Serendipitous Moments

February 28, 2018
Lower Yosemite Falls
Total distance walked: 2.25 miles

Early in January I made a commitment to myself to hike at least once a month.  To honor the commitment, Chris and I headed to Yosemite National Park on the last day of February.  My plan was to hike a portion of the Valley Loop Trail beginning at the east end of the valley.  Once there, I felt it was too cold to leave the car.  A snowy winter storm was predicted.  Though cold outside, there was little, if any, ice or snow on the ground.

Change of plan.  Instead we walked to the Valley Visitor’s Center.  A blast of warm air hit us when we entered the building and my glasses began to fog.  Chris perused the bookstore while I discussed our spring backpacking trip with the Ranger on duty.  Then we headed next door to the Museum and Art Gallery where Yosemite Renaissance is on display until May.  Viewing artwork inspired by Yosemite and the California Sierra Nevada region was an unexpected treat.

A large section of ancient tree dating back to the time before Jesus hangs outside the museum.

Upon leaving the museum, Chris spotted Ranger Shelton Johnson, a celebrity in our eyes.  Ranger Johnson has appeared many times in the Ken Burns miniseries on National Parks.  Chris took the opportunity to tell Ranger Johnson how he inspired him to do a segment on his radio show about Buffalo Soldiers and George Monroe, historical figures in early Yosemite.  By the way, you can hear my husband’s radio show, The Mother Lode of Mariposa History, from anywhere in the world via Internet at  It airs every Friday at 1 PM (PST) and Sunday at 7 PM (PST) The premise of the show is to tell the history of Mariposa County including early Yosemite through words and music.  Talking with Ranger Johnson was the highlight of Chris’s day.  Unfortunately, I was too shy to ask him to pose for a photo.

On our way.

After talking with Ranger Johnson, we braved the cold and walked to the Yosemite Falls trailhead.

The paved bike path to the falls trail.

As we walked, Chris stated that the jaunt to the falls was actually hiking.  I disagreed.

Yosemite Falls
Our first view of Upper Yosemite Falls through the trees.

To me, hiking means walking on dirt or natural terrain.  Not once did our feet touch a dirt trail.  To Chris, as long as he’s wearing hiking boots, he is hiking.  Since we were actually on a trail, albeit paved, I will consider this my second hike for the year.

At the trailhead.

There are two ways to enter the trail from the road: the closest from where we walked was through the exit; a little farther on was the entrance.  Most people entered through the exit when we were there.  We took the entrance and were gifted with a scenic view of the whole falls, and a surprisingly empty trail.

The waterfalls were flowing and a crowd gathered at its base.  We stayed but a moment, then continued on.

Yosemite Falls
Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls. Look at this trail, no one was there. Quite unusual.
Lower Yosemite Falls
Lower Yosemite Falls

As we made our way towards the exit, we took a side trail over a wooden bridge that led to the spot where John Muir had a small cabin in 1869.


The sugar pine cabin was Muir’s home for two years.  It had a wonderful view of Yosemite Falls.

The rock marks the spot of John Muir’s cabin. The plaque attached to the rock has been there since 1924.

We finished the loop trail and ended the afternoon at Degnan’s Deli Kitchen for a warm bowl of spicy chili.

Half Dome
Half Dome, the view leaving the falls trail.

No matter how often we go to Yosemite, each visit offers a unique experience.  This trip included a few random surprises: a visit to the art gallery, a chat with Ranger Johnson, and an unoccupied trail.  If we had stuck to the original hiking plan, we would have missed all of those serendipitous moments.