Monday, November 19, 2018

The Way It Was: The Deep Grassy Valley of the Ahwahnee

No geology exposition in today's post. Our state is choking in a toxic inversion layer filled with ash and particulate soot that is a sad reminder of the lives lost and lives destroyed by a horrific wildfire in the North State. Just for today, a reminder that beauty surrounds us in the depths of tragedy and suffering.
Half Dome reflected in the waters of the Merced River at Sentinel Bridge
Ahwahnee was the Native American name for Yosemite Valley. It's meaning is muddled in time, but it probably means the "Big Mouth", or the "Deep Grassy Valley". It was an island of clear skies and clean air above the smoke and ash. We only had a few hours to visit, so we headed to Sentinel Bridge for a short stroll, and as the sun set in the west we made for the Gateway View at the west end of the valley.
Sentinel Rock from Sentinel Bridge
Sentinel Rock is an astounding vertical cliff that rises nearly 3,000 feet above the valley floor. It receives somewhat less attention than some other rocks and cliffs in Yosemite Valley because it rises behind people who are staring in awe at Yosemite Falls on the north side of the valley.
Yosemite Point and the dry Yosemite Falls
Speaking of Yosemite Falls, there wasn't much to see of them. There was the barest trickle of water that did no more than wet part of the cliff. That should change this week as the first winter storm of year arrives (weeks late). We need it desperately, and many storms thereafter. When the falls aren't there, one's eyes are free to wander over the incredible cliffs that surround the dry watercourse. Yosemite Point and the Lost Arrow stood out boldly in the sun (in the picture above).
We barely had time to reach the Gateway View before the sun settled below the horizon. Only the vertical face of El Capitan was still catching the rays of light, and it soon faded.
The Moon peeked out from the cliffs to our right.
As the valley floor settled into darkness, the sky still glowed. It was a peaceful scene, filled with a serenity that is so sadly lacking right now. We enjoyed the scene until the darkness descended and we headed home.

To help those whose lives have been destroyed in the fire, you can find some ideas here:

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