1. If you’re like me, you love Yosemite and want to take in all the sites you can in however much time you have in the park. And if you’re like me, you’re fat, have a bad back, can’t walk too far and use these as excuses for your inherent laziness. Never fear, for the fat man can help you to get around without any bothersome overtaxing of the legs.


    The Big Trees

    The Giant Sequoias are one of Yosemite’s biggest attractions, and by that I don’t mean that the trees are humongous (they are, of course, being the biggest living things on Earth), but that they draw a large number of tourists. The Merced and Tuolumne Groves are both located near Crane Flat, not far from the valley, but you’ll have to hike in about a mile to see either one. Fortunately, Mariposa Grove’s parking lot is directly flanking the grove, is wheelchair accessible and a very easy walk; it’s also the largest of the three groves, so this is the place to go to see plenty of enormous trees. The only drawback is that it’s beside the park’s south entrance, near Wawona, so if you’re staying anywhere in Yosemite other than in Wawona, you’ll have to drive a while to get there, but who cares? It’s Yosemite, after all, and every drive is a beautiful drive.


    View of the Rocks From the Rocks

    Glacier Point and Washburn Point are both near their respective parking lots, though you’ll have to hike about a quarter mile from the parking lot to reach the valley overlook of Glacier Point. Both sites offer spectacular views of Half Dome, Nevada Falls and Vernal Falls. At Glacier Point, you can take in a view of most of the valley, and if you spit outward far enough, you might hit one of the tent cabins at Camp Curry, 3,000 feet below. Located at the end of Glacier Point Road, you’ll be in the car for quite some time to reach these spots unless you camp at Bridalveil Creek Campground. 


    Sentinel Dome is also on Glacier Point Road, about halfway between Bridalveil Creek Campground and Glacier Point. While this is perhaps a shorter walk than the one from Glacier Point’s parking lot to the valley overlook, it’s understandably uphill all the way, because you have to climb atop the dome itself for the full experience. Here, you will enjoy another great view of the valley, but you will also find the famous Jeffrey Pine, which, at the time of its death due to drought back in 1976, was thought to be the oldest living thing on Earth, over 3,000 years in age. To get a good view of this ancient wonder, find, build or steal a time machine and transport yourself back in time several decades. The photo above is how the tree looked during my many visits between 1977 and 1990; these days, it’s little more than a stump.


    A Stroll Through the Valley

    Mirror Lake is not as easy a walk as it used to be since they closed off the parking lot to all but vehicles with handicapped placards. Still, it’s very flat and if you time your visit right—preferably on a sunny, windless morning—you can still see the valley’s granite walls reflected perfectly on the mirror-like pond (they call it a lake, but once you see it you’ll agree with me that it’s really a pond). You better hurry, though, because the silt steadily depositing on the floor of Mirror Lake is gradually turning it into a meadow.  Already, blades of grass poke up through the water in places.


    Choose Your Waterfall                                                     While Yosemite Falls is the easiest of the hikes because it’s a short walk and the hill is not steep, you really can’t see much of the waterfall from the viewing area at the top of the trail. Better views of the triple falls are available almost everywhere else in the eastern part of the valley, particularly from nearby meadows. However, near the beginning of this trail, you will see the amazing sight above with your own eyes, along with the roar and the billowing cool mists.


     Bridal Veil Falls is only a slightly longer walk, but the grade is considerably steeper, yet it is still wheelchair accessible. The view from the top of the trail is spectacular and sometimes wet, the perfect place to go on a hot summer day (it can get into the nineties in Yosemite Valley in the summer). The more adventurous may leave the viewing area and climb over the huge tumbled boulders right up to the base of the falls, where several crystal clear pools invite swimmers who can stand the icy water. 


     You reach Nevada and Vernal Falls via the Mist Trail; but this is not a walk for the feeble. The walk to the footbridge is not overly strenuous but is over three quarters of a mile in length and not easily accessible by wheelchairs (although it’s possible, as I can attest to, as I went there with my quadriplegic friend some years ago, though I had to muscle the electric wheelchair over a few rough spots and help it up a couple of the steeper hills, and those chairs are heavy!). From the footbridge, standing over the rushing Merced River, you’ll have a great view of Vernal Falls crashing down its entire 317-foot plunge. 


     However, if you want to see Nevada Falls from its base, you’ll have to climb the Mist Trail, which consists of large steps carved out of the rock wall adjacent to Vernal Falls (granite steps partially covered with slick rock moss and constantly moistened by the waterfall, I might add), which was a strenuous hike for me when I was 20 years old.

    Yosemite is filled to the brim with medium to hard hikes that you wouldn’t find me on if a comet were hurtling toward Earth and they were the only escape routes. I’m not knocking such hikes; they’re all fantastic in their own way. It’s just that you rarely see lazy fat men with bad backs strolling along the John Muir Trail.

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