Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Eastern California Adventures

Can’t wait to get back to Yosemite, so on Saturday, October 6 we gassed up our trusty little car in Coarsegold on our way north on Hwy. 41.  It was 27 miles from our campground to the south entrance of the park and then another 80+ miles to the Gaylor Lakes parking lot.  On the way, we pulled off the Tioga Road at Olmstead Point for this view of Half Dome (it’s that little bump on the horizon near the center of the picture).

P1160207 - Olmstead Point
In considering which hike to do we decided on a “Moderately Strenuous” one and Gaylor Lakes seemed to fit the bill: 2 miles RT, 2 hours, and 500-ft. elevation gain.  Hmmmm….we should be able to handle that.  What we failed to take into consideration was that this particular hike is very near Tioga Pass.  9,945 feet.  High.

Didn’t get far till we were totally out of breath and not feeling that great.  Darn elevation got us once againSad smile, so we beat feet back to the parking lot and retraced our path back to the area near the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center and Lembert Dome.  Not quite as scenic, but quite a bit lower and reasonably FLAT!  It was a beautiful afternoon and we had a nice several hour hike just wandering around and exploring.

This is Lembert Dome:
 P1160221 - Tuolumne Meadows hike
And the Tuolumne River:


A stop at Tenaya Lake on the way home:


Sunday, October 7.  Time for a rest – spent the day just lazing around and took a walk around the campground.  Even managed to snag a little tour with one of the resident SKP’s in her golf cart and got a little history on the park.  Neat place and nice people, just as we’ve found in nearly every Escapee park we’ve ever stayed in!

On Monday, the 8th, we ordered a replacement GPS from Amazon.  This time we chose the Garmin trucker GPS that will allow us to input the height, width and weight of the motorhome and thus avoid any roads that might cause us problems (hopefully!).  Then we headed for Fresno to order a pair of replacement clip-on sunglasses for Lora’s glasses.  California is not a good place to be without sunglasses!  Also did a little shopping while we were there – even found an REI store.  We always feel right at home in REI stores and invariably find something to buy…

Time to head back to Yosemite, so on Tuesday, October 9, we got gas again and headed north.  This time our destination was the “Valley” where most of the tourists go.  One nice thing about this time of year is that there aren’t quite so many of them, but it was still fairly crowded.  We stopped first at Tunnel View where one can see “up” the valley.  That’s El Capitan on the left.


Next, we stopped at Bridalveil Fall and took the short hike back to it.  Not much water this time of year.  Guess we’ll have to come back in the spring sometime…

P1160298 - Bridalveil Fall

Finally arrived at the Village and went to check out the Ansel Adams Gallery.  This gallery was first opened in 1902 by the Best family, whose daughter, Virginia, married Ansel Adams in 1928.  Adams died in 1984 but his amazing photographs will hopefully always inspire us to maintain what wilderness is still remaining.  One of the gallery displays included a quote from David Brower* that impressed me:

“There aren’t many places left where we, ourselves, can choose whether to exploit or leave wild.  Although the budget of natural things may have looked unlimited to grandfather, we know it is a finite budget.  Wildness is a fragile thing.  People can break it but not make it.  And we are quite capable, in our own time, of breaking it all – quite capable of using up all the choices America will ever have between saving and spending what is left of its unmarred natural heritage.”

On down the road was the famed El Capitan.  We always marvel at the climbers, some of whom overnight on the rock face in tiny hammocks.  Not a good place to be a sleepwalker…


And, the famous Merced River:


Yosemite is surely one of the most beautiful spots in this good ole’ USA.  We need to ensure that our children and grandchildren treasure it enough to keep it and all other special places safe…

*Brower was an ardent conservationist and the first executive director of the Sierra Club.

On Wednesday, October 10th, we ventured about a dozen miles up the road to Oakhurst for a bit of shopping and a movie.  “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” was a bit farfetched but we still enjoyed it!  Got back to the park in time to wander up the highway a mile or two to eat at the Chukchansi Gold Casino.  Decent food but no big win….

One last visit to Yosemite on Thursday, October 11, but it was cool and rainy this morning, so we had to stop in Oakhurst first to pick up some new wiper blades and gas for the car.  Then it was on to the Mariposa Grove near the south entrance.  At least we didn’t have such a long drive today – only about 30 miles!  We did the hike around the Lower Grove.  Fortunately the weather cleared up as the day went on.


This Douglas squirrel (chickaree) was apparently preparing for winter!

P1160383 - chipmunk #2

So amazing how these trees survive after fires…  This is the “Grizzly Giant”.

P1160391 - Grizzly Giant #5

So long, Yosemite – we’ll be back.

Friday, October 12: time to go see Kings Canyon & Sequoia National Parks.  Our original plan was to make a loop by going in the west entrance of Kings Canyon by way of Hwy. 180 and then follow the General’s Highway and out through the Ash Mountain Entrance of Sequoia.

Unfortunately, the fog was so thick going into the park, that we almost turned around before we even got there!  We ended up only hiking around General Grant Grove in the west section of Kings Canyon, so guess we’ll have to come back here also!

Walking through the “Fallen Monarch”:

P1160454 - Fallen Monarch #5

“General Grant Tree” in the fog:

P1160464 - General Grant Tree #3

“Centennial Stump” and its story:

P1160503 - Centennial Stump sign #2
P1160502 - Centennial Stump #2

And, still foggy on the way home!


Saturday, October 13th found us headed over to Squaw Valley to visit some of John’s cousins.  Thanks, Mark & Betty Ann and family, for a wonderful visit!  It was nice to see all of you again – it’s been a lotta years!!

Here’s all the little cousins watching a movie,


and, the adults.  How did our kids get to be adults already??


We lazed around on Sunday again, waiting for Monday, October 15 to arrive so we could check the post office – again – for the GPS that we had ordered a week ago.  It finally came in in the afternoon, so on Tuesday, October 16th, we hooked up and left the campground at 9:00 a.m.  Time to leave California.  It’s been fun!!

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