Day 17: Yosemite

Yosemite National Park, California

We had to get up very early in order to get a campsite in Yosemite. This was necessary since it would be hours in travel time if we stayed this far from Yosemite Valley. We were up by 7 A.M. It was a cool, clear morning. We left Bass Lake and drove back to the park arriving at the Bridalveil Creek Campground on Glacier Point Road. We drove around looking for a spot but people were still eating breakfast and stumbling out of their tents in long underwear and flannel. Looking around, I could see steam rising from people cooking breakfast; people seemed to be doing the usual morning things. We got a site but it was crammed in the inside of a loop, we waited for this group to leave across from us and took their spot. This was an excellent spot. Number 108. There was a family on one side of us (this kid actually brought weights on their trip), flat, level rock on the other side of us, and a pine forest behind us. We were going to stay here for two nights so it was nice to get a scenic site.

Fog at Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park, California

Fog at Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park, California.

Today was a car sight-seeing day, tomorrow we would hike. First, we ventured out to Glacier Point but it was a bit foggy out. I figured it would burn off by this afternoon. So we went down to Yosemite Valley, which took about an hour! This park is almost too big. We went to Yosemite Village to get something to eat; it was 11 A.M. by now so that something was going to be lunch (no breakfast for us). We drove the loop road that circles the valley.

Yosemite Falls (rather dry)

Yosemite Falls (rather dry).

The base of Yosemite Falls

The base of Yosemite Falls.

Our first stop was Yosemite Falls. This was a short walk to a huge fall. Unfortunately, the amount of water flowing is minimal since the winter snows have melted by now, but there was still a trickle. We made our way past all the toddler-raisin', cam-corder holdin' parents to the end of the trail where it's your job to climb, jump, and slide your way to the falls on the massive granite boulders that blaze a trail to the falls and the pool of cold water beneath them. This granite is called sliprock, named for the fact that it is relatively smooth and the chemical make up of the rock make it very slippery. You can't get a grip on it and neither can your reebok. It was quite an adventure getting up to the falls. There were many people in and around the pool. Some were swimming, some were climbing, some were sitting under the falls. We left this spot and continued around the loop road in the valley, stopping at all the vista points.

El Capitan and our trusty Honda

El Capitan and our trusty Honda.

In the center of the valley is the Merced River which many people use for rafting, swimming, or sun-bathing on the rocky banks of. This park is one of the most-visited parks in the country. It receives over two million visitors each year and I would guess, judging from all the people in this place, that most of them come in the summer, around the end of July perhaps? The valley floor is in the 4000 foot range. El Capitan, a huge granite mountain, rises over 3000 feet above the floor.

We drove up out of the valley on Big Oak Flat Road to get an overall view of the valley and see the points we passed yesterday as we were coming into the park. These views were spectacular and are those seen in the postcard pictures. Talked with this German fellow who thought that this view overlooking the valley was the best in the park, he just stayed there and marveled it.

Andy and me in front of the Yosemite Valley overlook

Andy and me in front of the Yosemite Valley overlook.

Mirror Lake, Yosemite

Mirror Lake, Yosemite.

We marveled it ourselves for a while and had our picture taken by a friendly stranger and we soon were off, back to the valley. Now we were going to Mirror Lake on the eastern side of the valley. Had to park at the stables and take the trails out to the lake. On our way out there, we were walking along the Tenaya Creek and since no one knew what the lake looks like this guy in a group in front of us pipes up, "Is this the lake? Looks like the lake disappeared!" His friend congratulated him, for he was correct. Once we arrived at the lake's bank there was a sign titled DISAPPEARING LAKE. Apparently, the lake is slowly being filled by the sediment carried in the runoff water from the valley walls. Now there is barely a lake. It looks like a wide stream that just ends. I found this remarkable since I knew that when I came here with Mom & Dad in the mid 1970s there was a huge lake, which lived up to its name, reflecting the valley walls and the clouds in the sky. It's not often a geologic change like this can be seen on such a short timescale. So it will be Mirror Meadow soon, I guess. We walked up the banks of the river that fed the lake for a while and then turned back.

Back to camp for the night

Back to camp for the night.

Headed back to our camp which was a little under an hour's drive from the valley. Stopped at the store before we went back to get some food. Once we arrived, we went into the woods and gathered wood for the fire we were going to build. We took our time tonight cooking dinner, we had chicken tonight along with carrots and one of those noodle mixes. It was a relaxing night, the stars were nice and bright tonight. I think the temperature was in the upper 30s tonight. I had to sleep with a sweatshirt and socks.