The last light of day reflected in a vibrant red on the north side of Half Dome. Bliss
Yosemite is the third most visited national park in the United States with almost 4 million guests in 2012, and right now it’s closed. I was lucky to visit before the government shutdown temporarily shuttered this national treasure.
Fortunately, it won’t stay closed long as a deal in the Senate appears to be on the verge of reopening the government and national parks along with it.
Late last month I took a 3-day backpacking trip, lead by Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides, to the park. This was my third time to California and first time to Yosemite. In the short time I was there, I became convinced that there can’t be many other places on earth that pack in even half of the jaw-dropping views I saw while hiking the North Rim Trail.
With trees that seem to touch the clouds and an endless jigsaw of granite monoliths, the 22-mile loop is one idyllic panorama. Add to this an endless potential of camping locations and the North Rim Trail hike easily takes the cake as my favorite weekend-sized adventure.
I hope the gates are soon lifted to this and many other national treasures. Until then, enjoy some photos of one of the most beautiful places on earth. —Amy Oberbroeckling
One of the most photographed vistas of all time, the “Tunnel Shot”
We mapped out our route before setting off. “We’re going to camp right across from Half Dome. Get ready for the best sunset of your life,” our guide, Colby Brokvist, said. Photo by; John Lloyd
Our hike started with some exploration of the valley. Long grasses seemed to glow under the fall sun
Upwards and onwards. The first day was a 4-mile hike with 3,000 feet of elevation gain. A respectable warmup. Photo by; John Lloyd
A first peak at Half Dome as we continued to hike up towards the rim
Blending in with vibrantly green lichen
Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides provided us with delicious trail-side lunches to keep us fueled along the hike
A late season visit to the park meant that the creeks and falls had stopped running. I took this as an opportunity to cool off after a long day on the trail
As we hiked up, the verdant valley below became dwarfed by the giant monoliths
Endless bouldering problems peppered the trail. Photo by; John Lloyd
We continued along the trail through a forest of wizened pine trees. Photo by; John Lloyd
The trees produced some of the largest pinecones I have ever seen
On our last night we camped right in front of Half Dome. One of most beautiful places I’ve ever slept
As the sun dropped, so did the temperature. We soaked in every last bit of sunlight
At night, the stars crammed the sky. Photo by;John Lloyd
The next morning we began our descent down the rocky trail into the valley
Back in the valley. The trees just starting to turn their autumnal colors. Photo by; Drew Simmons
One last bouldering problem on the bridge over the Merced River in Yosemite Valley