October 7, 2017
Olmsted Point Nature Trail
Parsons Lodge and Soda Spring
Total distance walked: 2.56 miles
It was a crisp autumn morning in Yosemite National Park. My daughter, sister, niece and I drove through the pine-clothed sloping hills of Tioga Road. We were heading up to the high country in celebration of Nikki’s birthday; she wanted to do a few easy hikes. The ladies indulged me as I played tour guide throughout the day pointing out the scenic wonders, and telling of the rich history and biological diversity of the area.
Nikki sat in front to stave off car sickness as we traveled the winding road. From the backseat, my sister said, “I hope we see a bear, but not on the trail.” Literally, five minutes later, we saw a mama and two cubs running through the trees alongside the road. We slowed to a stop while Nikki took a video of them out the car window.
Our first destination was Olmsted Point. We walked the nature trail, which I’ve never done before. It led to a large, erratic boulder and vast views of exposed granite.
Looking out towards Half Dome, we could see smoke. It was quite evident that the Empire Fire was still burning.
Back in the car again, we drove to Tenaya Lake for a brief snack break. We stretched our legs along the shore then headed to Tuolumne Meadows.
The drive to Tuolumne Meadows from Tenaya Lake was quick. We parked in the Lembert Dome parking area and began the scenic walk through the meadow out to Parsons Lodge and Soda Spring.
Parsons Memorial Lodge, a national historic building, was built by the Sierra Club in 1915. Nowadays it is used during summertime for special programs.
A tenth of a mile from the lodge is an alkaline spring—Soda Spring where cold, naturally carbonated water bubbles up from the ground. We spent a few minutes watching the fizzy water tempted to taste it, but did not. Leaving the spring, we walked back to the car.
We drove east through Dana Meadows and exited Yosemite stopping at the parking area above Tioga Lake. Brittle winds blew down from the mountains. Grabbing blankets, food and drinks, we hiked down to a protected area at the lake’s shore. Nestled against a bush and some boulders, we spread out our picnic feast. In spite of the wind, it was an ideal day, the sky a lapis blue and the autumn sun warming our shoulders.
Back in the car once again, we drove to our final destination, The Majestic Yosemite Hotel, two hours away in Yosemite Valley. We sat in the recently renovated bar and enjoyed a celebratory drink while unwinding from our exciting day in the high country.
“You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.”
— Desmond Tutu