November 25, 2010

11/16-17/10 – Yosemite NP

We stayed at a 1000 Trails resort called “Yosemite Lakes”.  It’s obviously higher there than where we've been, and colder.  Most of the park was shut down for the winter—that includes heat in the showers.  They only turned it on at 6:00 am, and it took a couple of hours to warm up to almost bearable.  I am so not into winter camping!  Sign on the bathroom door had a reminder to close it tightly so you won’t be surprised to share it with critters.   Oh, goodie…
 It’s only 5 miles from the Big Oak Flat entrance of Yosemite on Highway 120, so we actually went to the park two days in a row.  There had been snow a couple of days before and the Tioga Pass road was closed through the park, although it was reopened while we were talking to the ranger at the Visitor Center.  Evidence of the 2009 fire showed clearly from the Big Valley Lookout. 
We stopped to take the short trail to Bridalveil Fall.  (I learned from the park brochure that you don’t add the “s” to Fall–unless you’re talking about two waterfallS.  If you want more on the English lesson, let me know.)  Pretty walk along a little creek to the base of the fall.  George started talking to retired couple from the UK, vacationing in the US for a month.  We blocked the walkway for a while talking to them, then George ended up exchanging names and e-mail addresses.   On the way back, we saw a doe with a couple of fawns.  (Awwww…)
What can I say about Yosemite that someone else hasn’t already said better?  We took pictures of El Capitan, Half Dome, Yosemite Falls (that would be Lower Yosemite Fall AND Upper Yosemite Fall). 
Even though it’s the middle of November, and there aren’t any (well, at least not many) kids, there are still quite a few people.  Not as bad as if we were here in July, but we still had to park way-the-hell-and-gone from Yosemite Village, and then tromp to the Visitor’s Center.  A very nice Ranger helped us figure out the best hikes to take.  We weren’t ready for the strenuous ones yet, especially at Yosemite—we figured we could handle “Easy” and sometimes “Moderate”, as long as they weren’t a zillion miles long. 
It’s nice being here during the off-season, but one thing you don’t think about is that although the crowds aren’t as big—there’s not as much daylight either, especially when you’re in a valley surrounded by tall granite walls.   
We hiked to the lower fall, a really pretty trail through the forest, complete with boardwalk and rocky stream.  The hike to the Upper Fall is full of steep switchbacks and takes several hours.  Not this trip!
We then wandered the Cooks Meadow Loop, where you can actually get a picture of all 3 Yosemite Falls (Lower, Middle & Upper) at the same time.  There’s not usually so much water still flowing this time of year, but it’s been rainy in northern California this fall.
I think that every pilot that flies to or from SFO detours over Yosemite, no matter what his destination is.   I have never seen so many contrails! 
 The next day we went back.  Hey, if you’re only parked 5 miles away from the park and you’ve got a Golden Age Passport (it’s George’s—he got old first so it’s in his name) so it doesn’t cost anything to visit national parks, then why not go a second time???
Back to the Visitor’s Center to decide what to do, then walked about ½ mile to the trailhead, and the 1.7 mile Mirror Lake Loop Trail.  It’s mostly paved—think it’s an old road bed—that follows the Merced River, then over the river and through the woods.  J 
There was a family group pushing a little one in a stroller.  They sounded maybe Eastern European; they seemed more interested in looking for mushrooms than anything else.  Mirror Lake is actually two little pools that are only there seasonally.  By the time we took pictures, George’s camera battery was dying and Half Dome was blocking the light, so we headed back…

We left the next morning about 6 hours before a big snowstorm hit.  Once again we lucked out with the weather. 

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