Thursday, July 10, 2008

Yosemite Valley 7.10.08

Today was our first day to visit Yosemite Village. We started out the morning by taking off & stopping at a place called ‘Tunnel View’. This is a little stop right outside one of the bridges in the valley that has a spectacular view of the entrance to the valley – El Capitan (on the left), Half Dome (in the center), & the Three Brothers to the right.
You can see the smoke in the air – there are 6 fires burning in Yosemite right now, started by lightning strikes on Tuesday.

Then we took off to Bridalveil Falls, a 620 ft drop.
The sun was just behind the falls and it was difficult to get a good picture of it. There were tons of people around, everywhere the eye could see. The parking lot was full & everyone was climbing up to the falls via the rocks. We hightailed it outta there and onto the Village.

The ‘Village’ is the highlight of the park – shops, museums, food stands, & stores. They have parking just outside of the village and a free shuttle bus that runs you around to 21 stops. When we arrived, it was hoppin’ so we decided to just hoof it around the village. We wandered the shops, stores, museums, bookstores (it’s dangerous – I wanted to purchase half of the books!), visitor center, & Ansel Adams Gallery. We stopped for the 22 minute ‘Spirit of Yosemite’ movie with its fantastic photography & great history of the area. The place was packed but was easy to forget everyone was around when you looked up at the marvelous view around you.
We decided it was time for lunch so we hopped on the bus & headed out for the Ahwahnee Hotel. The Ahwahnee is a beautiful hotel with lots of history. It is also spectacularly beautiful. The lobby looks as if it hasn’t changed in the 80 years it has been operating.
You can relax on the couches in the Solarium while taking in the fabulous 10 floor-to-ceiling windows.
We had a wonderful lunch there (Michael had a cracked-wheat turkey wrap and I had a chicken waldorf croissant, it just sounds amazing, doesn’t it!). We relaxed on the back patio & just took in the grandeur of the place. And of course no trip to the Ahwahnee would be complete without a sneak peek into the grand dining room…

Once we were fueled up again, we took off on the Shuttle to the Happy Isles Nature Center. We love to take in all of the information in these places. From there, we headed out to hike up the Vernal Falls Footbridge which I had read was an easy, .8 mile with a 100ft elevation change. I was mistaken…badly!! We took off around 4:30 to start the climb and only saw folks headed down the hill. That should have been our first clue. But we kept on going…up and up…it was at least a 30% incline the entire .8 mile hike. It was a killer. But, we continued on and were rewarded with a fantastic view of the bottom of the 317ft Vernal Fall. Beautiful… (yep, that’s it…right in the middle of the picture)

We jumped back on the bus & headed back to the jeep. On our way out of the village we stopped at Yosemite Falls – the highlight of the park. Yosemite falls drops 2425ft, considered the tallest in North America and the 5th highest in the world. We first went to the lookout point where there was just one other couple enjoying the area
but then made the choice to join the legions of others as they hiked to the bottom of the falls. It was still beautiful but I would choose the quiet, serene spot next time.

On our way back to the jeep, we found a small buck chowing away at the foliage in the meadow. He was so cute!

Back at camp we enjoyed a nice dinner & fire – our first in several days. Yosemite Village was nice to visit – once. But I prefer the outskirts. No cell service or internet in our campground so I’ll have to update everything at once when we leave. I won’t have cell service or internet in Kings Canyon or Sequoia Canyon too so be patient and I’ll update as soon as I can.

More to follow…


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