I didn't take this photo, but I took one just like it (and lost it). Photo Credit: TheKesslers.]
One thing that's really cool about Yosemite is that you don't have to be a professional photographer to take great photos.
I took this one just steps away from the restrooms, and it's one of my favorites.
We spent the night in an "historic" hotel in Wawona.
It's a wonderful place to stay if you are rich.
(Read my TripAdvisor review if you want more specifics.)
The next morning, we set out earlyish (8:30am) to hike Chilnualna Falls trail.
I had read that this was a "hot" hike (lots of sun), so I wore a hat, and I was glad for it later.
(The forecast was 84 degrees that day.)
This hike is 8.2 miles (round trip) and has a rise of 2400 feet in elevation.
It took us about 3.5 hours.
The beginning of the trail follows Chilnualna [chill-noo-all-na] Creek, which of course is fed by the falls,
which, due to a wet spring this year, were really rolling.
In the photo below, Kyle is having a little spray shower as he kindly waits for his mom to catch up :)
They grow BIG pinecones in Yosemite!
This trail was described as "strenuous." It was, but it was worth the work.
After all, when is the last time you stood this close to a rainbow?
Near the very top, we stopped and relaxed for about an hour.
I went a little bit further while Kyle relaxed.
I am not the competitive type of person who always has to reach the top just because it's there; I'm content to go further than most people and let the die-hards finish the "race."
On the way back down, Kyle had an experience he'll be talking about for year to come. Walking past a sunny spot, he heard a distinct, "chik-chik" sound and followed the sound to....well....watch the video and see for yourself!
[Warning: There is PG-13 profanity in this video.]
As you may know, we do not have rattlesnakes in Wisconsin. We also do not have mountains or foot-long pine cones. As you can imagine, Kyle loved this hike--his first "real" hike. He said that he was proud of himself for being able to endure it. As for me, my goal in taking him there was to give him a little taste of the payoff one can gain from a good hiking effort, especially out west.
My wilderness-loving niece says that hiking is great, but backpacking is the way to go if you want to have a truly amazing experience. I told her I will pass. However, something tells me she's going to be persistent on that one.
Never say never, right?