Right, onwards! To our second full day in Yosemite, featuring waterfalls! views! herons! coyotes again! and corvids! (I love corvids, don’t you? If you ever wonder what happened to the dinosaurs, just imagine a crow the size of an SUV. There you go.) Leslie recommended a hike up to Vernal Falls, about three miles there and back. Elaine decided to stay around the village and go for a wander, but the rest of us set off for our hike. We were distracted momentarily at the start by the sight of numerous climbers on the rock wall looming over the trailhead car park. It was much smaller and closer to us than El Capitan to the road, allowing us to see the climbers upon it with the naked eye, picking them out largely by the flecks of colour provided by their clothing – red, turquoise, green and yellow. Although they were relatively close to us they were still smaller than ants on the vastness of the valley wall. Leslie also pointed out the place where a rock slide some years previously had come down and crushed some of the cars below it. Fortunately no rocks fell whilst we were there 🙂.
And then we set off, down a trail alongside the delightful Merced River. As this was autumn the river was low, since all of Yosemite’s rivers are fed by meltwater from the winter snows and therefore are at their most impressive in the spring. We could see the mighty Yosemite Falls from our accommodation and whilst we were there it was the merest white thread sliding over a rock lip stained and carved over a much wider area by the spring deluge. It was like going to see Usain Bolt and finding him stretched on a sofa in his dressing gown having a little nap. No matter, the rest of the park was still totally awesome. As we walked along the river I regretted not packing my swimming gear, which I’m sure I wouldn’t have been thinking in the Spring as the waters roared down the valley.
As the trail proceeded up the river it and the river diverged, the river running at the bottom of a deep gorge carved by its waters over numerous winters and the trail climbing the gorge sides. We went past moss covered rocks, tumbled boulders, leaning trees decked with gold and red autumn leaves, and views, views, views, through pine forests acrosst the gorge to sharp grey peaks lit by brilliant sunshine outlined against azure skies. I kept expecting Gandalf to appear and announce that we were nearly at Rivendell. It was completely different to the hike of the previous day, and just as impressive.