10 August, 2011

HONEYMOON - Day 5, Glacier Point

Today we ventured up to Glacier Point - a beautiful lookout point within Yosemite Valley. The elevation is about 7,200 feet (to give some perspective, the top of the Empire State Building is about 1,050 feet high... so, seven of those!) The views were spectacular, although a bit hazier than we would have liked.

That morning they were setting controlled fires in the park (to eliminate brush that could cause bigger, natural fires later) and there was a lot of smoke that rose up into the mountains. But even through the haze, you could tell how grand everything was. We got several great pictures of the Half Dome (that rock in the distance that looks like it was sliced in half) - and we could even see the tops of both giant waterfalls we hiked to only days before... they looked so small from up there!

It has been amazing to me, during our trips to the park, to recognize how truly easy it would be to take a few wrong steps and seriously hurt - or possibly even kill - yourself. There are walls build up around the edges that strongly suggest where you are allowed to stand... but there is usually an easy way around those walls and you could - if you wanted to - get to the edge of some pretty serious cliffs.

The park is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and for much of the time that we were hiking, we felt the freedom of being able to go anywhere we wanted. Yes, there's usually a well-marked path and trailheads to let you know how far it is from one point to another, but really - you could go pretty much anywhere you wanted.

I suppose that's how the 14 deaths this year in Yosemite came about (twice as many as their most recent highest death toll: 7 in 2007). It seems idealistic to take your family on a trip to one of our first National Parks. But knowing that one of this year's 14 deaths happened because a man simply slipped on the Mist Trail leading up to Vernal and Nevada Falls (the same trail we hiked, which I thought was definitely scary), and having seen parents holding the hands of toddlers just a bit older than our own daughter as they climbed several hundred rocky steps, wet from the mist of the waterfalls... let's just say I don't see a family vacation to Yosemite in our near future.

However, I would recommend this for a family-friendly activity: the Sugar Pine Railroad. We took an hour-long ride on the historic steam locomotive - heard a little bit of town history - and walked around the gift shop, book shop, and historical museum. Later that night, after a few hours reading and relaxing by the pool back at the B&B, we went to dinner at DiCicco's - a fine, but not great, local Italian restaurant. Looking forward to heading back to Yosemite tomorrow to catch the giant sequoias!

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