Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Trail to Mirror Lake (Yosemite Valley), 5/08/2016

The easiest way to hike to Mirror Lake is by taking the free Yosemite Shuttle to stop #17. But because we wanted to take our doggy, Sadie (and she is not allowed on the shuttle) a park ranger advised us to park at the Majestic Yosemite Hotel (not always easy to find a parking spot there), and take the trail behind the hotel to the bike path that leads to the lake. After circling the lot a few times, we saw someone leaving and pulled into their spot.

The Majestic Yosemite Hotel (previously named The Ahwahnee) is an up-scale hotel with fine dining. Rooms start at $426/night. Those who ran the park understood that to ensure protection of the land for future generations, they would need to cater to the rich and famous. The hotel cost $1.5M to build and opened in July of 1927. It has, indeed, host kings, queens, presidents, prime ministers, and celebrities over the years. During World War II, it was converted to a Navy convalescent hospital and housed 850 for a time. Today it is the epitome of historic elegance. 

From the bike trail near the hotel you can see Yosemite Falls and the rock formation called, Royal Arches

A huge rockfall 300-400 years ago dumped boulders across the canyon damming the Tenayo Creek in the spring. 

Two pools were created on either side. Below is a photo of the lower pool

And the upper pool is beautiful Mirror Lake. Both pools fill in the spring from a seasonal creek, but may be dry by the end of summer. Below are views of Ahwiyah Point (granite peak on the right) from the lake.

Below is a view of Mt. Watkins. The cliffs are a prime nesting spot for peregrine falcons and spotted bats (both endangered species in the park). The falcons feed on the swifts and swallows that feed on insects from the pools. 

I loved this view of a lichen-covered granite boulder at the lake. 

In the 1870s, a toll road was built to Mirror Lake with a hotel, saloon, and even a dance floor over the water. All of that development has long since been removed and replaced with an ongoing effort to preserve the natural resources here.

Not exactly sure what inspired this "field" of rock cairns atop granite boulders near the lake (other than the sheer beauty of this park), but they looked really cool!

On our hike back to the hotel, we were thrilled to encounter this young black bear (although his coat is very light). At Groveland Museum we learned that black bears have diverse coats ranging from black to blonde to cinnamon.  

The Pacific Dogwoods are in bloom all over Yosemite. These blossoms are so much larger than those that grow on the East Coast (although I have not seen any pink ones here). 

The round trip hike from the hotel to Mirror Lake was about 4 miles. It is an easy walk along the paved bike trail. Loved it! For additional information fun hikes in Yosemite, check out their website or seek some advice from a park ranger in one of the Visitor Centers

On our way out of the park today, we stopped at an overlook to embrace this amazing view of Yosemite Valley.


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