16 (June 21, 2008) Yosemite National Park
We need to leave early from wherever we spend the night to
Yosemite National Park. Our plan is to come into the park by Tioga Pass
which, although it is a longer way, it is the most beautiful one too.
Once in Lee Vining, we will drive across the park, right to left,
stopping at the places we like. The idea is visiting the valley,
passing by Visitor’s Center and walking to some Falls. I’ve chosen the
double falls called Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls for this. Then we
will drive to South, to Wawona Hotel, where we will spend the night.
Depending on the time, we will or won’t take the road to Glaciar Point.
The hotel is close to Mariposa Grove, but it will likely be for the
morning of next day.
Spots marked at map are:
25 - Valley and path to falls
26 - Glacier Point
27 - Hotel Wawona
5 - Mariposa Grove
We walk around Bishop with new energies after resting from
yesterday’s tough driving journey. The city looks so different at
daylight with loud colors and picturesque things, as a British phone
box, a pink Cadillac or other weird cars…
We check out from hotel and take the same road we
used last night to arrive. As breakfast was not included we’re thinking
about stopping somewhere in our way for it. Soon, the landscape appears
wonderful around: we have the fir trees populated before the white
peaked mountains. We pass by a lake. I think it could be Mono Lake. I
stop in a gas station as I don’t want surprises while driving through
the mountains in the National Park and we take some breakfast in its
Deli café too: three hot dogs with coffee by 5$ all.
After this quick stop we go on our way to the
mountains, which snowed tops are looking closer every time.
When we reach Lee Vining, close where we stopped last night,
we take the road to Tioga Pass which makes us go from being surrounded
by mountains to being physically on them. It’s strange thinking
yesterday we were at 50º in one of the lowest spots below sea level and
now we should change our summer clothes as we’re touching the snow.
This is when stopping in a place where the landscape is wonderful with
a water fall.
We stop again later in a beautiful lake. It’s
Ellery Lake and, as the sign marks, we’re 9538 feet high. I have no
idea how many meters is this, but I’m concerning about timing now if we
need to stop so often. We never will reach the hotel!
We pass by another lake but we don’t stop until the machine
for purchasing the admission fees for the National Park. It works like
in Death Valley, we must go to the Visitors Center to get the
documentation. It’s 1:30 PM now and we still have a long way in front
of us until reaching the Visitors Center and we could lunch.
10 kilometers later we’re out of the car again in
a place with toilets a big parking area and a lot of people around in a
picnic. This is Tuolumne Meadows. We can see a big granite wall called
Lembert Dome but we go across the road to the side with no people for
enjoying the grass and a small lake alone. We lay for a bit and get
some pictures before going back to the car. It’s difficult leaving
these beautiful places as one is not used to such wonderful places
I’m trying to avoid stopping that much so I’m passing by some
places until I cannot resist to going down in Tenaya Lake. But we’re
back on road quickly after getting our sight and our pictures. My wife
points a deer twice, I don’t manage to see the first, but the second
stands at the edge of the road, 4 meters from us. As we’re hungry we’re
only thinking about lunching now and I keep driving while making
pictures from both sides of the car. We still stop one more time along
this road: Tioga Road. We can be at the edge of an endless granite
abyss. There are firs rising from the rock. But the great open view is
even more magnificent, allowing seeing a vast landscape and I’m not
realizing how big this is until I can see the small shadows are from
the clouds in the sky. The entire sky is projected over this landscape.
is around 3 PM when we reach the end of this road. Looking at the map
at the beginning of this page we can see we’ve just gone across the
park from right to left. I turn to my left in the T intersection, down
to valley with the Visitors Center and the places where we will be able
to lunch, although quite late. Somehow, after the first tunnel, there
are a lot of stopped cars in a mess. At the beginning I think about an
accident, but then, when the tunnel ends, I do what everybody is doing:
stopping the car and looking at the stunning views at right. We get out
from the car too like hypnotized by the amazing sight: Merced River go
along the junction of two big mountains, from the bottom of the valley
until passing under us, with water falls in the walls of the mountains
here and there. The picture is the one below, but we have the feeling
it doesn’t do its justice.
