July 18, 2014
Bridalveil Creek Trail
Total distance: 6.6 miles
It is common to share a trail with hikers, especially on some of the more popular trails in Yosemite National Park, but I saw few people on this hike. Maybe because there was no destination to the route I chose, no lake or river to sit next to, no sweeping views to admire along the way. There was evidence, however, that I unquestionably shared the trail.
I pulled the car into the dirt parking lot where trucks with horse trailers crowded the wooded area. Two black birds circling above squawked loudly as I headed out.
Today’s walk bordered the elusive Bridalveil Creek. It was well-hidden for the most part, but I knew it was there snaking its way through the thicket below the trail.
It was an easy walk through the regenerating forest that fire destroyed years ago. This was ground that I covered in the past on the way to Ostrander Lake. I was shocked to see how much the trees had grown in the four years since I was here last.
The trail led alternately through sandy meadows lush with wildflowers, open rocky areas and the forest strewn with dead wood.
There were stalks and stalks of brightly colored fireweed, the plant that grows only after forest fires have occurred.
Enjoying the cool air and walking slowly along the well-defined path, I found new flowers that I hadn’t seen before.
Lining the trail were twinberry honeysuckle shrubs also known as bearberry honeysuckle. Bears find the berries of these plants appetizing.
Near the berries was evidence that I shared the trail with a bear.
I heard a variety of bird calls, birds perhaps keeping in touch with family members or warning them of my presence; but one drab bird in particular literally shared the trail with me. It ran on the ground and followed the path through the forest. Several small squirrels followed suit throughout the day. Swarms of fritillary butterflies fluttered away as I walked on the trail through their perennial feeding ground.
A light wind cooled me while walking through a warm, sunny stretch. On the trail was a reminder that I shared this area with a mountain coyote.
I came to the end of the route when reaching Bridalveil Creek Campground. Instead of walking through and making a loop hike, which would have meant walking on the pathless Glacier Point Road, I turned back and retraced my steps. At a clearing, I headed down to the creek for a brief break.
While walking back through the shady forest, I found delicate smoothstemmed fireweed growing in a wet area near the creek, cousin to the larger fireweed.
I am always pleased to have an area to myself, but in a forest teeming with wildlife, both seen and unseen, I am never truly alone.