August 6, 2020
Washburn Trail to Mariposa Grove
Total distance walked: 6 miles
Late one morning, Chris and I headed to the great cathedral of trees, the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. We parked at the grove’s welcome plaza. Another Covid related change in Yosemite National Park is, there are no shuttle buses running this year. Normally we would ride the free shuttle from the plaza to the grove. With a deep sense of adventure, we began an hour-long uphill walk on the Washburn Trail to the grove.
The Washburn Trail was part of the 2015 restoration project. It converted remnants of the historic Washburn Road—built in 1879 as a stage-coach route from Wawona to the grove—into a walkable trail. During normal years this is a much lesser used trail. But during this year of Covid, it is the main route to the grove.
It was already warm outside; the air was sultry. The trail was crammed with hikers, from youngsters riding on their parent’s shoulders, and teenagers kicking up tornadoes of dust with every footfall, to more seasoned walkers like Chris and me. We did our best to social distance.
During the hike, I thought out what I wanted to say to my future daughter-in-law. She was having a surprise wedding shower, but due to Covid, I could not attend. Instead I would record a video message for her. The video was the reason we were hiking to the grove. There stands a tree named The Faithful Couple. I wanted to incorporate the tree into the video.
We reached the grove where the sun filtered through the giant trees. As we sat in the shade for a short rest, Chris said, “Hiking is better than a shuttle.” (I wrote it down so I wouldn’t forget it. Such music to my ears.)
We skipped touring the lower grove where most of the crowd was heading and walked straight to the upper grove—another one mile uphill—wherein lives the Faithful Couple tree.
Once we reached the special tree, Chris recorded the minute-long video. The essence of my message was, the Faithful Couple is two separate trees that fused together at their base. They will be together as long as they live. What a great symbol of marriage—two separate people (Andrew and Sarah) fusing together as one through marriage as long as they live.
With the recording done, we left the Faithful Couple tree just as a group of hikers approached. The walk was all downhill from there.
Though Covid has changed so much of what we do these days, I feel blessed that we can still hit the trail for exercise, fun and fresh mountain air.