Later on, after meeting a couple of ranger
trolleys full with tourists we reach the valley and the river. The
landscape is still beautiful here as the water falls we saw from far
appear here impressive. This is the spot with more traffic and we can
see the Visitors Center, but I go on following the sign to Ahwahnee,
which is a hotel I know it has got a restaurant
Entrance is all in wood with a platform for along the front
for the hotel . We park some meters after it and get into the place
following that wooden platform. It’s not a surprise kitchen is closed
but at least we’re offered their appetizers menu, where I can see how
expensive is lunching here. We order from the lowest range of prices
soup hummus and sandwiches with water and this way we’re not going to
pay more than 20$ per person. We’re alone in the big eating room, well,
not completely alone as two squirrels have got inside from the terrace
looking for leftover food. A big blue black-headed bird comes in the
terrace. I cannot identify it and I think we don’t have of those in
Europe. Looking the animals we’ve finish our lunch and we’re not going
to take anything for dessert so we take the car and go directly to
Visitors Center. We get maps and some info about the park and purchase
some souvenirs too.
We have time for a single visit, so we follow the
signs to Upper and Lower Falls: two water falls on different levels.
When we park we can perfectly see the Upper Fall and it is quite
impressive from here. We follow then the path through the beautiful
forest and keep meeting people coming back every when and then. I see
more of those blue birds here and I’m chasing one with my camera all
along the way and it is avoiding me as if I was a paparazzi. I get a
lot of pictures, but not a single good one. The one at right is the
best I can get:
We pass through a wooden bridge over a stream created by the
falls. This conifer forest is very beautiful and we can enjoy every
corner. We can hear the thunder from the falling water from here, which
we reach immediately for getting stunned one more time today. It is the
Lower Fall and there are a lot of spots for good pictures avoiding the
people, which is obviously here.
A sign pointing to “Upper Fall” shows it is possible to reach
the.. well, the upper fall, but we suspect it will take a while walking
up through a steep path, so we enjoy some more time what we have in
front of us before coming back to the car. I want to reach the hotel
before dusk as I don’t want to drive through massive granite formations
in a complete darkness.
We’re driving directly to it as the sun is gone
and the light will follow it. Since long time ago, the edges of the
road are full of fallen, opened and empty pine cones, but they’re huge
too. It’s like half of a meter of size and I stop when checking there
are no cars in any direction and ask to Eva to get one quickly. This
way we’ve gotten this giant pine cone as souvenir. What kind of animals
would eat from them? 10 meter sized squirrels?
We see the junction to Glacier Point, but we must
go on to the hotel with no stop. Except for another one, just a few
minutes after it, when the row trees at our left just opens to a
magnificent views. There are the most popular peaks in Yosemite: El
Capitan and Half Dome. A view like this was the only reason for going
to Glacier Point. The picture we get at this point is wonderful and
tomorrow we will find out it is exactly the sight taken as logo for
this National Park. This picture is in the next page, then.
We finally arrive to Wawona Hotel at daylight, but
when it is really ending. While checking in we’re advised not leaving
any food in the car. When I ask why I’m answered it is because the
bears. I laugh skeptical, but then I’m showed some pictures about what
a bear did to a car parked outside this hotel to get the food inside.
There is no better way of getting convinced.
So we take everything could be eaten from the car and check we
don’t leave a single crumb of anything before going upstairs to our
rooms. We just leave our things and go out to explore the place now is
not dark yet. We walk across the huge flats of grass and check a big
barbeque just finished, how bad!
Inside the hotel the life is fantastic too, with a pianist playing and
joking with the music and we seat in the terrace outside for dinner.
We’re so good that even order champagne and we’re shocked when seeing
what is coming is a bottle of Freixenet. We get in conversation with
the pretty waitress and want to let her know that brand belongs to a
sparkling wine which factory is just beside our house in Spain. She
explains later the people working in the National Park live in a
village at the other side of the river and in winter they’re cut off.
She also explains the bear alerts are real and sometimes they go down
Later on, we’re in chatting with a couple
from the Netherlands which talk about the European football cup. They
explain Spain is playing so good and winning all their matches. It
seems next match is against Italy and then I predict that is going to
be the end for our team.