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THE SENTINEL DOME.

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tinel Dome.' The Dome is 8,500 feet above the sea level, and we have approached it from the south by a gradual rise from Clark's Ranch' of 4,000 ft. But on the north side this gradual slope is exchanged for a steep descent of 1,500 ft. down to the Sentinel Rock, and then to a sheer fall of 3,000 ft. down into the Yo-semité Valley. So that, as we stand on the Dome, the wonderful chasm which forms the valley lies in all its depth and abruptness almost at our feet.

The valley runs nearly due east and west; it is eight or nine miles in length and from one to two in width. Its granite walls on the north side stand up before us in all their sheer abruptness—from El Capitan, a magnificent mass of bare white granite, rising 3,300 ft. above its western entrance, to the North Dome, 200 ft. higher, but not so precipitous, at its head or eastern end. Right opposite to us, tumbling down over this northern wall of the valley, is the Yo-semité Fall, which, when full of snow water in the early summer, is a white mass of foam making a sheer fall of 1,600 ft., the highest known waterfall in the world : in this month of July it is shrunk much from its full size, and looks like a long and narrow cambric veil shaken down over the precipice, waved to and fro by the wind, and catching here and there the projecting points of rock. Over the western end of the valley, on the same side as that on which we are standing, towers the giant form of Tis-sa-ack, whose name has been civilised’into that of South Dome'-a gray mass of granite with a huge precipice for its northern face, and rounded off into a steep bare slope on every other side. Its summit is 4,700 ft. above the valley; and now that the Matterhorn has been scaled, we can recommend it to the notice of the Alpine Club, for human foot has never yet scaled its steepy sides.

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From the Sentinel Dome a trail leads eastward, for a mile or more, down through the forest to the Glacier Rock, 1,200 ft. below. Brace up your nerves and step cautiously as you approach this edge of the valley's southern wall; for, as you stand on the brink, and put your hanů into a holding-place in a rock beside you, and lean over, there is nothing between you and the green bottom of the valley but an abysmal depth of 3,200 ft. If you have a weak head you cannot look at all, and even if you have a strong one you cannot probably look down this tremendous precipice for many minutes without flinching. Winding through the middle of the valley, far down below you, is the stream of the Merced, looking like a mere spider's thread; on either side of it are tall spruces and pines dwarfed apparently to mere bushes; in the middle of an open space is a square garden, crossed and recrossed by rows of currant-bushes—it looks like a small chess-board.

Stand back and throw a stone over the precipice, and you must wait many seconds before you faintly hear it strike the rock; and yet it has not gone the whole way down into the valley; for, though, as you look down, the precipice appears vertical, it is not absolutely so for more than 2,000 ft. ; a very slight slope outwards below that depth brings its actual base to about 100 yards in front of where you stand. Hanging over the very edge of this great precipice, the Glacier Rock (which, by the bye, is so named from their being evident traces of glacial action upon it) commands a full view of the upper two-thirds

of the main valley, and, being placed just at the corner where a branch valley unites with the main one, it looks up the whole length of this ‘South Cañon' also. The South Cañon is not walled in by such sheer precipices as the main Yo-semité, but at its upper end are two

THE GLACIER ROCK.

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beautiful objects, visible from where we stand—the Nevada Fall, a fine curved band of foam thrown over a wall of rock 700 ft. in height, and the Py-wy-ack, or crystal water, a broad straight fall of half that height. On either side of the South Cañon, and stretching away behind and above it, are the rolling rocky slopes of the Sierra Nevada, dotted with pine-trees which grow scantier as the slopes reach a higher altitude, and ending in the bare central peaks with their ragged outline and their glistening snow-patches.

But the deep view sheer down the white cliff into the green Yo-semité, and across to the northern wall of precipices, is the wonderful feature of the scene; and vhen looked upon in a subdued light, when the western sun casts broad bands of shadows up the valley and upon the great white faces of rock, tempering their mid-day glare, the scene is not only grand and unique but beautiful as well.

