If you've never been to Wawona, it is near the South Gate of Yosemite National Park.
If you click on the map, you can see a blown up view of the map where to the right and up of Wawona Information Station is the Chilnualna Falls River. The Chilnualna Trail is literally my backyard trail, and so far, I've hiked this 9 mi roundtrip hike twice since I've been here. It is a relatively steep, switch back, uphill trail 4 1/2 miles up and 4 1/2 miles back down. The surroundings vary as you travel upward from forest, to river bank, back to forest and finally to rocky terrain. I felt like I was on some quest like in The Neverending Story especially when I reached the rock staircase up to the Upper Falls. I accidentally deleted the picture capturing the part of the falls that just dumps over maybe a 100 ft. drop. Just a short hike up, you'll come to this stair step waterfall.
Like all the waterfalls in Yosemite, the Chilnualna Falls pours down and over the rocks with purpose. The current is very strong right now as the snow is only just beginning to melt.
The Lower Falls are just beautiful and feeling the cool mist on your face is the perfect way to finish a hike.
So that was this past Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday, SNRI (Sierra Nevada Research Institute) held an open house to talk about what happens here in the sumemer. Eric Berlow, the director, gave a small presentation and some of the students gave short presentations. My art was displayed and it was just so awesome to meet other participants and staff. I enjoyed it so much. Thayer was there and I was so happy that he also got to see all that is going on here and meet those people who make it happen.
After that we explored the river and hiked in to the Hanging Bridge off of Forest Road near Wawona Hotel.
The next day, we hiked from Mono Meadows near the Valley up to Sentinel Dome. That hike was spectacular. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.
So many lizards, butterflies, birds, squirrels, chipmunks scurry around you and force you to stay alert.
THAYER AT THE TOP OF SENTINEL DOME
I love this picture. I love how it captures a feeling of comfort as you rest against a rock and marvel at where you are. I feel like we've all been there before in some way.
On the 4th of July, we went to the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees. It was so fun to walk around and identify the main trees that grow here:
The Giant Sequoia
Below are some pictures of me standing in between what looks like two trees but is actually just a burnt out cavity of a single tree that is in the shape of a clothespin. In fact, the park has named it the Clothespin Tree. It's crazy when you realize how small people are next to these trees that are hundreds and hundreds of years old. The oldest known sequoia is about 3,500 years old!
Today, I've started a drawing from my porch of an Incense Cedar and a Ponderosa Pine. A couple little factoids about these trees. Most #2 pencils are made from this wood because it is soft and sharpens easily without splintering. The Ponderosa Pine is also called the Bull Pine, Blackjack Pine or Western Yellow Pine.
Tomorrow I'll be joining park botanist, Liz Bellanger on a day trip to the Tuolumne Meadows to look at the vegetation. This will be my first day out in the field and I absolutely can't wait! Like I said, there is so much more than I could have ever hoped in this place. What an honor...