The Glorious Yosemite Valley

The Glorious Yosemite Valley, from Glacier Point, California.
We are up near the eastern end of the valley, looking towards Nevada and Idaho and distant Montana. The State of California stretches out behind us and off at our left.

Scientists are not altogether agreed in their explanations of the stupendous splendors of this corner of California, but it is probable that both volcanic and glacial forces had a share in the work. The rocks we see are the primeval stuff which forms the fiery core of the world, now cooled and hardened into crystalline granite. The peculiar shape of the valley--an abrupt gash across the Sierra Nevada range--seems to have been caused by some sudden subsidence of the crust.

We are now nearly 3,200 feet in the dizzy air above where the little Merced River flows through the narrow bottom of the valley. The cliffs on which we are standing drop almost perpendicularly for two-thirds of a mile. Think of that distance in a horizontal direction or some familiar street and then imagine the street set on end.

It looks as if one could, with a good jump, land on the bald pate of Half Dome, though that is more than two miles and a half away, as the crow flies. It was filed and worn down to that shape by the grind of an ice-cap, whose relentless flow wore off a full mile of these lower Sierras. But what paroxysm of Nature what cataclysm, what overwhelming force could have riven it completely in half is one of the problems of nature which will never be solved by the mind of man. On that side fronting the Tenaya Valley, for two thousand feet it is absolutely vertical. Beyond it, to the left, is Clouds' Rest, and to the right, range upon range rises to the skyline of Mount Clark.

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