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Leaf Peeping in Yosemite Valley

We couldn’t wait to get up to Yosemite Valley right after the last storm. We needed to check out the fall colors, reflections in the Merced River, those waterfalls and snow covered trees on the rim.  Plus, you never know what special surprise will be in store for us on our adventures.

Difficulty: Easy

Elevational Range: 3,880′ to 4,960′

Date: November 4, 2015

We headed up Highway 41 through the Wawona Entrance to Yosemite National Park and there was a good reason that we went this way. We wanted to make a morning stop at Tunnel View to see if Half Dome was wearing some white from the recent snow. It sure was!

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Tunnel View of Half Dome with Fresh Snow

We slowly drove along the southern loop, stopping to walk down along the Merced River to check out the reflections. P1150630 (2)r P1150601 (2)rP1150614r







Even the ice along the edges and puddles had reflections.








We looked up at the rim along the valley and the trees were frosted with the fresh snow.


Fresh Snowy Trees (Photo by Gail Gilbert)


Snow Covered Trees on the Valley Rim (Photo by Gail Gilbert)


Fresh Snow Along the Rim (Photo by Gail Gilbert)









We continued on with our hunt for reflections and color up the river.


Autumn Fern (Photo by Debra Sutherland)








I was busy taking pictures of those reflections in the river and sometimes forgot to look up. P1150593r

We headed for a calm area in the river with beautiful reflections of El Capitan.


Reflection of El Capitan (Photo by Debra Sutherland)

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We stopped at the swinging bridge to check out those classic views of Yosemite Falls, some reflected in the river.


Yosemite Falls Reflection in the Merced River


Yosemite Falls











Our next stop was at the Yosemite Valley Chapel. The Big-Leaf Maples were so yellow!

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We took a short walk along the trail behind the Chapel.











It was still pretty chilly out and the Chapel area was in the sun. It was a great spot to pull up a rock and eat our lunch. I brought a little treat to share with my hiking buddies. I knew that they like chocolate, so how could this special protein bar not be a hit with them? I asked them if they had heard of EXO bars and they hadn’t, so I explained to them that it was a new high protein bar. They all took a small bite. One said it wasn’t bad. I then shared with them that it was made from Cricket Flour. My other hiking buddy then said that it wasn’t THAT good. No one wanted anymore of it and I finished it for desert that night after I got home.

I didn’t realize it at the time but after I got home to research this blog, I learned that there are an average of 40 crickets in each bar and 5 crickets in each bite. Crickets are a complete protein, containing all amino acids. They contain more than 2 times the iron than spinach.  Crickets produce 100 times less greenhouse gases and require less water to raise than cows. The company slogan is “Crickets are the new Kale.” I didn’t think the EXO Bar was that bad. It was edible. It was chocolate.
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We headed over to Curry Village, where the dogwoods weren’t quite turning yet. The Half Dome view was still very nice though.


Half Dome From Curry Village (Photo by Debra Sutherland)

The next stop was the Ahwahnee Hotel. As we strolled long the paths in the back, some of the dogwoods were definitely turning their fall red.

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I was looking around for photo opportunities and there was Gail, taking it easy on a sunny bench. How much better does it get? P1150705 (2)r We wandered around to the front of the Ahwahnee Hotel to check out the pond. Sometimes there are beautiful reflections in it and there were. There was a critter swimming in it and we tried to get a picture of it but it was too fast for us. It continued small dives in the pond until it worked its way to the edge, still busily hunting for some sort of bugs. Our surprise for the day was a Water-Ouzel , also known as an American Dipper. “Among all the mountain birds, none has cheered me so much in my lonely wanderings–none so unfailingly.”  Those are John Muir’s words from The Mountains of California. It was very special that we had the treat of seeing this much loved bird and we sure didn’t have to go to some remote, hard to reach place to see it.

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As we continued our loop, we had a great view of Bridalveil Falls. It was very nice to see those falls falling again.


Bridalveil Falls

We made another stop when Deb spotted some golden colors down by the river.


Fall Colors Along the Merced River (Photo by Debra Sutherland)

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We were losing daylight but still wanted to make a stop at the Gates of Yosemite.


We crossed over the Pohono Bridge, parking at Fern Springs. It is always beautiful to see the yellow leaves floating over the levels of this spring. What a surprise to see that Fern Springs was all dried up. That was incredible and we had never seen this happen.


We took a quick walk down to the river to try and get some pictures near the bridge, then headed back to the car and home. It was another absolutely wonderful day in Yosemite National Park!



The Mountains of California by John Muir



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