WAWONA – We surprised ourselves this morning by getting up and out of the house by 8:10 a.m., only ten minutes later than we’d expected, which isn’t bad considering today’s mix was two parents, two teens, and a 90 lb. chocolate lab.
Setting off from Coarsegold we took a leisurely drive north on Highway 41 up to Yosemite National Park, and once again, congratulated ourselves for living so close so such a special place.
We flashed our annual pass at the nice Ranger who greeted us at one of the cool new kiosks, then turned left and drove to Wawona.
Earlier we’d decided to walk the Wawona Meadow trail, a 3.5 mile partly paved loop that follows along where meadow meets forest. Ecologists call that edge the “ecotone,” and the walk is both beautiful and nicely shaded in the morning.
Running into Forest Service archeologist Adam Crowther, we were instantly reminded that The Redwoods in Yosemite offers guided walks here and elsewhere on Fridays and Sundays in summer. The roughly 2-hour walk, which gains only 200 ft. in elevation, gives those who go a nice long look into the past and a perspective on the landscape, including flora, fauna, artifact and relic, that’s really worth the trip.
This time, we were on our own, because we’d brought our dog, Jack. This is one of only three places in Yosemite that I’ve heard you can take a dog, and it’s the closest to home. The dog must be on a 6′ maximum leash and needs to be cleaned up after, which is more than I can say for the horses and mules that have left their mark on the trail.
Today was one of those fortunate days where you see and smell everything the forest has to offer. Repeatedly, I sniffed the air, identifying the various smells as the woods warmed up. We were reminded with every step how lucky we are to live in in a gateway community close to Yosemite.
My sharp-eyed husband spotted a doe and then two fawns, who ran out of the bushes. Deer-sightings never fail to excite us no matter how many times we see wildlife of any sort. Same goes for the dog, who was concentrating so hard just to maintain on his leash that he didn’t notice the deer, thank goodness. We watched a hawk who perched precisely long enough for me to fumble with my camera and raise it to my eye before it flapped away to another tree, laughing at my inexpertise.
Our daughter and her friend, aka “the teens,” took Jack most of the way. He started out completely beside himself with joy and would up tuckered out and pleasantly relaxed, though quite dusty. The girls got way ahead of us, walking faster and being propelled in part by Jack. They went to the end, then doubled back some way and waiting for us to catch up.
I took a number of photographs and the ones that turned out best were those I snapped quickly, without being able to see in the view finder, due to an abundance of sunlight and the fact that I am no photographer, at all.
We encountered a group of horses and mules complete with riders, evidently from the stables nearby. The riders looked happy plodding along, as they should: it was a gorgeous day in the forest.
Soon the blue skies of morning darkened even as we walked, and by the end of our loop the clouds were somewhat threatening. Driving home, we stopped at Fish Camp for a can of Arnold Palmer (Dave saw the 9-hole course that’s adjacent to the Wawona Hotel and suddenly remembered golf).
Lightning crackled in the sky behind us as we drove home down 41, after our lovely Sunday morning walk. Out by 8:10 and back by 11:30 a.m.-ish. Happy dog.
We hope your day is lovely, too.