The many wonders of Yosemite Valley

It was the perfect Sunday hike.

Instead of starting with the sun, we met in Fresno at 10 a.m. We took our time driving to the gates of Yosemite National Park, and chose to hike in Mariposa Grove, near the entrance of the park, rather than continuing another hour or so into Yosemite Valley.

We began the Mariposa Outer Loop Trail under clear blue skies, and quickly removed our jackets. As we tromped along the path, under trees whose leaves had turned brilliant reds and yellows, we chatted about everyday topics – work, relationships, what we had concocted recently in the kitchen.

But our thoughts would switch from mundane to wonder in an instant – at the sight of a ferret, who watched us as we sat on logs and built gourmet turkey, cheese and pesto sandwiches, or at the glimpse of a munching chipmunk perched on a rock, or a squirrel with a spotted tail. Or at the scent of maple, wafting from trees.

And definitely while experiencing the magic of the Telescope Tree – a completely hollow, giant Sequoia tree that you can stand inside. Then you look up, and from within the tree, you, can see the sky.

We hiked the 6-mile loop in about three hours, and were returning to the parking lot when I saw a sight that truly made me stop in my tracks. My friends were studying a grove of horsetail, but I was examining a fellow park visitor.

Could those be the members of Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears, a funky blues band we’d seen perform at Fresno’s Fulton 55 the night before? It was!

“Hey, Black Joe Lewis!” my friend called out, before striking up a conversation with the band members. Turns out they were on their way to San Francisco to play at the Fillmore the next night. But we recommended that they first make it to Tunnel View – a majestic viewpoint on the way into Yosemite Valley. They, too, it seems, were in the mood for some wonder.

 Photo: Taken by me, at Glacier Point, during a reporting trip in Yosemite

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