Vignettes of Nature

August 9, 2017

McGurk Meadow to Dewey Point
Total distance walked: 8 miles

One of my favorite hikes in summertime is through McGurk Meadow in Yosemite National Park.


The meadow is home to a vibrant garden of wildflowers.  I was lucky to be there when many were in bloom this past August.


The colorful meadow made my heart happy, and the smell of wildfire smoke, at first, was pleasant.  It wasn’t long before the smoke from the lightening-caused Empire Fire (just over 400 acres on that day) was a constant irritant making my eyes burn and nose run.  I headed through the meadow and out to Dewey Point.

The view from the point, I knew, would be hindered by smoke.

Approaching Dewey Point.
Looking down from the point at the Merced River and South Side Drive.

Beyond wildflowers and mountain views—beauty that is easily seen—is so much more to experience.  Down in the minutia of a trail is the oft unseen activity of Mother Nature.

Colorful butterflies floated and whirled silently in the meadow in search of food.

Crystal-clear dragonfly wings carried this big-eyed fellow through the forest without hesitation.

Flame Skimmer

I stepped gingerly to miss the tiny Pacific tree frogs scattered about the forest floor. Their commanding ribbit reverberated through the trees.  These frogs are also called chorus frogs due to their vocal repertoire.

Pacific tree frog.

A drab critter scampered up a piece of protruding wood and perched himself at the top.  I grabbed my camera and shot a photo before he ran down.  He didn’t look like a squirrel, maybe he was a bushy tailed wood rat.

A rat or a squirrel?

A mountain quail, the largest quail in the United States, called loudly to his mate.  I heard him before I saw him.  Over and over again he sounded the high-pitched whistle giving me time to search him out.  There he was, tucked in the tree branches standing proudly, the tall exclamation mark feather topping his head.

Mountain Quail

I was blessed on this walk to witness not only my favorite wildflowers, and the vast views from the point, but the beautiful vignettes of nature off the beaten path.

McGurk’s cabin, seasonal home of Yosemite cattleman Jack McGurk from 1895 to 1897. Located on the edge of McGurk Meadow.

Fire update:  The Empire fire started on August 1, 2017 a mile south of Bridalveil Campground in Yosemite’s Wilderness, Mariposa County and burned 8,094 acres.  It was contained on November 27, 2017 —Cal Fire