Yosemite

Wow!  Our eldest son was married at Rush Creek Lodge just outside of the park's edge because he wanted to share the beauty of the Park that he had fallen in love with (along with his new wife).  No wonder they love it.  Adjectives I'd use to describe it include gorgeous, jaw-dropping, amazing, stunning... The vistas were so expansive that photos just can't do them justice.  

We hiked up the Mist Trail and back down the John Muir Trail which totaled 8 miles, and included elevation gain of 3000 feet!  Ouch.  To the top of Vernal Falls, we gained 1000 feet including 600 granite steps.  This was a brutal push continually upward, unfortunately along with a crowd of people.  The steps were slippery due to the namesake "mist" from the falls, but our trusty hiking boots didn't fail us.  

Vernal Falls

Vernal Falls

Back down the valley where we'd just come (note the rainbow)

Back down the valley where we'd just come (note the rainbow)

Nevada Falls

Nevada Falls

Then - onward and upward - ANOTHER 2000 feet up to the top of Nevada Falls.  O.M.G.  Near the end of the trail to the top, I was stopping every "flight" of steps or so, to pant and let my heart rate slow down to "just" racing.  I kept thinking "this isn't even close to what it'll be like to hike to Machu Picchu at 10,000+ feet altitude".  I came to resent the 10 lb pack I was carrying for my camera, telephoto lens, and water.

Once we were on "top of the world" (!), all the sweat, screaming muscles and panting were quickly forgotten as the mind boggling views opened up before us.  The top of Nevada Falls was unbelievably narrow.  The pictures we got of the falls as we walked away down the John Muir Trail revealed the magnitude of what we'd done and where we'd been.

Nevada Falls, Liberty Cap (behind us) and Half Dome

Nevada Falls, Liberty Cap (behind us) and Half Dome