The beginning of the trail in the deep Red Fir forest gives few hints of the grandeur that lies beyond. It almost immediately passes an unusual outcrop of almost pure quartz (remember y'all, it's a national park; no collecting!). The trail plunges into the forest and crosses Sentinel Creek, which a short distance downstream falls over the brink of Sentinel Falls, more than 1,000 feet high.
|One of the Taft Fissures. The "layers" are exfoliation fractures, a process related to jointing.|
There are four stunning viewpoints within a short walk of Glacier Point Road. Washburn Point, seen in the last post, emphasizes the wilderness lands upstream of Yosemite Valley (and a side view of Half Dome). Glacier Point provides a look straight down into the upper end of the valley, extending from Half Dome and Tenaya Creek Canyon to the area around Yosemite Falls. Sentinel Dome provides a 360 degree panorama of the entire region, but without the dizzying look straight down sheer cliffs. It is accessed from the same trailhead as Taft Point.
was a bit over 10,000 cubic meters.
The cliff of El Capitan and the sheer cliffs of the Cathedral Rocks form a constriction in the western part of Yosemite Valley. Sometimes called the "Gateway", the rocks stand out because they are relatively unjointed, and thus were more resistant to the cutting and quarrying action of the glacial ice. The barrier even extends underground. Beneath the cliffs, the sediments are only about 300 feet deep. Farther up the valley, the sediments are around 2,000 feet deep. The glaciers at times had to flow up and over the sill of granite.
The sun hit the horizon and the sky exploded into flaming orange and pink. I quickly headed up the trail and back to the car so Mrs. Geotripper and I could have a nice dinner back down on the valley floor. It didn't matter that it was dark. The moon was up and we could still see the cliffs above, including a constellation of lights from at least fourteen climbing parties on El Capitan.