There is no access to the valley from either its southern or northern sides, and we must retrace our steps to the Half-way House, and take a more northerly 'trail, in order to enter it by its lower, or western, end. Another ride of an hour and a half through stately forests and smiling glades brings us of a sudden to a point almost immediately over the foot of the valley, from whence so fine a view is had through the entrance of the valley up almost its entire length, that it has been deemed necessary in California to give it a long name and call it ‘Inspiration Point.'

Standing on the rock at the extremity of the point, we look across at the huge side of El Capitan—a magnificent buttress of bare granite, 3,000 ft. in height, and as many in breadth-standing out across the entrance to the valley.

Almost at the foot of its sheer face is the river, 2,000 ft.

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below us, winding out from the green fields and darker woods which share the level ground of the valley between them, and hurrying into the steep and rocky gorge which conducts it away from its mountain home to the heated plains below. Looking up the valley, a succession of tall precipices tower up on either side of the vista, and in the distance, beyond where the upper end of the valley is lost behind a projecting rocky bastion, is the main ridge of the Sierra running north and south across the view.

We have now the subdued light which we wished for at the Glacier Rock, for the sun is rapidly sinking in the west. The outer face of El Capitan is white and almost glaring, but a broad dark band of shadow stretches from him far up the valley to the eastward : the lofty walls on either side are scarved with alternate sunlight and shade: in the sombre stillness at their feet lies the valley itself, with its patches of green pasture and its groups of tall dark spruces, threaded by the winding river: you may almost imagine you are looking on a real Happy Valley, created for some superior beings, and hedged in by inaccessible walls from all the outer world.

A steep and rough 'trail'leads from Inspiration Point down to the bottom of the valley below: then a ride of five miles, past the towering rampart of El Capitan, and along the level valley, through the avenue of granite pinnacles and precipices, of which each one, as we pass under it, looks higher than the rest, brings us in the dusk to one of the three inns which already have been run up' in this remote spot. The season’ here is short, for the valley is at an altitude of 4,000 ft. above the sea ; and although, from the shelter of its giant walls, it escapes many of the storms that rage above it, and enjoys many a hot and quiet summer's day, the “trails' leading into it, passing over heights of 6,000 and 7,000 ft., are seldom free from snow for more than four months in the year.

THE YO-SEMITÉ VALLEY.

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But to make up for the shortness of the season, the innbills are constructed of a tolerable length, and perhaps the traveller will regret that one of the last impressions made on him in the valley is produced by the fact that his beer has cost him 3s. per pint bottle, and his shirts 2s. each for washing. The former charge he may learn to look at as not unreasonable, when he considers the distance from which the precious liquid has to be brought: as to the latter, from the appearance of many of the inhabitants of this and other parts of California, he may be tempted to conclude that washing is dear in the State by reason of its rarity.

But who pays much heed to hotel-bills in the midst of such scenes as make up this matchless valley? We may spend a week within its limits, exploring, without exhausting, its various deep recesses, and its rival scenes of grandeur. In distance, indeed, its different points are but a short space from each other; but to climb to the foot of one of its great waterfalls, or to penetrate to the heads of its branch cañons, often involves slow riding and rough, steep, walking.

When we have explored it more or less thoroughly, the impression left upon us is that in the grandeur of its precipices, and in the number, height, and beauty of its waterfalls, the Yo-semité is unrivalled by any valley of a similar size in the world. Precipices, varying in height from 2,000 to 4,500 ft., wall it in almost completely; and within a radius of five miles it contains six waterfalls, whose average height is 750 ft. Even apart from the surpassing height of its cliffs and its cascades, the great beauty of its scenery is undeniable. As we move along its level bottom, among the tall and graceful pines and spruces which grow to such perfection in its fostering shelter, or through the copses of oak and hazel, and the

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