Friday, August 26, 2016

Yosemite National Park ~ Day 12

Yosemite Valley from Tunnel View. 
We had a GREAT time ~ 
drove 1,647 miles..... 
hiked about 66 miles in eight days..........
and saw some amazing things!!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Yosemite National Park ~ Day 11

Thursday, August 25th ~ Happy 100 Year Birthday National Park Service!!

Today we played tourist again and started the day by watching two movies in the Yosemite Theater. Then it was onto El Capitan to see some of the rockclimbers......

But first, we watched this bird take a very long bath in the water fountain! :-)

There are two guys climbing here - look in the middle of the photo for the guy on the bottom and up to the left a bit for the lead guy.  Need a closer view?

Here ya go!

Here's the guy on the bottom.  So it takes, on average, 3 -5 days to climb El Capitan and the climbers need to bring everything - food, water, shelter - with them.

Watching other people climb made us hungry. Here's Brad enjoying ice cream AND a donut.

We took a drive around to see other sites - this is Bridalveil Falls - like I said, really quite dry this time of year. It was flowing so little, that whenever a breeze went by, the water was blown away, rather than down.

The Merced River at the west end of the Valley.

Back in 1997 there was a flood that destroyed much of the housing, structures and campgrounds. Knowing that Brad is 6 ft tall, this sign gives perspective.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Yosemite National Park ~ Day 10

~Wednesday, August 24th ~ 

We took only one hike while in the valley, partly because all of the waterfalls were dry, partly because it was hot, and quite honestly, there aren't that many hikes in the valley. (Most that would interest us are from Glacier Point.) This is a hike past Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall, then loops with the JMT as a return. We woke at 6am to catch the first shuttle of the day (supposedly 7am, but it came at 7:15am) to the trailhead.

We were on the trail about 7:45 am with very few people....ahhhhh! So here's where the hitchhiking story continues........We originally thought of hiking to Glacier Point from here (about an hour's drive from the valley), and thumbing a ride back to the valley. However, after our chatty driver with our first hitchhiking a couple days prior, there was no way we were going to listen to some boring person ramble about for an hour or more, so a one-way hike was nixed. This left the loop as previously described. It was about 5.5 miles and 2,000ft elevation change.

The trail began paved for a bit......

Vernal Fall (not Falls) from far away.

Remember those rock-steps we complained about before - here they are again, although better formed and going up - much easier!

There's the trail down below...........

Vernal Fall. 

The precipice of the falls....

You'd never know this calm water becomes the raging falls..........

Still working out way up to Nevada Fall.........

Nevada Fall........

Top of Nevada Fall

Best view of Nevada Fall was on the return trip via the JMT

A different perspective of Half Dome as well.   Most of the people we met on the hike to the falls were heading to Half Dome to hike up the side with cables. One needs a permit for that.

A few switchbacks on the way down......

People! Yeah - did you notice how few people have been in our pictures all along.  We got within a mile of the trailhead and holy shit! It was about 11:30ish and these people were just starting their hike on a HOT day.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Yosemite National Park ~ Day 9

~Tuesday, August 23rd ~
 Our 1st day in Yosemite Valley!  So we were concerned about two things coming to the valley - the heat and the masses of people.  Well, yeah, it was hot - nothing one can do about that, except eat lots of ice cream. The people, well, they weren't here!  Sure, there were  a few people, but nothing like we expected (Disney World at Xmas time....)  Here's our first sighting of famous Half Dome.

Yosemite Falls Lodge is about  15 minute walk to Yosemite Village....... 

The Merced River meanders though the valley............

This is Housekeeping Camp. For $100/night, you don't have to bring your tent or sleeping bags.........

Inside of a Housekeeping Tent

Each tent gets its own bear box.

Here's Half Dome Village - remember, we were to stay here, but go into the Yosemite Falls Lodge the last minute. We renamed it Shantytown.  Trust us, through the magic of photography, this looks charming. However, it was pretty run down, tents about 2-feet apart (no exaggeration), central bathroom. $126/night, or thereabouts.......

More of the Merced River......

Campground in the Valley - there are quite a few.

Yomsemite Village has a bunch of different places to browse - a Visitor Center (of course), post office, restaurants, museum, graveyard, Indian Village, restaurants, the Ansel Adams Gallery, wilderness center, and shops.

Oh, while we were there, Suzanne completed the paperwork to earn her Junior Ranger Badge (it said that it's for all ages....) She took her oath with a ranger at the Visitor Center and got a badge. Yeah, they gave Brad one for doing nothing.....he was just standing there........

This is Camp 4 ~ a popular place for rock climbers to stay.

Half Dome again

Monday, August 22, 2016

Yosemite National Park ~ Day 8

~Monday, August 22nd ~ 
Back to Tuolumne Meadows via the JMT. We read that this area was "one of the most scenic areas in Yosemite," which is actually why we decided to stay in the southern loop of the HSCs, rather than include all the camps (Glen Aulin and May Lake - both north). This was 7.5 miles, 900 (net) elevation loss. By the way - Suzanne hates this hat, but it kept her cooler and she didn't get a sunburn.

Cool views of Tresidder Peak.

Cathedral Peak.

900 ft (net) elevation loss,  but with 2.5 miles of a gentle ascent and then fairly steep descent.

Echo peaks.

Cathedral peak (again) and the trail.


Cathedral Lake.


