The natural wonder of the Yosemite Valley has held my rapture since my dad took me there on my first visit as a child. In the beginning I simply loved the raging of the waterfalls, but as I studied geology in college (I'm a bit of a rock geek - Geology Minor) I began to look at the Valley in a new light with an understanding of how the glaciers, rock falls and avalanches, and water have carved and eroded the Valley to its present day beauty.
Even as a wee-one I was thrilled to come home with photos of the falls, the sheer granite faces of El Capitan, and the stunning views of Half Dome. With a stop at Tunnel View being somewhat of a tradition, I've always yearned for that dazzling clear Valley shot, you know the one... with the cerulean blue skies, perfectly lit rocks and crystal clear air. Unfortunately Mother Nature has not been on my side and all of my visits have also included haze, fog or rain. With spring currently shining down on us I brought high hopes for my "perfect shot" of the immense Valley on this Spring Break trip.
Leaving San Diego early Wednesday morning had us dressed warmly and driving through a chilly out of season rain storm. Arriving at our host destination in Oakhurst (we stayed with friends about an hour outside the Valley) some 6 hours later we all felt overdressed in the 74 degree weather, and we doubted the weather guy's forecast of snow within the next 24 hours.
This weather guy, however, was right! Some 16 hours later we were back in the car, dressed in the warmest clothes we had with us along with borrowed gloves, hats and jackets. Heading into the Yosemite Valley for our lunch reservations at the esteemed Ahwahnee Hotel the snow covered trees flew by. Branches heavy with a few hours of snow glistened in the sun that occasionally popped through the stormy clouds. Moving up and down in elevation our views ranged from brilliant blooming Red Buds to more snow laden trees and vistas. The Merced River raged alongside of us in places and meandered in others providing stunning scenery for our hour plus drive.
|Lower Yosemite Falls|
A stop at the Yosemite Falls provided us with a rare sight in the lava-like flowing Frazil Ice. Frazil Ice provides dramatic natural ice flows which begin in the falls of Yosemite, but only during proper weather conditions and usually only in March and April. Our friends who have had literally hundreds of days in the Valley had never seen the incredible Frazil, but on this day we were all excited to view this rare treat.
The Ahwahnee Hotel, our lunch destination, holds beauty, history and a most perfect location in Yosemite Valley in that the site for the Ahwahnee, once a village of the native Miwoks, was chosen because of its exposure to the sun and stunning views of Yosemite's icons – Half Dome, Yosemite Falls and Glacier Point. Giant fireplaces are available for guests to warm their chilly fingers in addition to the magnificent dining room lined with floor to ceiling windows providing stunning views of the gushing Yosemite Falls. Described as the "crown jewel of Yosemite dining", the dining room boasts a 34-foot-high beamed ceiling with large sugar pine trestles that complement the room’s granite pillars. The exterior of the hotel was designed to reflect the natural beauty of the Valley and to blend in with its beautiful surroundings.
|The Ahwahnee Hotel with a Bacon Burger and French Onion Soup|