Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Yosemite Waterfalls & Moonbows... "Blessed Mountain Evangels"

Visiting Yosemite Valley is always a humbling experience.  It seems to me impossible to stand amidst all that towering granite and think of yourself as anything, but minute... small and fleeting.  Yet, far from depressing, this vantage point always feels invigorating to me.  Any problems I may have fall into proper perspective as fairly inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.  Suddenly the greatest of dilemmas seems trivial and far easier to handle.  This sort of attitude adjustment is available all year round in Yosemite, but in the spring there's the added bonus of the powerful waterfalls.  I'll not wax poetic about the baptismal, renewing nature of water, but you probably get the idea.  Go to Yosemite in spring, after a winter of fairly heavy precipitation and you'll understand the true meaning of breathtaking.

My first picture above is Bridalveil Falls and the name says it all... gorgeous.  The little hike to the falls is rather damp, but well worth it.  When you get to the viewpoint, it really feels like you're in a drizzling rainstorm... as you can see from the droplets in my pictures.  Below is Cascade Falls and and my equally gorgeous daughter gives a good size perspective there in front of the massive boulders.  We all scrambled up and behind those boulders to get as close as we could to the base of the falls.
We saw Yosemite Falls in full flow and many other smaller falls we didn't know the names of.  When we rented bikes, the cashier pointed out "Staircase Falls," which literally fell in a squarish step-down, staircase pattern over the granite formations.  We did however, miss out on seeing a Moonbow over Yosemite Falls.  The night we'd hoped to see it turned out fairly cloudy and we ended up getting a little rain, so we decided not to hang out until midnight (best viewing time for Moonbows apparently).

If you're not familiar with a moonbow, think rainbow -- only lunar powered!  They're sort of a double reflection that forms when light from the sun is reflected by the moon and then reflected in a spray of water (like that from a waterfall).  You need a full moon and a clear night.  They're very rare and can only be seen in a handful of places around the world -- Yosemite being one of the most famous.  In Yosemite, you generally want a full moon in April-June.  Well, last Sunday night was indeed the full moon, but we were thwarted by cloud cover.  Since we were unable to see it or get pictures, I'm including a stock picture to give you an idea of what one looks like.
And I'll end this post with John Muir's description of a Moonbow of Yosemite:  “This grand arc of color, glowing in mild, shapely beauty in so weird and huge a chamber of night shadows, and amid the rush and roar and tumultuous dashing of this thunder-voiced fall, is one of the most impressive and most cheering of all the blessed mountain evangels.”


  1. Bob and I went to Yosemite for our first anniversary after a similarly wet winter. We were transfixed by every aspect of the park, especially the roaring waterfalls. Thanks for bringing back excellent memories!

  2. Beautiful! I am hoping that we are on our way there in a couple od weeks! :)Thanks for posting this, it's just beautiful :)