Smithsonian Journeys Dispatches

Exploring the Natural Wonders of Yosemite

The last several hundred yards of our hike meandered across the broad granitic expanse of Sentinel Dome. Patches of snow and our shortness of breath were indicators of the lofty elevation here, over 8,000 ft. above sea level. As we paused to rest, our gaze was drawn to some of Yosemite National Park’s iconic landforms.

To the west the huge slab of gray rock, El Capitan, towered above Yosemite Valley while the curving face of Half Dome dominated the view in the opposite direction. Although we had seen many wildflowers and migrant birds on our Yosemite in Spring program, huge gray clouds and the snowy jagged peaks of the Sierra crest seemed to confuse the season.

Thousands of feet below us, the Nevada, Vernal, and other waterfalls full of fresh snow melt thundered away. A gnarled old Jeffrey Pine grew out of a crack in the rock where we were standing, without a hint of its age. Just the day before we had walked under massive giant Sequoias, marveling at their size and beauty. These awe-inspiring sights were just some of the wonders we enjoyed on our Smithsonian adventure.

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