We awoke to the most glorious spring morning that ever dawned in the town of Merced, just 70 miles from Yosemite Valley. I have oft marvelled at how I could have lived in California for more than 20 years, just four hours' drive away and had never visited it. But perhaps I was wise to wait for this very day.
A pastoral drive along Highway 140 took us up a gentle grade that leads straight to El Portal, a vertical granite rockface that rises nearly 2000 feet into the rarefied air above the Sierra Nevada. And from there on, around every curve, the geography and geology becomes more spectacular, magnificent, stunning, breathtaking, awesome... [I'm already running out of inadequate adjectives to describe it].
Yesterday's snowfall was still glistening pristine in the crisp mountain air, while the rays of the sun overhead warmed the snow-capped peaks to feed the cascading deluge of Bridal Veil and Yosemite Falls. We snapped untold quantities of digital photos and shot endless video footage of peak after lofty peak. And at every turn, I couldn't help thinking that Mother Nature wasn't fooling around when she wrought this piece of heaven on earth.
Toward the end of our tour of the valley, we discovered an alluring footpath, upon which a 15-minute walk through a lush and chilly Sequoia grove brought us right to the base of Yosemite Falls. In that moment, gazing up at all that water, plummeting down that sheer granite gorge, we filled our lungs with the ionized air, and renewed our spirits with the energy and the experience of standing on one of the most hallowed places on earth.