Exploring

June 27, 2014
Westfall Meadows
Total distance: 4.6 miles

When I was a child, exploring didn’t mean hiking on a trail in Yosemite.  It meant walking with eyes wide open through our manicured backyard after Mass on Sundays.  Enraptured by nature, I would finger the leaves of the bushes, cradle the berries, hunt for spider webs, and inspect the grass for bugs.  The memories of that young inquisitive soul were awakened as I walked the trail to Westfall Meadows in Yosemite National Park.

Leaving behind the noise of Glacier Point Road, I entered the shadowy forest.  Pink pussypaws growing in the sand brightened the way.  The scent of cinnamon drifted through the breeze.  The fragrant air was filled with whistling birds.

Pussypaws lined the trail on both sides.

Pussypaws lined the trail.

Slowly meandering along the path, I explored and eagerly looked for wildflowers.

Mountain lungwort also known as mountain bluebells.  First time seeing this flower.

Mountain lungwort also known as mountain bluebells. First time seeing this flower.

Indian paintbrush and western bistort were spread prolifically and easy to spot.

Indian paintbrush is Wyoming's state flower.

Indian paintbrush is Wyoming’s state flower.

Western bistort.

Western bistort.  The roots of this plant are edible.

Less prevalent were the blossoms that were closed until the sun filtered through the giant pine trees, unfurling their petals.

Lesser star tulip related to the Mariposa lily.  First time seeing this flower.

Lesser star tulip, related to the Mariposa lily. First time seeing this flower.

While looking, I spied a bird’s nest tucked into the branches of a bush.

A well-constructed little home.

A well-constructed little home.

Later, a giant multicolored rock caught my attention.

I loved the variegated tones in this egg-shaped rock.

I loved the variegated tones in this egg-shaped rock.

Along the way, I realized that many of the trees possessed a unique beauty.

A tree with snow-knee.

A tree with snow-knee.

A jumble of branches from a fallen tree.

Looking into a tangle of branches from a fallen tree.

Fuzzy lichen-laden branches.

Fuzzy lichen-laden branches.

I saw a tree whose bark I thought had been clawed by a bear.  No other trunk in the vicinity appeared to have these marks.

What made these gashes?

What made these gashes?

The defined route ended and a faint trail commenced through the delicate meadow.

Approaching the meadow.

Approaching the meadow.

The path led to a stream with several logs placed neatly across the water.

Here's where I stopped, but the trail continued for several more miles.

Here’s where I stopped, but the trail continued for several more miles.

Some areas in the meadow had a distinct wetland odor.

Some areas had a distinct wetland scent.

Westfall Meadow

A dense stand of corn lily plants grew at the meadow’s edge.  Walking towards them through the marshy grass, I found flowers that were new to me.

Little elephants head.  First time seeing this flower.

Little elephants head. First time seeing this flower.

Retracing my steps, I headed back and crossed the street to the McGurk Meadow trail.

Glacier Point is an oft-visited and busy spot at the end of this road.

Cars zoomed by on their way to Glacier Point, an oft-visited and busy spot at the end of this road.

Each year I visit McGurk Meadow to see the wildflowers.  Unlike the deserted and unmarked trail of  Westfall Meadows, this trail is well-used.  I walked to the end of the meadow admiring this year’s flowers, passing many people along the way.

Happy to be here.

McGurk Meadow.  Happy to be here.

These are the other flowers I saw while exploring.  Many of them you will recognize since I post them often; they seem to pop up all over:

Slender larkspur.

Slender larkspur.

Skyrocket, also known as scarlet gilia.

Skyrocket, also known as scarlet gilia.

Cinquefoil.  This is becoming one of my favorite flowers.

Cinquefoil. This is becoming one of my favorite flowers.

Mariposa lily.  Its petals were closed as I passed it on the way in, but were open on the way out.

Mariposa lily. Its petals were closed as I passed it on the way in, but were open on the way out.

Wild strawberry, though I've yet to find a berry on these plants.  The animals must love them.

Wild strawberry, though I’ve yet to find a berry on these plants. The animals must love them.

Wild geranium

Wild geranium.

Everyone should know this flower by now since I post it so often: shooting stars.

Shooting stars.

Crimson columbine.

Crimson columbine.

Nodding microseris, like a dandelion (or common weed).

Nodding microseris, like a dandelion (or common weed).

I am blessed to be able to explore nature on the trails of Yosemite, and to experience a profound sense of wonder on every trail or even in my own backyard.

12 thoughts on “Exploring

  1. Kathy

    What a delightful exploration, Janet. I often feel like a child again when exploring around the woods or going on a leisurely walk up the road. Your pictures are beautiful.

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  2. Dad

    You’ve done a fantastic job of capturing and describing the beauty of Yosemite. I read this blog, and ALL your blogs, with an enormous amount of parental pride.

    Dad

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  3. Kyle Kuns

    A nice range of subjects you explored. Great that you invest the time to know the names of the different flowers. I’m still mostly in the tree, rock, flower stage 🙂

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