Getting to California and its famed Yosemite National Park, had been on mind since the mid 1990s. I remember seeing a picture of a very dear friend standing next to a Giant Sequoia tree looking pint-sized and knew I had to meet with one of earth’s time traveled inhabitants. These amazing trees can grow as high as 300 ft with a spread of 25 to 60 feet, dwarfing even the tallest human. So just a few years back when I traveled to the US for the very first time, I made California a must visit place. I was in the country on work but managed to steal a couple of weeks, to travel Westwards. And all I wanted to do was taste wine in Napa, live in the midst of nature & enjoy the Christmas celebrations in San Francisco first hand. I wasn’t let down, except on the day when I decided to visit Yosemite.
UNFINISHED YOSEMITE TALE
Well I now have another excuse to visit this pretty state. Because some stories are waiting to be completed. We were 6 of us in a van that sputtered more often than it should have & while most muttered about its less than perfect condition, I was totally oblivious to the disappointment that was to come. I love nature because she always springs something new on me. In my soon to follow post, I will tell you about Kalpa in India and the surprise that left me stranded. But back to not so sunny California in the white season of Christmas. Timing as we all know is everything. And I was clearly there at the wrong time.
In the morning when we set out from San Francisco city center, it seemed clear & beautiful. But under just an hour the road to the park started slowly getting wet, with snow fall starting to kiss the earth. I am a Mumbai girl & I know rainfall and floods better than many other city dwellers. In fact, I can just look at the clouds & the rains as they begin their shower and gauge more or less their mood. What I mean is I can gather whether it will stop in a few minutes, get all daring and lash out for many hours or quickly get me knee deep. But with snow fall of course, I am a novice.
I know I am sounding dramatic, but this story just because I waited so long, left me with an emotional frostbite. Simply because the icy winds that were colder & crueler than the White witch from The Chronicles of Narnia, were in reality a sign of the roads covered with sheets and sheets of snow. Piled up. And just as we started to enter the park, the van we were in that suddenly seemed to be from another era, stalled. So to make the most of an ‘almost there’ destination we simply made the camera our best mate. I promised myself the next time it would be the bright & chirpy season of May that would welcome me. It is still on my wish list, but I read that the Giant Sequoias live atleast 3000 years. So I have lots more time.
Let me not be ungrateful though. Once my lens picked up the landscape bathed in dazzling white, it just seemed magical. Surreal. Don’t you agree!
(All I got was this long shot of a climbers’ delight, El Capitan. The Spanish name for the original Native American one meaning ‘ The Chief’ or ‘Rock Chief’, it stands at 3000 ft (900m) and is a capture from the Tunnel View en route to the park)
SEEING THE GIANT SEQUOIAS AT YOSEMITE
Perfect Time to visit: Spring until fall season (Try and avoid the unpredictable winters)
Where they can be seen: In 3 groves. Most easily accessible & the largest one is the Mariposa Grove. Then there are Tuolumne & Merced Groves, not visited much
Reaching the groves: To reach the Mariposa Grove, drive in from the South Entrance of the park till the parking lot & then take the free bus shuttle. For the other two groves, the only option is hiking about 3 miles before you can reach the trees
Star Performer: Tree called Grizzly Giant, that’s almost 2000 years old and standing tall at 200 ft.
Am sure landscapes & nature’s amazing display are a treat for your eyes too. I try to capture much of that when I hit the road, so you can catch some of these sights on my Instagram feed @pebblewalks . Do drop by and enjoy the show.