Mirror Lake, lying at the base of Half Dome and in the mouth of Te-na-ya Canyon, is one of the real show
places of the Valley. A trip there is one of the most satisfying and wholly delightful of the entire itinerary of Yosemite. To see the lake at its best, when the reflections are clearest and the mirror upon its quiet bosom is most nearly perfect, this trip should be made before sunrise. At first sight the lake, owing to its small size, is slightly disappointing, but this is soon lost sight of and forgotten in admiration for the intrinsic loveliness of its setting. To have witnessed a sunrise at Mirror Lake is to have seen one of the most incomparably lovely sights the world has to offer. In the distance on the right stands Clouds Rest, its top scraping the blue six thousand feet above the lake, while close at hand, towering up nearly five: thousand feet, the lofty over-shadowing wall of Half Dome rears its imposing bulk, and casts its mile long reflection in the mirror. On the other hand Mount Watkins throws its four thousand foot image, presenting thus eight thousand feet of grandeur to our gaze.
Contrary to the general belief the reflections in Mirror Lake are not due to any great depth of water, the lake in reality being very shallow, nor to its black sand bottom, but are caused by the shadows thrown across the lake by the surrounding cliffs. And so perfectly does the water mirror its surroundings that it is difficult at times to tell where mountain stops and water line begins. Another reason for making Mirror Lake the object of an early morning visit is that a breeze usually springs up during the middle of the day, ruffling the surface of the water, and rendering the reflections indistinct or invisible.
The lake is slowly being filled by the silt and decomposed granite washed down by the waters of Te-na-ya Creek, and probably in the course of fifty or seventy-five years, unless some preventive measures are taken, will be completely filled. However, here is a spot of unequalled charm, without a counterpart on earth yet seen by man, and to have visited Yosemite without having seen at least one sunrise in this beautiful little lake, which the Indians of the region have so picturesquely named Ah-wei-ya, meaning "quiet water," is to have missed the real soul of Yosemite.