Sept 30, 2013
26.09.2013 - 13.10.2013
It was up bright and early to head for Yosemite, with a bit of bad breaking news from our hostess. The Republicans were talking about shutting down the government over the health care act, which would in turn shut down the National Parks...including Sequoias and King's Canyon, where we were heading the next day, but that there was some hope that they would work it out...well, you know how that turned out. We had a non-cancelable room booked for two nights, but still had hope they'd work it out.
So back to Yosemite. First thing...the famous 'Tunnel View'. And you know why it is famous...just magical when you come out of the mountain tunnel and see the view that you have seen so many times on paper. I have a few friends who just say...why travel when you can stay in the safe comfort of your own home and see pictures or videos of these places...nothing, I mean NOTHING can compare to seeing it with your own eyes. El Capitan and Half Dome...I wish I had more time and energy to hike to these spots.
Our first stop had been going to be Bridalveil Falls, and easy walk from the road, but being a dry autumn, our hostess told us they were dried up and not running at all. The perfect time to visit I imagine is in May/June. The Falls are not running very well in Sept, that's for sure. So we headed into the village (Curry Village) and had some pizza at the restaurant located at the village. It is very well set up for hikers and campers. Some stores selling well priced supplies, souvenirs, showers/toilets, a few restaurants selling basic fare - pizza, salads, burgers. And lots of 'bear' boxes for keeping your food. And lots of fat squirrels running around.
We decided to do Vernal Falls hike and walked maybe 20 min along a nice gentle flat road to the start of the hike. There are a few buses that do a loop of the park stopping at the major spots and they are free. The guidebook said it was strenuous uphill hike...I just didn't realize HOW strenuous! At least I had on proper footwear this time (my New Balance sneakers), and the path was mostly paved/packed dirt, but the bulk of it was uphill, on a very hot day (high 20's). Some people passed us wearing sweatshirts or carrying backpacks - it must be nice to be young and in shape, I don't know how anyone could be wearing long sleeved shirts in the heat. I'm not horribly out of shape, but a few times I had to stop and catch my breath as I thought I was going to pass out. Taking water with you is highly recommended. Though it was probably about 30 min for us to get there (and 20 min for anyone in half decent shape) it felt like an hour. It is a 1.3 km hike to the Vernal Falls bridge, where you can get a view of the falls (317 ft high), which again, were not super impressive as it was pretty dry, and another 1.1 km of even steeper hike to the top of the falls. Darrin was contemplating going the rest of the way...I told him he was free to do it, no way could I - and he wasn't in much better shape then I was. There are fountains/faucets at the bridge to get some water, and I liberally splashed/soaked my face (I knew there was a reason I didn't put makeup on that day!). He wisely decided against it. So it was time to head back down the trail, which was almost as hard on our legs as going up was on our hearts/lungs. I actually jogged in a few places as it was easier to jog down the hill in my nice bouncy sneakers - less stress on my legs. But Darrin had on hiking boots, not great for jogging. Hot feet caused me to stop once and take off my shoes and socks to cool off my feet (I think some good Teva sandals will be on my shopping list next time we plan on doing a hike in the hot weather). Once we got to the bottom of the hill, I decided to take off my shoes and dip my feet in the river. Well if you've ever eaten something cold and get the 'brain freeze' - that is what it felt like on my feet! About 5 seconds in the water was about all I could stand - but I dipped them in a dozen times...sooooo cold! Darrin decided to join in, and soon our feet were cool, and we put our shoes back on, and with an extra bounce in our step, we headed for the bus and back to the car to go to Glacier Point.
Back the way we came, we just had to stop at Tunnel View again for some more pics. It was a bit of a drive from Curry Village to Glacier Point. At a height of 3200 feet above Curry Village, it afforded some spectacular views of the Valley. It was a very twisty road with lots of hairpin turns and scenic look-offs. We could see Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls, which are above Vernal, and another very strenuous hike for those young in shape people...lol. We spent about 30 min there admiring the view and squinting to try and see the crazy people climbing the Half Dome. It was starting to get late, we still had an hour or more drive back to our room, and hunger was setting in. Back to Oakhurst and picked up some hamburgers and had a late supper (8pm or so).
A very busy tiring day, but so worth it.