Randy’s Waypoints blog recounts his most recent foray to Yosemite at one of the best times to go: in mid-May when the water’s really running.
From his Half Dome ascent:
Up on top there was still some snow hanging around, and people were sunbathing on the rocks. The 360 degree panoramic views are not to be matched from any point in the valley. Looking down on North Dome, it looks diminutive in comparison. The perspective is completely different up here. The cool high country breeze is like a gift from the mountain gods making the subtle sunlight deceiving in its intensity. The snowy high peaks seem to be whispering on the wind, and the air smells so clean as to be indescribable. The valley sprawling out below looks almost uninhabited from this far up.
Randy also checked out the Four-Mile Trail.
The trail tread is very rocky, and has remnants of old paving, and quite a bit of erosion damage. Many of the trails in Yosemite have this quality to them. Cobbled together with rocks, very uneven, and hard on the feet. Many switchbacks take you higher above the valley floor and soon the view possibilities begin to open up. The higher you get the better the views. As you switch back to the west the views are of El Capitan, Cathedral Rocks, and the west end of the valley with the river meandering through groves of mixed confers and green meadows. Switch back to the east and Yosemite falls dominate your vision. Really the best available views of this fall are had from this trail, with all 3 distinct fall sections revealing themselves, and the slow rolling sonic rumble pulsing outward. The spray has the visual effect of making the falls look in slow motion. The rocky “benches” thick with vegetation, loved by John Muir, providing a stepped pedestal like some kind of altar.
From his first post describing the trip:
The time always goes too fast when I go to the Sierras. It’s a bit of a shock to come back to the anthill and return to work after sleeping like a baby every night in the mountain air. Maybe I should have been born a hillbilly.
Randy’s been to all these sites a bunch of times; the take-away for local trails is the same — there’s always something new on a trail because you’re never the same hiker each time you go.