Lafayette Houghton Bunnell, of the Mariposa Battalion, reported his first view of the Yosemite Valley , 27 March 1851 with these words:  

None but those who have visited this most wonderful valley can even imagine the feelings with which I looked upon the view that was there presented.  The grandeur of the scene was but softened by the haze that hung over the valley – light as gossamer – and by the clouds which partially dimmed the higher cliffs and mountains.  This obscurity of vision but increased the awe with which I beheld it, and as I looked, a peculiar exalted sensation seemed to fill my whole being, and I found my eyes in tears with emotion.


During many subsequent visits to this locality, this sensation was never again so fully aroused.  It is probable that the shadows fast clothing all before me, and the vapory clouds at the head of the valley, leaving the view beyond still undefined, gave a weirdness to the scene, that made it so impressive; and the conviction that it was utterly indescribable added strength to the emotion.  It is not possible for the same intensity of feeling to be aroused more than once by the same object, although I never looked upon these scenes except with wonder and admiration.  (Discovery of the Yosemite )

           From Bunnell’s vantage point at Old Inspiration Point, slightly higher than this photograph, he discovered a Valley filled with light and wonder much the same way John Muir found the whole Sierra Nevada, and Yosemite, the heart of the Sierra, 17 years later.  “Then it seemed to me the Sierra should be called not the Nevada or Snowy Range , but the Range of Light .  And after ten years spent in the heart of it, rejoicing and wondering, bathing in the glorious floods of light, seeing the sunbursts of morning among the icy peaks, the noonday radiance on the trees and rocks and snow, the flush of the alpenglow, and a thousand dashing waterfalls with their marvelous abundance of irised spray, it still seems to me above all others the Range of Light, the most divinely beautiful of all the mountain chains I have ever seen.”  (John Muir)  

Steve Roper prefaced the 1971 “Green Guidebook” with a Mike Borghoff pronouncement that speaks to the soul of all those who are drawn to Yosemite’s walls:  “Look well about you, wanderer!  There is but one Yosemite on the face of the earth, and through the myriad moods, the shifting cyclic patterns, will always sound the chord of this, your need:  simple joy and certitude, the face of life itself.”

MORNING LIGHT, Yosemite Valley, from the highway 41 turnout, Yosemite National Park, California, August 2001.