What a difference a month makes

We often struggle with picking where to go on our holidays. Holiday time is so precious and if you don’t get that many days off, you have to make the most of them when you do. So we usually spend ages looking at where to go and what to see when we get there.

Often the ‘when’ of our trips can be pretty set in advance – usually when the flight prices are cheaper or working around particular seasons (e.g. avoiding rainy seasons). One thing that it’s easy to forget to consider is the differences that a couple of weeks can make to your experience of a destination.

A good example of this is our trip to Mirror Lake in Yosemite. We’ve been there on a couple of occasions but the last time we visited, we went slightly earlier in the year – there wasn’t too much of a difference, we are talking a visit in early June rather than late July. The difference in scenery, however, was astounding.

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This is Wandering Beeb’s photo of Mirror Lake, or more accurately, Mirror Meadow on our first trip. Green lush grass and trees with lots of boulders and sand filled the valley.

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The visit in late July saw stunning scenery, the centre of which was a field, surrounded by Yosemite’s recognisable granite cliffs. It was a lush setting, with huge boulders dotted throughout the area and sand drifts marking the uneven ground. Mirror Lake (or Mirror Meadow as it’s sometimes known due to the lack of water) is around a 1-3 hour round-trip, starting at shuttle stop number 17. The lake is a hangover from the glacial lake which once filled most of Yosemite Valley, standing at 4000ft elevation. Standing in the middle of the meadow, the cliffs surrounded us, building cut-outs in the blue sky.

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Jumping forward to our visit to the same spot in early June a couple of years later and the place was unrecognisable in comparison! The same granite cliff faces surrounded us but this time, there was no meadow to stand in. Instead we stood on the edge of a serene lake, silent and glass-like. It was hard to believe that the small number of weeks had made such a difference.

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Mirror Lake in early June – the water was full and still, creating the perfect reflection. We has stood here a few years earlier in the July when it was a dry meadow.

The still lake reflecting the granite cliffs. It was dizzying to look down on the reflection without seeing any disturbance in the water.

The trail around the lake is a really nice walk, lined with little cairns. These piles of balanced rock had filled one part of the trail, creating an interesting spectacle. Cairns have been used throughout history for a range of different reasons, often marking buried resources, graves or trailheads. The ones at Mirror Lake don’t seem to serve this purpose and raise an interesting debate on how people view them. Some say they see them as a temporary art piece, an example of humans making their mark in an environmentally friendly(ish) way. Others say they are a form of graffiti, disrupting natural placement of stones and making a mark on nature that shouldn’t be there. Little stone cairns dotted around the trail at Mirror Lake in Yosemite. Historically used to make trail heads, resources or burial sites, these ones don’t seem to hold any purpose. Some say these are an eyesore, a type of graffiti, others see them as temporary art work.

Little stone cairns dotted around the trail at Mirror Lake in Yosemite. Historically used to make trail heads, resources or burial sites, these ones don’t seem to hold any purpose. Some say these are an eyesore, a type of graffiti, others see them as temporary art work.

Much less organised than the cairns were the huge rocks dotted around the lake. Standing on one of the larger boulders, the stillness of the water perfectly reflected Half Dome and we quickly set down our day packs to whip out our cameras to capture the image. The dual image of the rocks above us and their inverted view below was dizzying but beautiful, the images we captured failing to do it justice.

Wandering Beeb at Mirror Lake, silhouetted against the huge granite cliffs of Yosemite.

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Have you been to Mirror Lake? When is the best time of year to visit? What’s your take on the cairns – are they temporary art or graffiti?

3 thoughts on “What a difference a month makes

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