Thursday: This is the interior of the restaurant. I like the architecture. The National Park Service tries hard to design buildings that blend into the parks. I shot this at ISO 400, lens wide open (f/3.5), no flash, hand-held at 1/6 second! I don’t know how I held the camera as steady as I did, but it’s not bad.
Julie and I checked out of our cabins and loaded our cars. By coincidence, she was also driving a Jetta, borrowed from a relative in Southern California. She was heading back there to drop off the car and visit more people, before flying back to her hometown. Driving toward the southern exit, by which we’d entered the park, we stopped at the Wawona Hotel to grab a park shuttle to the Mariposa Grove. Yosemite has three groves of giant sequoias, with Mariposa being the largest grove. It is very close to the southern entrance of the park, but there is very limited parking there, and it is highly recommended that people park at Wawona and ride the shuttle.
We soon entered a land of big trees. Still recovering from the 14.2-mile hike to Half Dome and back, we elected to buy tickets for a tram ride through the grove, rather than to hike through.
This is the Fallen Monarch tree. I am used to trees decaying within a few years after falling, but this tree has been on the ground a very long time. Wikipedia has a photo from about a century ago of a cavalry troop standing on this tree.
The tram ride continues:
This is the Faithful Couple–two sequoias that grew close together, with their trunks eventually merging into one:
This is the Clothespin Tree. The Mariposa Grove, along with Yosemite Valley, were the first parts of the park that were protected by the government. In the early decades of the government’s stewardship, efforts were made to prevent forest fires. However, scientists later discovered that fires are essential to allowing the sequoias to grow and reproduce, and so controlled fires are now allowed. The sequoias are so big and sturdy that fire doesn’t usually destroy them, though a few trees have very serious scars as a result. This tree has a hole burned completely through it, in the shape of a clothespin.
A closer view:
This is the Mariposa Tree:
Here is the Fallen Tunnel Tree. It fell over during 1969:
Loggers cut down some sequoias, but the giant trees tend to shatter upon impact, as may be seen in the next photograph. This led many loggers to focus on other trees.
This is the Telescope Tree. Fire has burned a hole into which one can enter and look up and see the sky.
A fallen and broken tree:
I don’t think these close-growing trees have been named. At least I didn’t see a sign.
More big trees beside a trail:
Julie poses in front of one of the giant sequoias:
As you’ve seen, I’ve been using my stitching software to piece together complete or near-complete shots of these trees, though that has introduced some interesting perspective distortion.
Julie and I pose in a cut through the California Tree. Fire had left a big hole, and in 1895 tour guides enlarged the hole, allowing a stage coach to drive through:
The Grizzly Giant, the second largest tree in the grove, and the 25th largest living sequoia (measured by volume):
The tram ride over, Julie and I rode the shuttle back to our cars at Wawona, and bid farewell. I drove back to Fresno, arriving several hours before my flight. The Fresno airport cutely incorporates a giant sequoia theme into its terminal:
I rode a turboprop from Fresno to San Francisco, and then rode a redeye flight to Cleveland from around 11:00 p.m. (Pacific time) to 6:30 a.m. (Eastern time). From there, I flew back to New York.