Yosemite National Park, California – July 8, 2010

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.

Interior, Curry Village Pavillion, Yosemite National Park, California

Curry Village Pavillion

 

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.

Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, California

Mariposa Grove

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.

Fallen Monarch, Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, California

The tram ride continues:

Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, California

Mariposa Grove

Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, California

Mariposa Grove

This is the Faithful Couple–two sequoias that grew close together, with their trunks eventually merging into one:

Faithful Couple, Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, California

Faithful Couple

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.

Clothespin Tree, Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, California

Clothespin Tree

A closer view:

Clothespin Tree, Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, California

Clothespin Tree

This is the Mariposa Tree:

Mariposa Tree, Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, California

Mariposa Tree

Here is the Fallen Tunnel Tree. It fell over during 1969:

Fallen Tunnel Tree, Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, California

Fallen Tunnel Tree

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.

Shattered sequoia tree, Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, California

Shattered sequoia tree

This is the Telescope Tree. Fire has burned a hole into which one can enter and look up and see the sky.

Telescope Tree, Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, California

Telescope Tree

A fallen and broken tree:

Fallen Sequoia Tree, Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, California

Fallen sequoia tree

I don’t think these close-growing trees have been named. At least I didn’t see a sign.

Close-growing sequoia trees, Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, California

Close-growing sequoia trees

More big trees beside a trail:

Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, California

Mariposa Grove

Julie poses in front of one of the giant sequoias:

Julie poses in front of giant sequoia, Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, California

Julie poses in front of giant sequoia

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 poses in front of giant sequoia, Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, California

Julie poses in front of giant sequoia

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:

Posing in front of California Tree, Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, California

Posing in front of California Tree

The Grizzly Giant, the second largest tree in the grove, and the 25th largest living sequoia (measured by volume):

Grizzly Giant, Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, California

Grizzly Giant

Giant sequoia theme, Fresno Airport, California

Giant sequoia theme at Fresno airport

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.

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