Thursday, June 3, 2010

Yosemite National Park - Day One

Although Lynda’s trip from Knoxville to Fresno, California went very smoothly, it was a long day for her. I picked her up at the little Fresno airport and we headed to Oakhurst, California which is less than 20 miles from Yosemite’s South entrance (highway 40). We got settled in, consumed several adult beverages, and went to sleep excited to visit Yosemite in the morning.

The High Sierra RV Park we stayed at in Oakhurst was not so good. The sites are so close together that we could not put out the awning and our picnic table was literally on top of our neighbors sewer hookup. However, if staying in this campground is your only choice for visiting Yosemite, then go for it. Experiencing that wonderful park makes the campground issues of little consequence.

Our plan was to ride the scooter to the park’s South entrance, which is less than 20 miles from the campground, and then use the free shuttle buses. But, this was not to be and perhaps it worked out for the best anyway. We set off on the scooter but did not even get 3 miles when it started acting up. So we went back to the campground, unhooked everything and off we went in the Trek - getting a much later start than we intended. The upside of this proved to be that the dogs could come with us and we drove the Trek along as we wanted, instead of waiting on shuttles. The exception to this is that we had to take a shuttle to go to the Mariposa Grove because there is no parking for RVs in the grove area.

So we parked at the Wawona Information Center to catch a shuttle, leaving Barley and Sydney for well over two hours. By the way, they were very good – there were no chewed up cushions when we got back!

The Mariposa Grove is the park’s largest stand of giant sequoias, with about 500 large mature sequoias. An interesting factoid is that President Lincoln signed a congressional bill in 1864, designating Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove as the first areas to be set aside solely for the enjoyment of visitors. We really enjoyed walking around the Grove to admire these beautiful trees. We could not explore all the trails because we didn’t want to leave the dogs alone too long, so we stayed in the lower grove area and visited the Fallen Monarch, the Bachelor and Three Graces, Old Grizzly (1800 years old), and the California Tunnel tree. Check out our photos of the Mariposa Grove.

Once back at the Trek, we set off for a drive up to Glacier Point. And what a drive that was! Up the mountain, down the mountain, all the while along windy, steep roads with tight switch-backs, and water from mountain snow run-off rushing across the road in certain areas. That’s right, snow. Lots of snow remained above 5000 feet, and it was an unexpected bonus for us to enjoy. On top of all that, there was road construction going on also. If the Trek was any bigger, I don’t know if I could have driven it up there.

Just before reaching Glacier Point, we found an overlook spot we could pull into. This gave us an East-to-West view of Half Dome, Bridalveil Falls, and more. Then we went on the end of the road: Glacier Point. Luckily, we found a spot to park in the Bus parking area (the Trek is a bus, you know) and then took the dogs and ourselves to go and enjoy the view.

Look at the photos and judge for yourself whether that crazy drive up to Glacier Point was worth it. We think it was!

After our trip up to Glacier Point and back, it was getting pretty late in the day. So we decided to return to the campground for dinner and to catch our breath. The Trek worked hard hauling us around Yosemite today, and we could smell the brakes when we got back to Oakhurst.

Tomorrow we’ll go again. This time, we’ll drive over to the little town of Mariposa and take the El Portal /Arch Rock entrance into the park. We plan to drive around Yosemite Valley area and perhaps leave the park via Highway 120 (Manteca) so we can travel along a different route and enjoy more of this beautiful area.

Yosemite is gorgeous!

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