Mist Trail

On Monday Tammy and I hiked Mist Trail. The loop we hiked was about 5 miles total distance (I think), the first half of which follows the Merced River up to Vernal Falls. The Merced River is full from snow melt, so it is a raging torrent.

Merced River

In the distance, we would occasionally catch a glimpse of some distant waterfall, whose water would eventually join the Merced River.

Distant Waterfall

When we finally caught a glimpse of Vernal Falls, we felt like we were nearing the end of our hike. We were wrong - the adventure was just getting started.

Looking Towards Vernal Falls

As you approach Vernal Falls on Mist Trail, the trail turns into a staircase - steps carved out of granite. And the trail name comes from the fact that you will get a shower on the way up from all the mist. We wore raincoats to keep ourselves and our cameras dry.

Mist Trail near Vernal Falls

Mist Trail near Vernal Falls

Near the very top, you get a nice sideways view of the falls.

Vernal Falls

And then you get to conquer the last few steps. Heights stress me out, so my trip up the mist drenched granite steps to this point was mostly staring at the steps in front of me, and putting one foot in front of the other. I would occasionally stop to check on Tammy, convince myself yet again that I was not going to slip over the edge, catch my breath, and then resume the trek up. The last few steps to the top required a little extra mental preparation. Here is a photo looking back on those steps.

The Last Few Steps

Here is a view from the top, showing the raging river, and distant section of the trail. If you look closely at the top of this next photo, you will see an even more distant portion of the trail, where it crosses the river via a bridge.

Looking Back from Vernal Falls

Beyond Vernal Falls, the trail continues up towards another set of falls - Nevada Falls. We took another trail that led us back to the valley floor (different from the route up) instead of climbing all the way to the top of Nevada Falls, but got a couple good views of those falls. And then one last look back towards Yosemite Valley before we descended.

Nevada Falls

Nevada Falls

Looking Towards Yosemite Valley

Sentinel Dome

A mere four weeks after my trip to Corpus Christi, I am on yet another trip. This trip is to Yosemite National Park, and is a week's vacation wrapped around a very important occasion: a marriage ceremony. To be more specific: last fall, Tammy and I decided to tie the knot, and we thought it would be cool to get married in Yosemite. We officially get married on Wednesday, but in the mean time, we are both really enjoying the astounding vistas that are to be found here.

One of the first places we decided to visit within the park is Sentinel Dome. A short trail gets you on top of what is literally a dome shaped chunk of rock, 8122 feet above sea level, with 360 degree views all around. You can peer down into Yosemite valley and see famous Yosemite sights such as El Capitan, Yosemite Falls and Half Dome. My fear of heights kept me from the edge (and the associated very long drop), but even from the "center" of the dome, there was no really shortage of photos to be taken. Here are a few from the bunch.

First, here are a couple of photos of distant Yosemite falls. They were on the other side of the valley, and you could still hear their dull roar.

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls

This view includes El Capitan - the large vertical face of rock on the right.

El Capitan

The final view shows snow capped mountains in the distance, and Half Dome in the foreground (towards the right).

View from Sentinel Dome

Least Grebe

Over the past couple of weeks I have been slowly working my way through all of the photos that I took in Corpus Christi. I took just over 2000 photos on that trip, but based on past experience, most of those will never see the light of a public Flickr page or blog post. The process I follow, however, is slowly starting to generate public photos. Kind of like making coffee...the happy results are starting to drip through the filter.

Strangely, I have not taken a linear approach when considering all the pictures I took. Instead, it appears that I am taking a path of least resistance. I took pictures of a Reddish Egret on multiple days, so there are a lot more candidate photos to consider, and those will come out later. The Least Grebe, however, was in my sights only for a brief time on just one day. Consequently, there are proportionately fewer photos of the Least Grebe, and public worthy pair of photos are effectively the first drops of goodness to fall through my filter.

Least Grebe was a life bird for me. And they are cute beyond measure. Tiny, energetic, noisy things, they were pairing up in anticipation of nesting and all things spring. There must have been a dozen pairs at the fantastic Pollywog Ponds (CTC77 on the Corpus Christi Bay Loop of the Central Texas Coast Wildlife Trail). The morning light was dim, and they were actively diving for food, but I still managed to get these two shots from a not-very-short distance, shooting through the tall grass that lined the edge of the ponds.

Least Grebe

Least Grebe

Close Encounters of the Critter Kind

I came home from work today as usual - the end of the work week, thinking about plans for this weekend. I entered the house with the day's mail in one hand, and my backpack in the other, said hello to the cat waiting just inside, and proceeded into my kitchen. The mail had just been placed onto my kitchen table when I noticed something odd. There was definitely something different, and it only took me a few seconds to realize that I was the victim of a crime: breaking and entering.

My kitchen table is right next to a pair of windows, and while the windows were locked, they were also open a couple of inches. My windows have tabs you can extend on the inside that will prevent them from being opened any more than those few inches, and there is a screen on the outside to keep insects out. I stepped outside to inspect the screen, and found clear evidence of forced entry.

Breaking and Entering

I also noted that the screen was folded towards the interior of the house. Something went through the screen, from outside to inside. Did it exit the same way?

Inside the house, the evidence mounted. On my kitchen table is a fruit bowl, with an apple and two bananas. Tempting fare, it appears, because one of the bananas was showing obvious signs of tampering.

Scene of the Crime

This is where the trail went cold. I poked around the house a bit, looking for more evidence, but found none. The cat was his typical dopey self, following me about as if he was waiting for me to settle down into some pose suitable for him to use as a bed. Or maybe, now that I think about it, he was gloating. To us humans, dopey cats look the same as gloating cats, so I will never really know.

With the thought that the perpetrator might still be lurking somewhere, I set about to clean things up. Fast forward about an hour, and Tammy has arrived. She is on the couch in front of the TV, and I am in the kitchen, when I hear her say (with a slightly worried tone) "Um...Todd? The cat just looked under the TV stand in a weird way."

I crouched down and looked under the TV stand...it is dark under there...gads, look at the cat hair...need to vacuum...whoa, something moved! I had found my critter criminal - an Eastern Gray Squirrel. Tammy and I quickly put a plan in action: remove one cat, add two large pieces of fabric, mix in one wide open front door, and then let the hunt begin. Just a bit of coaxing later, the criminal bolted from under the TV stand, running away from my large piece of fabric, veering right to avoid Tammy's large piece of fabric, skidding across the tile in front of the door, and leaping to freedom.

Here is a photo, hastily taken after the successful hunt, to give you an idea of the setup. Tammy seems to be enjoying herself.

The Getaway