First sign.......5.5 miles to go!!

Getting closer!!!!

Civilization!  Story time - so first, we didn't think that this section was "one of the most scenic areas....." in fact, it was our least favorite section. However, that has nothing to do with the story..... So we parked about three miles down the road when we left. To get to our car we could: continue hiking (nah), wait and ride the hiker shuttle (maybe......) or, hitchhike!  Brad has never thumbed a ride before - we stepped out of the woods into civilization, turned to the first car we saw, stuck out our thumbs, and bam - had a ride! First try! (Kids, don't try this at home.) The guy was a climber and had no problem taking us the three miles to our car. This was a good thing, because kid-you-not, the minute we got to our car and got our stuff from the bear boxes (remember those?), it started to POUR!  Not Oregon rain, no. Open-the-faucet-and-let-'er-rip rain. Hail too! So we were glad to get a ride and so quickly!

So after a lunch of burgers, fries and soda, we were off to the Yosemite Valley for a few days ~ Part 3 of our trip! (Part 1 - Tuolumne Meadows; Part 2 - High Sierra Camps)

We stayed at the Yosemite Falls Lodge. Yup - another story ~ We were originally slated to stay at Half Dome Village (which we nicknamed Shantytown - you'll see why later), but the night before we left, Suzanne checked to see if there were any last minute openings at the hotel (which was always our first choice, but there had been no vacancies) - and there were! Sold!

No more bear boxes (they were fun for while, but did become cumbersome), hot water, a real & private bathroom, (relatively) clean surroundings......And we were surprisingly pleased by the accommodations - nicer than we had anticipated.

Outdoor deck overlooking trees. There was no air conditioning, however our room stayed cool - no direct sun. Yah!

After we showered - rock, paper, scissors: Brad got to go first -  it was laundry time again.  Brad (whoops: Labor) washed the socks in the sink since.......

.......they were so dirty.  Yuck!

And washed the rest of the clothes in the bathtub.

Recognize these clothes? :-)

Here's the view around the lodge as we walked to dinner.

So there are a few places to eat near Yosemite Falls Lodge - the "cafeteria" (we had breakfasts there), a "nice" restaurant (which looked fine but was more than we wanted) or here - the Lounge. Perfect! No children! :-)  The menu was simple and good - we actually ate here all four nights we were here. Their vegetarian soups were excellent every day, they had great sandwiches and salads, we enjoyed baked brie - perfect for us!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Yosemite National Park ~ Day 7

~Sunday, August 21st ~ 
Onto our next (and last) High Sierra Camp: Sunrise! Depending on what you read, this is anywhere from 9.1 - 10 miles (one way) and a (net) 2,250 ft elevation gain. (More on that in the  next photo). Can't forget breakfast: oatmeal again (with toasted coconut and brown sugar - awesome!), omelet, peanut butter and honey pancakes (surprisingly really good!), fruit, sausage, etc....

The hike to Sunrise began quite flat and very pretty....

through some trees......

We even saw some deer........

Merced Lake in the morning. 
(We left camp at 8:30 am  - our earliest start - knowing it was a long walk and might be hot.)


We walked along Echo Creek.

here we are again!

The vegetation started with Manzanita and Chinquapin, eventually becoming Jeffrey Pines, Hemlock and Lodgepole Pines.


Our first sign was one showing how far AWAY from Merced we were - there were no signed TO Sunrise HSC for quite a while. So we've hiked 2.3 miles at this point.

Next sign about a foot away. Notice the addition: 2.3 + 7.7 = 10 miles. Not 9.5 miles as on the literature , so we hiked somewhere between 9 and 10 miles that day! :-)

Just some more cool views of the trail........

We were surprised to find ferns, and these were already changing color!

These were HUGE boulders.

From here, we are actually on the "other side" of the peaks that were west to us from Vogelsang - they are now east of us. was thundering a lot while we were hiking toward Sunrise. So much so that it kept us at a pretty quick clip. Well, as it happens, we got rained on (a bit) and it got VERY cold very quickly. So here's a new look above-and-beyond the two shirts: rain gear!

Side profile of the rain gear look!

Just a mile to go!!

The last mile into the Sunrise HSC is along the JMT (John Muir Trail, a 221 mile trail from Yosemite to Mt. Whitney). It's meadow here.

Almost there!!

A few steps up............

Made it once again!!!!

Yup - we once again asked for a 2-person cabin and here we are in cabin # 6.

We enjoyed a cup of tea and got warm (remember, the temperature dropped and it was cold!)

Meadow views from Sunrise HSC. We spent lots of time just watching for people. (After our showers, of course!)

The dining area. Dinner was: tomato bisque (good), simple salad, spicy corn bread, turkey, spicy yams, coleslaw and a peach cake. We didn't really like it - probably the worst meal in the HSCs, unfortunately. Breakfast the next day was the usual. Sunrise was beautiful, but as far as staff, was our least favorite camp - the staff was there more for themselves than the other camps and the food service was poor. We did enjoy sitting with people we met at Merced, such as Mark & Keith, Russ & Leslie, Drew & Christy - all nice people we met along the way. 

Waiting for the sunset. While waiting we decided the following:
 Best meal - Vogelsang dinner
Best salads - Merced
Best breakfast - Vogelsang
Best Bread - Vogelsang
Best Dessert - Vogelsang & Merced, Day 2
Best staff - Vogelsang

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