Saturday, June 25, 2011

Day 5 - San Francisco—Seattle—Anchorage

16th February 2011

Alaskan Airlines at the gate at Seattle

Seattle - heading North

Through time and space to a far-away land...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

40 Years - Remembering

John Noel McCarthy
It is forty years since my brother was killed in Vietnam in 1971 (see earlier post). This year my reflections are on the loss of the future that was taken from our family and his own family. 

Till we meet again...

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Yosemite National Park (2)

15th February continued...

Sentinel Meadows trail
Tim, our driver and very informative guide, took us to numerous outlooks and viewpoints for photo shots. As part of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, the National Park itself is huge, but the Yosemite glacial valley is only 7 miles long by just under 1 mile wide. The valley floor is flat at 4,000 ft a.s.l. with its nearly vertical granite walls rising another 3,000 to 4,000 feet, and the Merced River flows through this canyon.

We were taken to the village and given numerous options for several hours, to explore at our will. Daniel and I agreed to defer lunch and set out and find the trails for Swinging Bridge from where I hoped to photograph reflections of this magnificent scenery. Then we would go on to the Yosemite Falls. The next hours were some of the most memorable and precious of my lifetime. We walked an estimated 6 km or so on several trails, with beautiful and changing views at every turn, so it was not surprising that we took over 300 photos between us. 

Yosemite Falls reflected in the Merced River,
taken from Swinging Bridge
River reflections
Walking towards Yosemite Falls

Cathedral Beach

Californian Red Fir
Meeting only the occasional person or two on the trail, we were able to experience this beautiful valley without the crowds of  summer we had heard about. The scenery sparkled in the sunlight and clear air, with snow on the surrounding delicate meadows, and the sound of flowing water.

We heard, then saw our first woodpecker, tapping on the Red Fir trees paralleling the trail. It was strangely rewarding to actually experience something which may be common for those living in this country, but about which we had only been taught as a child. Later we walked through groves of Red Firs, a dramatically different experience from walking in the Australian bush or amongst eucalypts. 

We saw deer, both in the bush and later around the village. As we left the Lower Yosemite Falls area, a cheeky squirrel accompanied us, racing alongside, leaping from log to log. I cannot adequately describe the true beauty and atmosphere of this place. Today is magic!

Yosemite Chapel (below Half Dome)

Loved this old bridge we passed on the trail

Merced River
Sentinel Meadows boardwalk, Upper Yosemite Falls in background
Upper Yosemite Falls cascading over Yosemite Point
We departed at 3:30 pm, ahead of a heavy snow storm which was reported to be moving in around 4:00 pm, so we could traverse the road safely. Overnight, the valley would be transformed into a new picture book for tomorrow's visitors.