Monday, August 5, 2013

La Pastorale: a Dreamy Walk to Mirror Lake

Date: June 17, 2013
Place: Mirror Lake, Yosemite National Park, California
Trailhead coordinates: 37.7394, -119.5601
Length: from the shuttle stop in and out, about two miles.
Difficulty: easy

After the strenuous hike to Vernal Fall and a long lunch break we were ready for some more hiking. Easy hiking.
Mirror Lake is one of the most popular trails in Yosemite. It is relatively short and without any significant elevation change, and it leads a most spectacular place. All these make it suitable for families, lay hikers and anyone looking for a pastoral stroll.
Most of the walk is, in fact, on a paved road, on which only handicapped vehicles are allowed. Bikes, though, are in popular use there (though not all the way to the lake). We took the shuttle to the trailhead and continued walking from there.
Tenaya River
The Tenaya, much smaller than the Merced, is a very pretty river, and after coming out of the the Canyon into the valley floor is is flowing mildly through the reddish-hued granite.
Tenaya River
Just before the confluence with the Merced, the Tenaya river flows under one of Yosemite's signature landmarks: the Half Dome rock. The summit of Half Dome, 4,737 ft above the valley floor, is a very popular destination. There are two ways to ascend it: one is through a long hiking trail that goes by the top of Vernal Fall. The other is by climbing the sheer rock face.
Each time I visit Yosemite I look at Half Dome longingly. I have not ascended it yet. But when I will, (and I will!) it will by hiking.
Half Dome, a view from the trail to Mirror Lake
There were no climbers that day on Half Dome. At least, non that we could detect.

Tenaya slows down and spreads out under Half Dome. The area of Mirror Lake used to be part of a larger lake, and is now in the process of filling up with silt and, basically, becoming a meadow. In its earlier days, the park management was trying to keep Mirror Lake a lake by removing the silt. Later it was decided to let the natural process to go unhindered. Future generations may know Mirror Lake from photos only.
It still fits its name perfectly, though. Very tranquil, very clear, Mirror Lake indeed mirrors a perfect reflection of its surroundings. 
Mirror Lake
And ... there is also the meadow.
The growing meadow by Mirror Lake
And in the meadow: deer. Bold and nonchalant. They came very close, very convenient to photograph.
Mule Deer
Always present in Yosemite, the crowds. Actually, it wasn't that bad. Still, there were quite a few people there. Many were wading to and fro in the water as did I. As did the deer, completely unhindered by the massive human presence.
Deer in the water
Then one of them voided just a few yards from me. Although I was standing upstream I duly stepped out of the water.
After a minute or two, so did the deer.

It was a really nice and easy hike to one amazing, must see!, part of Yosemite. Although I've been there numerous times before, I can never have enough.


  1. We did go in this trail - it is very nice, but I don't remember the reflection....
    The deer you saw are lovely! ! And so close by! ! Wonderful!

    1. Thank you! Any wildlife encounter is exciting to me, even if they are completely habituated on humans.

  2. Been there :-) I think it was much drier then (July)
    very nice place indeed.

    I remember reading that at least part of the slit problem was caused by men - people in the 19th century built a dam there to "help the lake" and it caused damages

    The deer are wonderful.

    Good luck ascending the half dome!

    1. Thank you Moti, I didn't know that part about the dam, just that they tried to dig the silt out. Yosemite has been experimental ground fro many unfortunate human practices that were done with good intentions but caused damage. Now the policy is least interference.
      And Half Dome will have to wait for a while longer: the chikas are too young for this still and I don't see myself going there without them yet (they are also too young to be left behind ... )

  3. Wonderful park.
    I was there twice, but we didn't find that much water.
    Great pics! Thanks :-)

    1. Thank you! Next time, try to get there in spring. The water flow then is the strongest.