Tag Archives: yosemite national park

Colossal Cones

Surrounded by trees extending almost three hundred feet straight up, I had an understandable urge to look skyward as we wandered through the Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park.  Fortunately, a young boy showed me what was lying right at my feet:  giant sequoia cones!

Winter winds blow pollen from the sequoias’ lower branches up to the female cones congregating the trees’ crowns.  Naturally occurring lightening fires eventually dry out the mature cones, releasing as many as two hundred seeds per cone and allowing the life cycle to roll around another time.

The trees themselves disappear to almost unfathomable heights from the ground below.  The child to cone size comparison provided a more tangible illustration of  “gigantic”.

Updated from February 15, 2010

Yosemite National Park Things To Do


Vernal Fall at Yosemite National Park

A springtime thaw adds drama to the already majestic at Yosemite National Park.  Massive angular peaks and endless green valleys easily absorb your entire focus.  You are fully impressed.  Until you hear the roar of a waterfall and find there is even more.

At first it’s merely a distant sound.  As you make your approach, it grows into a throbbing beneath your feet as air and ground vibrate the steady staccato of falling water. When sight finally meets sound, the water flow seems endless. Gushing torrents jet skyward upon impact into a dense billowing mist.


At 317 feet Vernal Falls is rather short compared to towering Yosmite Falls (2420 feet) and Bridalveil (670 feet), but it packs the power of a heavy lifter, tossing down a river of water that explodes over boulders in its race to the Merced River below.

The trail to Vernal Falls begins as an uphill walk that feels more and more like a climb.  The steady upward grade works the leg muscles well and will provide a good cardio workout if you push your speed even moderately.  The viewing bridge provides both a tantalizing glimpse of the thundering fall and perspective as one views the tumbling water spilling away toward the valley below.

From here, it becomes a wet walk and a strenuous hike.  Sheer drop-offs near the Fall make it best to leave one’s imagination paused and the mind fully focused.  We waded through icy puddles of water as the drenching mist engulfed us.  The climb up was slippery over uneven boulders and big block steps.  The soaking drizzle was frigid enough to add some speed to our ascent.

The rampant power of  Vernal Fall’s surging waters endowed it with a seeming permanence, making it hard to picture the upcoming dry season.  Yet another paradox was the utter stillness that awaited us at the top.

Updated from March 22, 2010.

Next: The Emerald Pool

Yosemite National Park Things To Do


Featured Photo: Tioga Pass

Featured Photo:  Tioga Pass in Yosemite National Park (California) at sunset.

You don’t hurry in Yosemite.  On weekends, because of the crowds.  On other days, because there are no crowds.  And through the twisting cloud-kissing roads like Tioga Pass Road?  You just don’t.  Which means that you might find a minute to pull over and save a stunning moment forever with your camera.

This photo is from Summer 2009.  You can read more about Tioga Pass here: Twisting Through Tioga Pass

And find more Yosemite NP adventures here: Tranquil Waters in Yosemite , Half-Mile Plunge , Vernal Fall at Yosemite National Park .  Even more(!) can be found under the “California”, “National Parks” and “Yosemite National Park” links in the right side bar.

Yosemite National Park Things To Do


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