A Mariposa Grove shuttle bus unhurriedly wound its way up the wooded hillside from Yosemite National Park’s southern gate to the famed Mariposa Grove. It paused for a minute to let us and at least twenty other passengers get a glimpse of four giant sequoia trees. These lone soldiers have stood guard for multiple centuries. Resuming its course for a few hundred feet, the shuttle halted again, permitting the passengers to get out, and we moseyed into the grove with the crowd.
The grove is sadly marred by modern manmade walkways. In the past, visitors could drive up to the edge of the grove in their own car, walk on the native soil, touch the trees, and absorb God’s majestic nature. Now, wooden boardwalks, public shuttles, and wooden fences protect this grove, but I still enjoyed looking at these massive trees even from a distance, awe-inspiring as they are. They almost seem to be like the trees in Psalm 96:12: “All the trees of the wood rejoice”!
After a short walk through the grove and a shuttle ride back to the parking lot, we progressed to a small service road branching from the highway to Glacier Point. The closed service road did not look promising if you did not know where it would take you, but we knew that it would be a worthwhile hike. We strode in on foot from the highway, merged with a dusty trail, and ascended a hill-like boulder.
Upon the top of this small mountain, called Sentinel Dome, we caught our breath while identifying several landmarks of Yosemite, including Nevada Falls, Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and El Capitan. I found a spot away from the people who were also enjoying the view, and set my pack down on a table-like rock. A small gnarled pine tree gave me a little shade from the radiant summer sun, while another rock served as a seat and a small block from the wind. My family and I found wonderful solitude at that spot, but not silence. The wind roared and howled hoarsely. We shuddered at thunder booming from approaching clouds.
We relished that serene location for a while before deciding that lightning and rain might be on the way to give Sentinel Dome a shower, making us prime lightning rods. While carefully hiking back to our car, we encountered a quail family and a very chubby chipmunk.
Afterwards, we drove to our final stop, Glacier Point, where we ravenously devoured dinner. Then we walked leisurely to Glacier Point with cameras and binoculars, and watched the magnificent hues of a Yosemite Valley sunset. The star party we were to attend began, so we found seats on the rocky amphitheater and listened to a short presentation.
Next we headed with a park ranger and most of the stargazing group to the actual point, but we stayed for only some of the ranger’s talk before returning to the telescopes back at the amphitheater.
We spread out beach towels to lie on while we gazed at the Big Dipper, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, and the Milky Way. The stars twinkled and the planets shone the message of Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork.”
Though we arrived home close to midnight, it was well worth the day trip to the sequoias, Sentinel Dome, and the stars, to enjoy and be inspired by God’s wonderful creation.