“The religious challenge of this age is to those farseeing and forward-looking men and women of spiritual insight who will dare to construct a new and appealing philosophy of living out of the enlarged and exquisitely integrated modern concepts of cosmic truth, universe beauty, and divine goodness. Such a new and righteous vision of morality will attract all that is good in the mind of man and challenge that which is best in the human soul. Truth, beauty, and goodness are divine realities, and as man ascends the scale of spiritual living, these supreme qualities of the Eternal become increasingly coordinated and unified in God, who is love.” The Urantia Book (43.3) (2:7.10)
This is the view that is generally seen when Yosemite Valley is shown; it is almost iconic. The area looks pristine from this vantage point, as if it were untouched by humanity. Ha! The overlook was crowded with tour busses, our tram, all sorts of SUVs and cars, as well as humanity from all over the earth. The road through the valley certainly is well traveled; our tour guide said Yosemite is nearly being loved to death. And it is certainly a space to be loved. President Lincoln and Congress took time out from the Civil War in 1864 to set this land aside for protection; this is the first time any land had been so protected.
We had boarded our tram at the visitor center; the tram was basically a flatbed trailer with benches for seating that was pulled by a full sized tractor; they needed a really big diesel to pull all our weight up the mountain. There was also a high seat for a local guide who gave a running commentary. The views are truly breathtaking. Even though the park covers 1,189 sq. mi. the vast majority of guests only see the seven square miles of Yosemite Valley. The weather was perfect and the ride offered wondrous sights. Soon we saw the granite monolith called El Capitan, which is on the left side of the above photo; someone with binoculars saw climbers halfway up the steep rock face and sure enough when I used the telephoto lens I obtained a good picture of them. I understand it takes two days to make the climb. I hope there are no sleepwalkers amongst the climbers! Personally I prefer to keep my feet well grounded. The tram then stopped at a meadow where we had a good view of Bridal Veil Falls. We next chugged up the mountain to Tunnel Overlook where I took the above picture. After we completed our tour of the valley I grabbed a quick sandwich and hiked to the base of Yosemite Falls and a bit beyond.
Mariposa Grove Meadow
We boarded our own bus for the drive to the Mariposa Grove; actually we had to take a shuttle for the final section. At the grove we boarded another tram, similar to the first, for our tour of the grove. This is the home of the giant Sequoia trees, which are some of the largest living things on earth; while the Redwoods in California may be taller the Sequoias are more massive. This meadow was such a peaceful space I couldn’t resist taking several pictures. It would be lovely to sit at the base of one of these giants for a while to soak in the sight, to fully appreciate this place.
This is one of the largest trees in the park with a volume estimated to be 34,010 cubic feet and is thought to be about 1,800 years old. The limb sticking out to the left near the top of the picture is about seven feet in diameter. That is some tree! Nearby is a tree that had a tunnel cut through it so you can walk through a living tree. These trees have a shallow root system, one had fallen over and the roots were not at all impressive. The cones of these trees are surprisingly small, about the size of a chicken egg. Since I was with the tour there was little time for independent investigation, but it would be truly wonderful to arrive here in the early morning before all the tourists arrive, to walk and meditate amongst these mighty trees.
Butterfly at Tuolumne Meadows
Tuolumne Meadows is a sub-alpine meadow where we had an opportunity to explore a bit; the above butterfly was not much bigger than my thumbnail. I also got a picture of a marmot, a prairie dog like animal as well as hikers who had climbed a nearby mound of rock. The final stop along the way was at Mono Lake for lunch. Near the lakeshore Sea Gulls were feeding on Brine Shrimp, which are about a third of an inch long. Our naturalist caught some in a bag and I was able to get a decent picture of them.