From the top of Sentinel Dome one has a magnificent 360° panoramic view over El Capitan, Half Dome, Yosemite valley and the rest of the park.
Margaret and François had departed from Palo Alto in the wee hours of the night to be at Yosemite park by mid-morning.
Now, after a ninety minute hike, they were eating a picnic lunch near Jeffrey pine, overseeing the park from a vantage point 8100 feet high.
Margaret: It would have been nice if Angela and Werner had come as planned. Why do you think they called it off at the last minute?
François: Werner must have been afraid, said François his mouth full, that there would not be enough to eat.
F.: More seriously, considering that he weighs over two hundred and fifty pounds, he probably had misgivings, reckoning that he would not be much of a mountain climber. And, if I may add, Angela seems to me more like a city girl than a country one.
Margaret rummaged through her rucksack for another tuna fish sandwich and unwrapped it for her boyfriend. She poured herself tea from the thermos bottle.
M.: If you stand up, I will take a picture of you like the famous one of Roosevelt here.
F.: Roosevelt? That ought to be before he was in a wheelchair!
M.: I'm not talking about President Franklin Roosevelt but about President Theodore Roosevelt, who came here around the turn of last century at the invitation of John Muir, a writer and early environmentalist who worked on protecting areas of wilderness in California.
The picture done, François, intoxicated by the fresh air at this altitude, decided to take a nap. Maggie rested her back against a rock, and let herself cozily slid into daydreaming.
The valley of Yosemite, that is the part of the park opened to the public, is only a small section of the whole. The rest is a wildlife preserve forbidden to trekkers.
The Yosemite Grant Act creating the park was signed by President Abraham Lincoln on June 30, 1864. The federal administration of national parks didn't exist yet. That is why the first official national park in the U.S. is Yellowstone established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872. But Yosemite was a forerunner eight years ahead.
M.: Shall we go down, darling, and find a place to camp tonight?
They began the descent. Margaret was skipping as if out of reach of gravity.
François thought that his girlfriend, usually dressed up to the nines, was cute with her mountain gear, thick mid-calf woolen socks and hiking boots.
Near a lake, under oak trees, they found a clearing in the midst of chaparral schrubs and decided to install their tent there.
M.: I hope we won't be bothered by bears.
F.: Don't worry, Maggie, in this country you can bear arms, but you can't arm bears!
M.: You're funny my dear! And I appreciate your budding mastery of English. But bears can be harmful, though I suppose not here.
M.: Let's make sure, however, that we throw our trash in the bins supplied by park rangers to that effect. And tonight we should not leave our bags outside the tent either.
F.: Can't we also tie them to a high branch?
M.: I would not be too sure. Cubs climb trees and they are as clever as your cats.
After dinner, they zipped their two sleeping bags into a double one, and slept like logs.
In the morning, François and Margaret went for a swim in the lake in their birthday suits.
Later in the day they paid a must visit to the giant sequoias in Mariposa grove, and it was time to go home.