To back up and look at this cloud filled world from a distance takes away none of the mystery. Here is a spectacularly deep gorge with dark forested slopes and vertical rock cliffs. What kind of place is this? Who's been keeping it such a secret? Shouldn't it be a national park or something?
Well, actually it is, and upwards of four million people look at this cliff tower every year. They just don't quite see it as it gets lost in the multitudes of other more iconic cliffs like Half Dome, El Capitan, and Cathedral Rocks. Half Dome would be in the picture above were it not for the clouds.
We are looking at Sentinel Rock, and it is the hard-to-see tower in the dead center of the picture below. Can you see how easy it is to lose it in the grandeur of the cliffs that surround it on all sides? I was taking advantage of the cloud cover to get a photo from Tunnel View that highlights the cliff.
|How could you miss it? It's in the dead center of the photograph! (May 2014)|
the previous posts of this short series on the cliffs of Yosemite Valley, joints are vertical or nearly vertical fractures that can result from stresses on the rock at shallow depths in the crust. Rocks like the Half Dome granodiorite and El Capitan granite are sparsely jointed and stand as bold cliffs that stand out from the valley walls. The Sentinel granodiorite is somewhat more jointed, so it stands more as a tower than a large cliff. It is surrounded by spires and fissures, including the Taft Fissures that can be accessed by trail above the rim of the valley.
Sentinel Rock soars 3,000 feet above the valley floor with an elevation of 7,038 ft (2,165 m). It is a popular climbing challenge. No trails reach the summit, but the Four-Mile Trail to Glacier Point winds across the slopes below. There is a separate peak called Sentinel Dome behind the rim above Sentinel Rock that is a popular hiking destination.