The bus ride up to Glacier Point from Yosemite Valley takes an hour and a half. The driver tells us the history of the valley as we slowly leave it and go up the mountainside. He’s a good storyteller, the kind that pauses to let statements hang in the air and sink in. He speaks with a tone and cadence that focuses my attention. I shush Finn when he tries to tell me something, and say; “I want to hear him.” I gaze out the window and hang on every word. We learn about the Indians in the valley, their name, a word for grizzly bear, with a literal translation to “the killers.” Yosemite.
We learn about James Savage, the trader, Galen Clark, the friend to travelers and Guardian of Yosemite, James Mason Hutchings, the promoter and hotelier, and finally John Muir. All of these people and many others contributing to making this park.
The view from the top of Glacier Point is like none other. The whole valley is spread below and surrounding you are granite monoliths with cascading waterfalls. We join the other shutterbugs and try to capture our awe in photos.
The trail down from the peak descends 3,200 feet in 4.6 miles. Switchbacks are followed by more switchbacks and the dizzying descent stresses my knees. There are only a few other travelers on the trail. We were the only ones on our bus tour to buy one-way tickets. I’m disappointed to miss the bus driver’s stories in the return drive. He has been working in the park for twenty years and, like our bus driver in Yellowstone, seemed to know everything about the park.
We started walking down the mountain at 3:35pm. We take our time and watch the sun set slowly. Darkness arrives just as we see the valley road and we know we made it back. It took us exactly three hours and my legs wobble as we hit level ground.
The walk along the road back to our campground is long but thankfully flat. A deer appears before us out of the dark. Our eyes lock on each other as Finn and I stay our course and she stands her ground. I could put out my arm and almost stroke her as we silently pass. Nighttime in the valley is quiet and still except for the cars passing us, their headlights lighting our path and showing us the way. We get to our home in the campground and quickly start a campfire. A simple dinner made over the fire never tasted so good as it does tonight.