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The Spell Of The Yosemite
by [?]


Yosemite won my heart at once, as it seems to win the hearts of all who visit it. In my case many things helped to do it, but I am sure a robin, the first I had seen since leaving home, did his part. He struck the right note, he brought the scene home to me, he supplied the link of association. There he was, running over the grass or perching on the fence, or singing from a tree-top in the old familiar way. Where the robin is at home, there at home am I. But many other things helped to win my heart to the Yosemite–the whole character of the scene, not only its beauty and sublimity, but the air of peace and protection, and of homelike seclusion that pervades it; the charm of a nook, a retreat, combined with the power and grandeur of nature in her sternest moods.

After passing from the hotel at El Portal along the foaming and roaring Merced River, and amid the tumbled confusion of enormous granite boulders shaken down from the cliffs above, you cross the threshold of the great valley as into some vast house or hall carved out of the mountains, and at once feel the spell of the brooding calm and sheltered seclusion that pervades it. You pass suddenly from the tumultuous, the chaotic, into the ordered, the tranquil, the restful, which seems enhanced by the power and grandeur that encompass them about. You can hardly be prepared for the hush that suddenly falls upon the river and for the gentle rural and sylvan character of much that surrounds you; the peace of the fields, the seclusion of the woods, the privacy of sunny glades, the enchantment of falls and lucid waters, with a touch of human occupancy here and there–all this, set in that enormous granite frame, three or four thousand feet high, ornamented with domes and spires and peaks still higher,–it is all this that wins your heart and fills your imagination in the Yosemite.

As you ride or walk along the winding road up the level valley amid the noble pines and spruces and oaks, and past the groves and bits of meadow and the camps of many tents, and the huge mossy granite boulders here and there reposing in the shade of the trees, with the full, clear, silent river winding through the plain near you, you are all the time aware of those huge vertical walls, their faces scarred and niched, streaked with color, or glistening with moisture, and animated with waterfalls, rising up on either hand, thousands of feet high, not architectural, or like something builded, but like the sides and the four corners of the globe itself. What an impression of mass and of power and of grandeur in repose filters into you as you walk along! El Capitan stands there showing its simple sweeping lines through the trees as you approach, like one of the veritable pillars of the firmament. How long we are nearing it and passing it! It is so colossal that it seems near while it is yet far off. It is so simple that the eye takes in its naked grandeur at a glance. It demands of you a new standard of size which you cannot at once produce. It is as clean and smooth as the flank of a horse, and as poised and calm as a Greek statue. It curves out toward the base as if planted there to resist the pressure of worlds–probably the most majestic single granite column or mountain buttress on the earth. Its summit is over three thousand feet above you. Across the valley, nearly opposite, rise the Cathedral Rocks to nearly the same height, while farther along, beyond El Capitan, the Three Brothers shoulder the sky at about the same dizzy height. Near the head of the great valley, North Dome, perfect in outline as if turned in a lathe, and its brother, the Half Dome (or shall we say half-brother?) across the valley, look down upon Mirror Lake from an altitude of over four thousand feet. These domes suggest enormous granite bubbles if such were possible pushed up from below and retaining their forms through the vast geologic ages. Of course they must have weathered enormously, but as the rock seems to peel off in concentric sheets, their forms are preserved.