Saturday, June 21, 2008

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park ( pronounced "yo-se-mi-tee" ) is an Internationally Recognised Park and designated as a World Heritage Site in 1984. Well known for its spectacular granite cliffs, amazing waterfalls, clear gushing streams and ancient giant sequoia trees, this National Park sees over 3.5 million visitors through out the seasons of the year. Like Malaysia's National Park, Yosemite has centuries old trees and biological as well as geological treasures. I have read about and watched quite a few National Geographic episodes, - once upon a time - about those BIG, HUGE trees ( Sequoia, I think ) that could even allow vehicles to pass through them. So, I was on a mission to find those trees! We entered Yosemite National Park through the West Gate since Yosemite View Lodge is just before the entrance. It is quite difficult to get lodging during this time of year since visitors to this area make reservations 6 months ahead of time. We were lucky someone cancelled and made a river-view room available. Or else.. there are many camping sites we could set up tent but it wouldn't be fun with just the 5 of us. I remember around this time last year when we camped at New Hampshire with friends on the East Coast: The family and friends of Laila-Bill & her sister Lina-Dave, Tini & Sabri as well as Isma & Nizam. Every year in July Laila arranges camping activity for her friends, her children and their friends. I cannot forget the tons of food & equipment that she brings along! Terbayang-bayang Laila membakar apam balik, Lina mengipas sate.. Bila time nak balik, habis semua her love ones kena kerah untuk mengemas.. termasuk anak2 'mat salleh' ( her children's friends ) yang ikut sekali. Dengar cakap pulak tuu! Tini & Sabri have gone back to Malaysia. Tini is making her PHD and her experience as a lecturer in Northeastern University, Boston to good use in UKM. Shazmi - her 10 year old - yang bijak tu, I hear masih ber-slang American.. :-) Hassan - the 3 year old - dah besar and mula pandai mengusik his brother. Miss them ! Isma & Nizam came to visit us last week. Nizam has to be in California for a month implementing Nokia's billion dollar project with T-Mobile. Isma & their 10 year old Sara yang paling untung 'sambil menyelam minum air' - they have visited plenty of places in the US. The 20 dollars entrance fee to Yosemite is valid for 7 days - makna nya we can enter as many times as we like within the week. The one-way road circles inside the area, making driving easy without us looking out for on-coming cars. Certain parts the road can get very narrow - like the picture on the left above - which supports only one car each time to tunnel through the granite hill ! The sound of the gushing waters beating against rocks & boulders in the wide river could be heard rushing downstream on to our right. Somehow we could feel the serenity of the park which urged us on to find a good spot to picnic. Banyak picnic spots.. teringat pulak air terjun yang di beri nama Lata something, something di Sungai Seputih, Selama Perak - a few miles after passing my parents house there. During my younger days, we used to see a lot of visitors/ picnic-ers, passing through to go to the air terjun and berkelah. We could see more cars, motorbikes and sometimes busloads of children, kalau cuti sekolah. You'ld know they were going there to mandi-manda & berkelah by the looks of 'striped' towels hanging from the bus windows and also pelampung-pelampung tayar sticking out too! Picture on the right above is a distant view of the Yosemite Falls - Upper & Lower Falls. Every angle at the National Park looks like scenic views in a calendar or postcard ! There are many waterfalls there and visitors have to hike to some of them in order to get a better view. Bridal-Veil Falls on the right - the hike was not too bad though! At that height, we could feel the cool mist spraying all around. Much welcomed in the scorching heat of the day. One could also experience exploring Yosemite by bike, by raft, on an open-air tram or even on a mule or horseback ! Of course, if you go on foot it won't cost you a thing. If you really look at the rock formations, the waterfalls and the scenic views of the national park, you can't help feeling the wonders and blessings of God's gift. Allah pencipta alam... Geologically speaking pulak - about 10 million years ago, the Sierra Nevada ( range of mountains ) was uplifted... and then tilted to form its relatively gentle and dramatic slopes. The uplift increased the steepness of stream and river beds, resulting in formation of deep, narrow canyons. About 1 million years ago, snow and ice accumulated, forming glaciers at the higher alpine meadows that moved down the river valleys. Ice thickness in Yosemite Valley may have reached 4,000 feet (1200 m) during the early glacial episode. The downslope movement of the ice masses cut and sculpted the U-shaped valley that attracts so many visitors to its scenic landscape today. Located near Yosemite's South Entrance, the Mariposa Grove is the park's largest collection of giant sequoias. We had to park our car at Wawona Store parking area - 30 minutes away - and took a shuttle into Mariposa Grove as the access road to the grove closes intermittently due to limited parking inside. Using this free bus shuttle is encouraged to reduce congestion and parking delays. They want to control the number of cars inside so as not to disturb the condition of the ancient trees. I read somewhere that these trees can grow until 3000 years. The bigger they get, the older they are. Their roots grow very shallow - less than 6 feet ! Very strange I thought of HUGE trees like them. They can even tumble if their roots frequently get trodden upon, nevertheless once fallen they will not rot ( tak reput ! ). It makes sense not to allow cars beyond the grove parking lot. Trailers and private cars longer than 25 feet are prohibited even to enter the gates of Mariposa Grove. It means that we have to either go jungle tracking on foot or take the guided tour on an open-air tram that circles the designated routes inside Mariposa Grove, - costing 16 dollars each ! To save cost, I designated the job of searching for my tunnel tree to my kids during their one and half hour ride on the tram while both of us went back to Wawona Store to get our car. Apparently the sort of tree that I was looking for - Wawona Tunnel Tree - fell during the harsh winters of 1968 & 1969. Between 1881 - 1968, when it was carved, millions of people flocked here to drive through the tree - first in buggies eventually in cars. The other tunnel tree is the California Tree carved in 1895. Despite the huge hole in its trunk and weakened condition, the California Tree is alive and growing. With on-going research on trees and habitat done to this date, damage such as this would not be allowed to occur today. However, both tunnel trees helped to promote Mariposa Grove and has contributed to its inclusion into Yosemite National Park. Itu la some information gathered by my kids... Picture on the left is the Fallen Monarch. Notice the diameter of the roots relative to the height of the couple... Pokok ni tak der akar tunjang, tu sebab senang tumbang... Too bad the tram didn't stop for them to take more pictures.

One of the giant cones...

Yosemite View Lodge is worth staying ... There are also quite a number of pools & indoor spas in this facility. Ideal for those with small children. Honeymoon-ers pulak would love the view !

Just nice for the 5 of us... anak bujang tidur dalam sleeping bag kat bawah

Equiped with wide screen TV, fireplace, mini fridge, and a small kitchenette - 2 stove burner and a sink. There is a microwave hidden in the cabinet. Provided also are cutlery as well as pots & pans - which are not of much use to me. Kita bawa our own plastic utensils.. one small pot for heating the gravy... and of course the rice cooker is a must! Boss I cannot do without nasi lah...:-)

View of the river from the balcony outside our room... Too bad the rest of my San Jose friends cannot make it this time around. Being here for several years, they have been to Yosemite many-many times. I think the best time to visit this place of Allah's creation would be in Fall/Autumn or in Spring when it'll be a lot cooler. Winter would be beautiful but it'll be much too cold !

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