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Beauty of Yosemite

July 27, 2010|By COURTNEY BRADFORD / Pulse correspondent
  • Mirror Lake is just one of the many highlights of Yosemite National Park in California.
Courtesy of Bradford family,

This summer, my family and I traveled to California for our family vacation. We landed in San Francisco at around 11:15 a.m., picked up our rental car, and then made our way out toward Yosemite National Park.

The first thing we did when we reached Yosemite was take the park shuttle bus to Mariposa Grove, which is one of the few places in the park where you can see giant sequoia trees.

When I saw one of the "small ones," I said to my parents, "I feel short standing next to some of my friends, but that's nothing compared to this."

The average sequoia grows to be more than 250 feet tall -I'm 5 foot, 1 inch tall - and can live to be 3,000 years old. The average diameter of the tree is between 18 and 24 feet. Do you feel small yet?

The first glimpse of Yosemite Valley you see is from the Tunnel View. When I first looked down into the valley, my first thought was, "Whoa."

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That's really the only thing you can comprehend. All you see is enormous rock formations and a water fall cascading nearly 650 feet off of the side of a rock face. When you look to your left you see the majestic El Capitan, a rock formation that is about 3,000 feet in height, and if you look out into the distance, you see Half Dome. If you don't feel small next to the giant sequoia trees, you should feel small now.

The next day, we took a day trip up to Tuolumne Meadows. The meadows are located in the High Sierra mountains at 8,000 to 9,000 feet above sea level. Now, of course, the air is thinner that high up, so if you start to run; you quickly light-headed. I know from experience.

Tuolumne Meadows is the perfect place to escape the crowded sections of the valley for numerous reasons. 1. The temperature is cooler and 2. There aren't as many people. I really liked driving up to the meadows because it was just so pretty. All you see when you look around you is fields full of mountain wild flowers, streams, and small lakes.

The final adventure I experienced in Yosemite National Park was the valley itself. (We saved it for last because it's super crowded during the summer months.)

We checked out of our hotel, parked the car near the visitor center, and took a shuttle bus to the Mirror Lake trailhead. I must say I was slightly disappointed with Mirror Lake because it wasn't at its full capacity, which is to be expected in the middle of summer. Even though I was disappointed, it didn't make it any less breathtaking. When you reach Mirror Lake, you are then standing at the base of Half Dome, looking up at the peak 5,000 feet above the valley floor.

The very last thing we did before we left the park was to visit Glacier Point. In my opinion, Glacier Point is even better than the Tunnel View, because you're up higher so you can see more.

When up at Glacier Point, you're closer to Half Dome and can view both Nevada Falls and Vernal Falls. From different points you can see the Royal Arches, and if you look down to the valley floor (3, 200 down), you can see the Merced River continuing to carve the canyon even deeper than what it already is.

After visiting Yosemite National Park, I've come to realize that we humans really don't stop to see the natural beauty all around us. It also showed me how small we really are.

I'm afraid you can't fully understand what I'm saying unless you see it for yourself because, words and pictures will never do this majestic wonder any justice.

Yosemite proves that Mother Earth is truly the best architect one will ever experience in his or her lifetime.

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