
Though the pass was to be closed this evening due to a coming storm, and, here, we see the beginnings of it, nevertheless, the valley’s waterfalls at this time were all bone-dry.
After Glacier Point, we called it a day.
The next day, we went back to Yosemite Village and visited the Visitor’s Center, Ansel Adam’s Gallery and the Museum. And I gave her a tour of Yosemite Cemetery.
I was kind of surprised. Normally, I have trouble at the cemetery because I’ve read so much about most of these people that I feel I know them and a sense of mourning and sadness comes over me. But explaining the history and who’s who somehow removed me a bit and I was able to make the presentation without becoming overwhelmed myself.
From the Cemetery, we took a final tour around the valley before heading off to Wawona and the Big Trees Lodge for a very nice lunch. I showed her the placard display near the Sentinel Bridge that showed the old Sentinel Hotel and a rough map of the pre-1960s “Upper” Village. Then we walked across the street, opposite where the Sentinel Hotel was, to the site of one of the first hotels in the valley.
Originally called “The Upper House”, it was purchased in 1864 by James Mason Hutchings and became “Hutchings House” then Barnard’s House then part of the Sentinel Hotel complex and was called the Cedar House. While still run/owned by Hutchings, he had John Muir build on a room called “The Big Tree” Room. All remnants of the Sentinel Hotel were torn down between 1938 and 1941. The Cedar House was the last to go. The big tree remained until it died in 2006 and, later, the park service cut the top off the tree to keep it from falling across the road way. The deadwood in the foreground is what remains of that “felling” and what remains of the tree still standing has its top peaking out from behind the bush.
After a nice lunch at the Big Trees Lodge, we made a quick visit to the Thomas Hill Studio. I may do a brief post about him later.
We then explored the Pioneer Yosemite History Center. During the Summer Months, in addition to the iron – horse-drawn equipment and the various buildings, there are a number carriages and buggies owned by people of prominence back in the 19th century. These buggies are usually put away in the off-season and were nowhere to be seen when we visited on October 2nd. What we did see was the Covered Bridge. The bridge was built by Galen Clark in 1857 creating “Clark's Station”, but the Washburn Brothers covered it in the 1870s after purchasing the property. The Brothers were from Vermont and wanted a touch of home.