Bears. Waterfalls. Redwoods. Cliffs. This is Yosemite.
A two-lane road hugs the mountains, tracing the curves with precision. Sometime steep, sometimes dark and eerie, the road's most shocking feature is when suddenly the trees disappear and a clearing exposes the hidden world of Yosemite.
Mist hangs over the valley, caressing the treetops of Redwoods and Sequoias. Vast mountains jut from the earth around the valley, as if to protect the valley from outsiders. As if to keep it hidden. Waterfalls plummet from the tips of peaks into the crevices of the dark forests.
Bears lurk in the darkness. They roam the woods, sniffing out nearby campers. Then they quietly and boldly drift into the campsites and scavenge what they can. Tourists caught in the open freeze, cameras at the ready. Bears turn their noses to the wind and scamper away, chased by barking Yorkies.
Water rages in the rivers, urged onward by the falls, roaring endlessly. Hikers stumble up the trails to the peak of the waterfalls, rising above the roar to the calm waters before the plunge. Soggy shoes slip over round, black rocks smoothed by years of water erosion.
The air is brisk. Pine needles litter the forest floor. The sky glistens with stars at night. In winter, snow dusts the trees and outlines the edges of the peaks. In summer, flowers decorate the fields and permeate the air.
This is Yosemite.