Blondie’s Reflections in Mirror Lake – Yosemite National Park June 2016
This past summer I took a break from the book writing and marketing journey and took my family on on another adventure of a lifetime exploring five national parks. Here is quick story about the first day we went to Yosemite National Park. If you'd like to keep up to date with my book journey follow my free newsletter full of updates and freebies here.
Late June, 2016
The mountain air was dry and crisp as we packed the car with our picnic. My husband, three kids, mother-in-law, sister- in-law, and I had been eager to explore another of our magnificent national parks. A few years ago we explored the wonders of Yellowstone together and had been truly a magical experience. See my two blogs here and here on that amazing trip. Okay, that is partly a lie. Six of us were giddy with excitement. My son was being dragged along for the experience. What he really wanted to do was stay in the cool, bug-free basement of the cabin we’d rented just outside of Yosemite and alternate studying science and playing games with his friends online.
We had jackets just in case the weather app lied again. A few days prior it promised cool temps at Sequoia National Park, but was a big fat lie. It was 90 degrees and we managed to hike with jeans carrying our jackets and sweating profusely. This time we wore shorts and tank tops expecting the heat despite the promised high of 62. In Yosemite Valley, a cartoon of a blazing sun and 97 degrees posted on the information center board told us what we had in store. We jumped on the shuttle to Mirror Lake Trail that was only two miles, just about the right length for Shorty to not completely suffer, with the added bonus of a cool lake at the midpoint to cool off.
The bus had standing room only but that wasn’t so bad until the second stop where a sardine can-esque scenario ensued. Poor little Shorty was smashed in the front with me. To our chagrin, an enormous man got on the bus squeezing in the last possible space right between us. It wasn’t too bad until he lifted his arm to hold onto the railing on the ceiling giving me a front and center view of something that still haunts me -- a glaring red rash and loads of armpit hair. I peeked around the fuzz and made a face at eight-year-old Shorty. She looked terrified. I couldn’t help but be grateful for the fact that it was the beginning of the day and the potential for fresher air was still at hand. The Scottish word ‘oxter’ rolled around in my mind endlessly until he got off the bus with gobs of other park-goers to allow us to sit in a diseased-armpit free zone.
At stop number seventeen we exited the bus and we joked about it being as crowded as Disney, not exactly what we had expected. One of us had the bright idea to wait a few minutes to let the hordes of people from the bus meander ahead as we enjoyed the gorgeousness of the giant white pines, and redwood lined path calling out to us. When most of the crowd was out of view, we started along the path following Tenaya Creek.
About a mile uphill we came to a clearing with magnificent views of Half Dome and dozens of people swimming in a calmer area at the head of the creek. The water widened to a narrow lake with stunning mountain views all around. You know me, I was itching to get in that water. We shucked shoes and crossed a small stream to get to what used to be the middle of the lake, feet squishing in the ice-cold mud.
Years ago, they dredged the area to create a lake that would mirror the mountains, hence it’s name. As the years passed they made the choice to stop dredging and let nature take its course. Now it sports two small halves of a stream with an island in the middle.
We waded across the water braving the bone-chilling temps with little Shorty thigh-deep complaining of how much it hurt her little bones. My ankles were screaming to get out of there but my mind told it to hush since the water was so refreshing. The two men folk wanted a longer walk so they walked around the lake, or so they said. Truth be told the boy didn’t want to wade through the water. We reunited with them about a half an hour later as they sloshed through lake. I recognized the steam coming out of my son’s ears and his hunched body language letting me know to tread carefully. He emerged from the water shoes still on his feet and a seething hatred for all things natural, despite his love of science. Turns out the path around the lake was blocked and they had no choice but to wade through the longest part of the lake.
We made our way back down the path along a tree-lined road with the boy doing his best to swat every flying insect within a ten-foot radius of his delicate “I prefer the indoors” and “haven’t I been put through enough today” self. The rest of us were in heaven with the huge trees creating dappled shade (might I add desperately needed shade) and fresh air. Living in Dirtville, any trees are a welcome sight, but these were magnificent giants bigger than any trees I’d ever seen. My sister and mother in law, two very well-traveled ladies, were greatly enamored with the stunning views of sheer granite cliffs above us and occasional burned out forest as we walked.
We stopped for lunch back in the village after another crowded shuttle ride, but absent offensive body parts in my face (thank God) and spent some time in the air-conditioned Ansel Adams museum and other stores. The hardier folks in our group (and more nature loving) went on another hike as my beautiful darlings ate ice cream in the cool bug-free zone.
I sipped on coffee and discussed twitter pages of the politicians running for President with my son, who critiqued their worthiness on twitter. His analysis: Some were more genuine than others, and one definitely had a staff member do all the social media posts. At least I could talk to him without the incessant question of ‘couldn’t we walk faster’ or ‘when are we going home’ inserted every other sentence. The poor boy was just not cut out for the rest of his nature-loving family. He should have raised by a pack of nerds.
After buying Shorty a cute stuffed black bear at the grocery store we made our way out of the park snapping pictures of Half Dome, El Capitan, and the enormous cliffs. About a half hour out of the park it was 105 and ridiculously hot. Our rental home was down a long dirt road deep in the woods where the devastating effects of the 5-year drought and an infestation of a beetle that targeted smaller pine trees left as many brown trees as green ones. The boy immediately retired to the cool solitude of the basement to recover from his torturous day out in one of the most spectacular National Parks our country has to offer. The rest of us retired to make dinner with cold white wine in the delicious air conditioned upstairs to make dinner and talk of our adventures of the day.
I counted my blessings to be surrounded by family in such a spectacular place in the world. How was I so lucky to be able to afford this vacation and the love of such amazing people? I hoped my kids would realize what a unique adventure they had just experienced and maybe even bring their kids here someday. I felt sorry for the people who were raised by a pack of nerds and never venture out to experience such stunning nature and, despite the crowds, a national treasure.