Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Yosemite National Park

After a six day visit, I departed Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks on the morning of June 23rd. It was late afternoon when I checked into the Forks campground in the Sierra National Forest at Bass Lake (18 miles south of the southern entrance to Yosemite) and a few miles east of the town of Oakhurst.

I had been having a problem with vibration on the front end of the van when braking on steep downhill grades and it had gotten worse on the way to Yosemite. So on Thursday morning (June 24th) instead of going into the park, I stopped at an auto parts store in Oakhurst to get a recommendation for a repair shop. They gave me the names of two “highly reputable” shops saying that one of them would probably be able to get me in today or tomorrow.

Immediately, I went to the first one, told them the situation and the symptoms and they agreed to work on it later that day! Amazing!! Without examining it first they could only say that the brake rotors likely needed to be turned and the brake pads replaced. Worse case scenario was that the brake rotors would be too far gone and would also have to be replaced, which would double the cost of the estimate.

With four hours until the appointment, I went to the library. They didn't have wifi but I was able to use one of their computers for an hour then worked on the netbook writing blog posts. Surprisingly, the time passed quickly and I went to the repair shop for the appointment at 3 o'clock. The rotors had to be replaced and it took them much longer than they thought it would. Five hours later, I left the repair shop! The only “good” thing about the wait was that the repair shop had wifi so I was able to schedule a few blog posts and even catch up with reading other blogs!

Now though, my two days at Yosemite were down to one. (The campground where I was staying was fully booked for the weekend and all of the campgrounds in Yosemite were also filled.) Friday morning (June 25th) I was up early and on my way to Yosemite at 7 o'clock. The sun was out but clouds filled the sky, it looked like it could rain.

My first destination was Glacier Point. I'd been told that the views from there were fantastic. Though it wasn't all that far (about 45 miles) it took nearly two hours to get to Glacier Point! But the views, Oh Yeah, they were worth it...

Half Dome and Vernal Falls as seen from Washburn Point (on the way to Glacier Point). The gray and gloomy skies give it a rather forbidding appearance.

Yosemite Valley and Half Dome from Glacier Point.

A close-up view of Half Dome, also from Glacier Point.

Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls, from Glacier Point. The sun came out for a few minutes, highlighting the granite walls and mountain tops.

When I had arrived at Glacier Point there weren't very many people there. An hour later, the buses began to arrive. That's when I left Glacier Point and went down into the valley. The traffic was horrible. I was able to find a parking spot at the short trail to Bridalveil Falls.

Bridalveil Falls as seen from the bottom of the falls. Yeah, ya can't see much! And I got drenched. And it was fun! The force of the wind-blown water was incredible.

Then it was back to the car and the traffic. It can be confusing driving in the valley. They have a shuttle bus available for some parts of the valley but the day-use parking lots were full. Some of the roads in the village area are closed to vehicular traffic. I wanted to go to the visitor center, the Ansel Adams Gallery, and the Ahwahnee Lodge but couldn't find a place to park. By this time it was mid-afternoon and I was getting frustrated. On the bright side though, the gloomy clouds had departed and blue sky was showing between the white clouds. The sun was shining. It was a beautiful day!

Driving out of the valley, along the Merced River were several parking areas. I stopped at one of them to eat lunch and take a few photos.

Yosemite Valley with El Capitan on the left and Bridalveil Falls on the right.

Bridalveil Falls.

I drove north toward the Tioga Road, which, if followed all the way, would take you to Tuolumne Meadows and the eastern end of the park. Realizing that it would be at least a three-hour drive back to the campground south of the park, I turned around about halfway but it was a beautiful drive. Somehow, I missed a turn and ended up back in Yosemite Valley.

Yosemite Falls from the meadow in the Valley. Cars and people line the road.

I found a parking spot along Northside Drive and walked in the meadow for a while. Further down the road I stopped in front of El Capitan where people were standing around looking through binoculars. Eventually I saw several climbers on the cliff wall, their helmets glinting in the sunlight. They looked so small.

Yosemite Valley from the tunnel overlook at the entrance into the valley. El Capitan is on the left, Half Dome is off in the distance in the center, and Bridalveil Falls on the right.

Even with the crowds of people, the congested traffic, and the lack of parking, I enjoyed my whirlwind tour of Yosemite. One short day (or even two days) is not enough time. Yosemite is on my lengthening list of places I'd like to return to someday. I'll be back!

1 comment:

  1. We visited Yosemite in the mid-1990's with 2 little kids for a whirlwind 1 day trip. Our day sounds exactly like yours with the crowds and lack of parking. Our highlight was pulling off the road along the Merced to let the kids wade and cool off. They stripped down and we all had the BEST time. Fond memories. I would also like to go back and spend some time.

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