Travels with Tucker

Travels with Tucker

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A hike and a sunset

Our plan for the day sounded promising:  drive up to Glacier Point, have lunch at the viewpoint, do a moderate hike, have dinner at the point, watch the sunset and wait till the stars come out to see them in dark sky glory.  We ALMOST did it all.

The drive up to Glacier Point was uneventful, but when we reached the top we were amazed at the crowds.  We had to wait a bit for a parking space and the nearest viewpoint was packed with tourists, all furiously taking pictures.  We speculated that there must be hundreds of thousands of pictures taken of the view at Glacier Point—too bad Kodak isn’t still in the film business!  There was one rock that must be nicknamed “picture rock” because it was constantly in use by posers.  This rock is about 12 feet tall and stands right in front of the fabulous view of Half Dome, but not so close to the edge that it felt dangerous.  We saw people balancing on top, seated in a portrait studio pose, pushing up like they were holding it, but the best of all was a middle-aged couple that thought it would be great to each individually lie down on their stomach hugging the rock with their butt in the air facing the camera.  I can hear them next week reviewing those shots and wondering “why did we think those would be good pictures??!”

After a quick lunch, we tucked Tucker into the truck to sleep and we hauled out on the Panorama Trail. Though the trail goes all the way to Nevada Fall and down to the valley (8+ miles), we were just going to hike to Illilouette Falls, then a mile or so up to Panorama Point, then back—2,000 vertical feet and about 8 miles round trip. It turned out to be a fabulous hike, with great views of Vernal and Nevada Falls, a bridge over fast-rushing Illilouette Creek just above the falls and another great view of Yosemite Falls from the point. It is amazing to me that for all the tourists flocking to Glacier Point, we saw maybe 10 people during the whole four hours of hiking, and most of these seemed to be European visitors.  If the park had a “drive-through” vista point, I’m sure half the people would use it and never get out of their cars!

We got back to the truck, let Tucker out of jail, grabbed all our clothes and dinner stuff and trudged off to the very tip of Glacier Point.  From up here we could see the valley spread out 3,000 feet below and up Yosemite valley past Half Dome and out to the snow-capped rim of the world across to the east.  As we waited for sunset with several other die-hards, many with camera tripods waiting for the sunset light on Half Dome, we felt the cold set in (we were at 7,200 feet).  We drank our ice-cold beer and ate our cold tuna wraps.  By the time the sun set (which was beautiful but not spectacular, there being no clouds to give us the fiery light) we were frozen to the bone.  We gathered our stuff, trudged back to the truck and settled in with the engine idling and the seat heaters on high to wait for darkness.  After 20 minutes of this, we decided a warm trailer trumped the stars and headed home, having accomplished 4/5 of what we set out to do.  Seeing the stars from Glacier Point would have to wait for another attempt, but the day was a big success anyway.
Sunset light on Half Dome from Glacier Point

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