Millennium Mom

Monday, June 24, 2013

Yosemite Day 1 - The valley, June 20th

After our great trip to Sequoia and Kings Canyon we are very excited to go to Yosemite.  We were a bit nervous when I saw online that there was now a wildfire in the park, but when I asked the Rangers in Yosemite they said it was in the far SW corner, not close at all to the valley (there are only two roads to travel on in Yosemite, and the Valley is the main one).

A bit about the wildfires.  The West is in a major drought right now, and June is producing conditions they normally don't have until August.  They just didn't get the spring rain they normally do, so fires are popping up everywhere.  I am sure you have all seen, heard about the huge one in Colorado Springs, it started a few days after we drove through on our way to National Sand Dunes.  Now Yosemite, which was caused by a campfire embers.  Due to this you are only allowed campfires in metal fire pits in the campgrounds, none in the backcountry, but some people don't listen.

We put our destination into Google Maps and decided to choose route 3.  We were on the road prior heading up to Sequoia and thought we would take it.  For all your Yosemite experts, were we staying off Rt 120, not 41 and would enter up North vs. in the South.  We had a bit of a detour in Fresno trying to find something who could do an oil change on an RV - not easy task at all and we failed (so today we are finally getting one).  We have put over 4,000 miles on it already and need to get it done.  So we head up North, first through Visalia (which was funny to me as that was one of IRI's BehaviorScan markets when I used to work there and run all the tests, and now I am there) and the central valley farms.  They are huge, tons of mega-farms with oranges, plums, peaches, nectarines, grapes and more. 

But then for our last road we turn onto Rt. 49 (I believe, don't have the map in front of me).  Instead of going to the South entrance we have to go North.  First we missed the turn and have a road we have to go on that was like the Mars rover, bumps everywhere.  But we make it to the highway and as my dad said "that was worse than driving the Amalfi coast"....hairpin turns, dropping thousands of feet or climbing in minutes, and just up and down, round and round for about an hour.  NOT FUN!!!  At All.  Arnie was driving (thank god) and it was nerve racking, but we made it to Grovedale the location of our RV park.  We were so exhausted by the trip (as remember my parents are behind us in the rental car, so they had to drive it too and be fearful of us falling off at each turn, as there were NO guardrails), we ran into a grocery store and went to a cafe for dinner, as the thought of cooking was too much.

We did have views of the smoke from the fire, and passed tons of fires trucks leaving (I am guessing to get more supplies, rest), it was very sad.  But thankfully it is contained now.  After a nice dinner we drive another 18 miles closer to the park where Yosemite Lakes RV park was.  It was now dark but we found it and settled in to our full-hookup site, but with horrible cell coverage, again we were in the dark connection wise.

We met great neighbors at this park, a recently retired couple from Vermont who were doing a cross-country trip, they had left May 3rd, with their golden retriever in tow.  Was nice chatting with them and sharing tips.  After breakfast we headed into the park, the gate was 4 miles away, but then you have a 20+ mile trip into the Valley.  The drive was picturesque for sure, among pines and rock cliffs fairly quickly as you enter.  Before you even get into the Valley and visitor center you come across El Capitan, the massive rock cliff that is very intimidating as you come upon it.  You know because suddenly cars and RV's are parked on the sides of the one-way road you travel in on.  Here are some pics of that and Bridalveil falls.

We continued on the Valley road into the visitor center area.  This was the first park where parking and traveling is really an issue.  The Grand Canyon because many people stay at lodges in the park or campgrounds, and their bus system is amazing (and easy to follow) you just don't see cars.  But in Yosemite they were everywhere, and they beg you to park and take the buses to help with pollution, etc which is what we did.  After much looking we found a parking spot and took the bus.  A quick trip to the visitor center for our postcards, passport stamps and my dad's t-shirt (he got one everywhere) and we were off to go hike to the river/meadow to have some lunch.

We stopped on the river to have a picnic lunch and it was great.  All of the tubers and rafters come down, it is a leisurely ride and looked like fun.  There were these beautiful birds, some type of Jays in the park too and the kids would joke they followed us, as we had one with us it seemed the entire day.

So we now had our energy and were off to the Falls.  The Yosemite Lower Falls.  You can hike to the Upper but it is about 2 miles straight up, so we would go to the lower.  We all made it to the picture/viewing area, and then the five of us climbed up the rocks to get close to the falls and cool off in the mist coming off the falls. Of course Ben had to go even farther and I didn't feel comfortable with the girls so we split up and the boys went, some great pics of our little adventure rock climbing.

That's Ben in this last one, gives you a sense of how big the rocks where that we had to climb.

So we are tired now for sure, but Mom really wants to hike down to Mirror Lake where you can see Half Dome, they other big rock cliff famous in Yosemite.  The hike was recommended by many guides, and in our National Geographic book on National Parks.  We hop on the bus again and off we go.  But first a detour, we got one stop and Claire announced she left her walking stick at the last stop where we began.  After asking more questions we realized two water bottles were left is a one-way loop,, so would take forever to get back there.  So good ole dad runs the 1.2 miles back to the stop to get everything and hops on the bus again.  20 minutes later we are back on the bus heading East.  The hike isn't bad, a bit uphill at the end, but no mirror lake, with the lack of rain fall it is barely a puddle.  The good news, an amazing view of half-dome, the bad news, no reflection in the water.  For some reason I didn't take good pics of half-dome here, but you will see some amazing ones tomorrow.

We are now all exhausted, as it has been a long, great day.  And we have a bus ride to the car, and then a 45 minute drive home, so we call it a day.  The bus was easy, only downside was some very smelly hikers next to us, but we survived, definitely not Old Spice or any other deodorant user.  We were back home by 6:30 and ready for a great dinner - hamburgers, brats, corn on the cob and some pasta on the side...yummy by chef Papa.

Tomorrow we will head to Tioga Pass, which is the "other" road through Yosemite.  A gross fraction of the cars go on this road, it leads to most back-country hikes and actually goes entirely through the park, so we will exit on the East side and take scenic byway Rt 395 through the Sierra Nevadas up to Tahoe.  Looking forward to it.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home