Natural Wonder: a weekend in Yosemite Valley

My husband (Mike) and I went on a little weekend trip to the Yosemite Valley. I had not been to Yosemite in quite a while, so I was excited for a weekend of awe-inspiring natural wonder. If you have not been to Yosemite, you might wonder, “Could the place live up to the descriptions?”

The answer is yes. Millions of people travel to Yosemite at large, and the valley specifically, every year. It can get pretty crowded in the summer—I once hiked up the very famous Half Dome, and was quite besides myself to see the sheer volume of people on that approximately 15 mile hike that starts at the valley floor and climbs more than 4,000 feet. So, yes, the volume of tourists can get in the way, but that still doesn’t ruin the views.

Winter is a pretty low season, so we were fighting the cold more than the crowds, but the sun shined on us both days, which made for two wonderful hikes and a lot of gaping at the enormous walls.

A chilly morning view from our campsite at Camp 4.

Mike photographing a prospective rock climb he would like to do. Yes, Mike is a rock climber, and Yosemite is one of his favorite places to climb. He spent most of the weekend studying the rock for future expeditions. We were on the Snow Creek Trail here, and behind him you can see the Quarter Domes.

A view of the valley, including the famous Half Dome (top right), from the trail going to Upper Yosemite Falls.

Upper Yosemite Falls. We stood watching for quite some time, as chunks of ice fell down the falls. You could feel the chill coming off the falls, even from this distance.

Here we are in front of Upper Yosemite Falls. The crooked-ness of the picture is due to the crooked-ness of the rock I set the camera upon. Nature is the best artist.

I learned from reading a little book about Yosemite that the valley was called “Ahwahnee” by the natives (a division of the Southern Miwok) who lived there before Europeans took over. Ahwahnee means “valley that looks like a gaping mouth.” This could not be more correct—both as a description of the valley and a description of the bystander looking at the valley. There is a very luxurious hotel in the valley that is named the “Ahwahnee.” It’s very plush and was finished in 1927 to cater to the wealthy visitors to the valley.

I was also curious to know what the word “Yosemite” meant. In looking it up, I found that the word has a much less awe-inspiring background. It means something along the lines of “those who kill,” and is how other tribes referred to the tribe living in the Yosemite Valley, as they were thought to be extremely violent. They referred to themselves as the “Ahwahneechee” which basically means dwellers in the Ahwahnee.

It felt good to get out there and have a new adventure and breathe the fresh air. Sometimes it’s easy to get into a pattern of sameness. Have you been on any adventures (large or small) lately?

[I got my very brief historical and etymological info from Yosemite: A Guide to Yosemite National Park California, put out by the National Park Service, and this website about Yosemite]

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2 Responses to “Natural Wonder: a weekend in Yosemite Valley”


  1. 1 Mike McLaren February 1, 2010 at 11:39 pm

    Yosemite is awesome. I love visiting during the winter more than during hotter months. The mists around the waterfalls and El Capitan… oh such beauty.

  2. 2 paula February 2, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    wow, this looks gorgeous!


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Hello there! My name is Nicole K. Docimo, and I am an artist and writer from the U.S.A. but currently residing in Zurich, Switzerand. Thank you for visiting my blog!

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