Happy Wanderer: Yosemite offers classic holidays ambience Archetypal winter images abound at Mariposa Grove in the Sierra


Courtesy of Tenaya Lodge

EASTBAYTIMES.COM: December 7, 2018

It’s early December and the search has begun for the picture-perfect, Currier-and-Ives holiday experience. You know the scene — the horse-drawn sleigh gliding through snow-covered meadows, the mirrored skating pond and the pines draped in twinkling lights. John Muir knew where to find the magic. It’s still here today — in Yosemite.

As I pen this, more than 500 giant Sequoias are stretching their snow-dusted limbs toward a sky swirled with marshmallow clouds. In the Sierra Nevada mountains, Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove is seeing its first mitten-clad visitors since a three-year restoration. Most would agree that she wears winter well.

My daughter and I hike a trail that leads to a massive, hollowed out Sequoia — one of dozens of selfie spots, courtesy of a lightning strike. Nearby, a snowshoe-clad family stares at a harem of trees called The Bachelor and the Three Graces. Two cross country skiers glide past, whispering in reverence about the intertwined trees known as Faithful Couple. Everywhere you go, there is nature’s eye-candy. Like icicles, no two trees are alike.

The theme continues, as we return to our inn at the nearby Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite. There’s a towering tree in the lobby — the largest Christmas tree in Central California. Muir would have smiled — as no conifer died for this holiday display. Rather, the bobble-bedecked beauty is the top of a Douglas Fir that’s still growing happily in the forest.

It is rumored that Santa lives here at the Tenaya Lodge. I’ve seen him, interacting with kids in the gingerbread house workshops. I’ve spied his elves baking cookies for guests to decorate with red candy buttons and sprinkles. And I swear I saw Blitzen watching outside, as rosy-cheeked skaters took a break from the rink to roast marshmallows for warm, gooey s’mores.

Tenaya Lodge is a happy place in winter because of a commitment to holiday magic. I’ve never made ornaments, but I’m making them here. And I’m learning the art of icing and how to use it as spackle for a gingerbread castle. All around me, indoors and out, are wide smiles and eyes full of wonder for what nature — and man — have created.


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