We woke up to a rather smoky Yosemite Valley, so I was happy I had already planned to climb up high that morning. I shuttled to the Lodge and walked over to the 4 Mile Trail, starting up the many switchbacks. I enjoyed the easy grade while gaining altitude at a decent clip.
Soon there were views of the north rim and the walls of granite visible in that direction:
Looking west toward the valley entrance, not sure if this haze is from the Rough Fire (many miles away) or if it drifted down from the fire burning on the north rim above us. At least the sky above is nice and blue!
High spires above the trail:
There has been a ton of work put into making the trails around here:
Lovely trail in the morning shadows:
And... there's the fire and billowing smoke on the opposite rim:
I didn't know I'd be getting a show that morning - at least 3 planes circling at all times, dropping flame retardant and water. I could have stood for hours watching them come around, fly low over the smoke, drop a load of red powder, then zoom overhead and circle way up the valley to line it up again. One of the planes was a huge "Very Large Air Tanker," a converted DC-10 that was spectacular to watch. Possibly the one I got a photo of?
Good morning, Half Dome:
A group setting up to work on something (trail work maybe?):
Up high on the trail was a good spot to see the extent of the fire, wow, it had spread a lot since we first spotted it from atop Half Dome the day before:
Interesting moss on the trees:
An enterprising squirrel who managed to carry the entire pine cone away with him:
Unlike the "photo opportunity" spot up on Half Dome, this one is roped off from tourists:
Love the view up the valley along Half Dome:
One more shot of the fire:
Looking down at the lodge and Merced River:
Yep, that is definitely Half Dome over there (along with a bunch of other features that I'm slowly learning more about):
Starting down the Panorama Trail, this caught my eye:
Illilouette Falls on the way around the Panorama Trail:
It was a fun run around, up, and down the trail, merging with the John Muir Trail and eventually taking me back down to the valley. Nice day!
John ran the loop in the opposite direction the next morning and captured this image with his phone:
OK, that's a lot of smoke. By far the most we have had to deal with this summer, amid all the haze from various wildfires across California and the Pacific NW. I feel for the people who have to live in these conditions all the time, and I appreciate all the more our ability to drive our "house" away from it when necessary.
Yosemite was smoky, but we were still enjoying it tremendously for a few days.