For hikers, Yosemite National Park rewards originality

If Yosemite Valley bisects the park, the Mariposa Grove takes you on a steep jog to the south and east. Not far (which, in Yosemite, is a relative term) from Mariposa is Glacier Point, which wins the distinction of being the easiest of the Easy Day Hikes in “Best Easy Day Hikes: Yosemite National Park.” A short jog from there is Sheldon Dome, which lands squarely in the middle of the two dozen easy hikes.

There is a brand-spanking-new Visitor Center at Mariposa Grove. The area had been closed for several years while renovations were done, including the creation of this spot, where cars are parked and shuttle buses boarded to limit the pollution that could damage the mammoth and ancient specimens. The grove is spectacular, and a newly added boardwalk makes it easy for young and old to navigate a small portion of the site.

There is something profound about nothing more than the gentle crunch of pine needles under your feet, the abandon to ponder the monogamy of anthropomorphized trees, to smell — despite the remnants of fire — the unbridled freshness of air into which trees are breathing life. And to be, less than a mile from the shuttle stop, so surprisingly alone in this sacred place.

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