Yosemite Valley as seen from above -- one of the most beautiful, sublime, and ethereal places on Earth. It seems immortal, a place that has always been and will always be -- although that is Mother Nature's little joke. The valley has only recently come into being, geologically speaking, and has been changing ever since.
The mountains, the Sierra Nevada, are granite, solidified underground from molten lava and later exposed through erosion. Yosemite Valley was originally cut by the Merced River into a "V" shape. The river ended up at what was then the bottom of the valley. Glaciers subsequently filled the valley -- so deep they almost reached the top of Half Dome. When they retreated, they left the typical glacially-carved "U" shape, the shape that we see today. Scrapings and polishings from the glaciers can be seen everywhere you look, and erratic rocks dropped by the glaciers, some balanced precariously, are testimony to the relatively recent and powerful ability of glaciers to reinvent the landscape.
Here is Half Dome in profile, as seen from Washburn Point. Those who climb to the top use cables embedded in the rock on the far side. So many people want to make the demanding trek that the Park Service now limits the number of weekend climbers to 400 a day. Half Dome is not a broken "full dome" -- geologists tell us that it formed just as it is today.
When we got to Glacier Point, a little further down the road from Washburn Point, we found a wedding about to happen! We were there on 10/10/10, and the Mother-of-the-Groom told us Yosemite was hosting 10 weddings in various parts of the park in honor of the unusual palindromic date.
Here are John and I at Washburn Point, the photo taken by a wonderful Australian couple we met there. If you're reading this, "thanks!" and have a wonderful rest of your stay in the U.S.!