Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

How to do Yosemite in two days- October 23

Day one, October 23. We drove 26 miles on Rt. 140 to the Archway entrance to Yosemite, on the west side of the park. The mountains became VERY big, and the road proceeded for about seven miles downhill, to the Merced River, which we followed, more or less, for nineteen miles upstream and/or uphill. I had entertained thoughts of riding to the park tomorrow, but they were quickly nixed, because of the sharp turns, lack of shoulders, and brutal final eight mile climb I would have had to make once I got up into the park. There was just no margin for error on the road, and it would have been a slow go. There was an archway tunnel just inside the park boundaries, which tour buses and motor homes could fit through, but it was a very tight squeeze. No one was bringing RVs of our size into the park itself. The scenery was beautiful, however as we followed the canyon formed by the river. The water level was very low due to the time of the season, but the water was crystal clear, and very, very cold. The huge boulders in the river were amazing, and were accentuated even more by the low water level. There were some deep 'holes', and they were really inviting to me, but a swim was out of the question. We did see some fish, and some of the mountain climbers used anchors to attach ropes to the big boulders so you could climb on the to jump off, if you were so inclined.
At one point, the Yosemite Valley finally opened up, and the first recognizable ( to me) thing we could see was El Capitan. Rising 3600 feet straight up from the valley floor, we could see climbers doing their thing on the face of the rock. There was a pull out, and we parked the Jeep, and took in the beauty and majesty of it all. When I said we watched climbers, it's not exactly how you probably pictured it in your mind. We used binoculars, powerful ones, and could still barely see them on the face of the rock. They were still smaller than ants, and it took some hunting to find them. It takes three days for them to climb El Capitan, and they sleep right on the ledges. We were told to come back at sunset and we could see their fires twinkling on the face of the mountain. We didn't do that, but it would have been cool to see. We took a half mile trail on the other side of the road and it took us to the foot of Bridalveil Falls. I was surprised to see that there was water flowing, because some of the falls,  (Yosemite Falls, one of the highest in the world) are dry right now. The area is also currently in a drought, which hadn't helped, either. I took some time and scrambled up the boulders to the base of the falls, something that is not always possible to do. The granite rocks on which I climbed were still worn slippery and smooth by the millions, if not billions, of people who have done the same climb. Speaking of the masses of people, (we were told that this place is ridiculously crowded in the summer), we feel lucky to be here this time of year, when it's not so crowded, and the leaves are changing. They are probably at their peak of color right now. I didn't have one Oriental ask me to take his picture, like I did in every other national park this summer. We spent the rest of the day walking trails around the Yosemite Village, and when we got slightly lost, we just hopped on a shuttle bus, and saw the rest of the valley by bus before it got too dark. It's getting dark earlier and earlier, which really takes time away from what you can do in a day. The sun set at about 6:10, and the shadows of the huge mountains cover the valley way before that. When the sun disappeared, the temps plummet into the 40s and 30s, so it becomes less fun to be walking on a trail somewhere. Yosemite is different from other national parks in that there are not many motor homes in the campgrounds, but mostly tents. There is also no huge lodge or hotels. There are hundreds of canvas tents  that you can rent, and there is also housekeeping camp. A huge area where you get a canvas structure with some wooden walls, but it is basically open air, to set up housekeeping. It looks as if parking is a huge problem in the summer. The pullouts on the road were busy for us, so I imagine the whole place is a zoo in season, unlike when I was here in the early eighties. Most people tell us that 75-80% of the tourists are foreigners. We saw the valley in one day, and tomorrow will be above the valley.

On our way to Yosemite!  The road was blocked due to a rock slide, so they built this one lane bridge to route you to the other side of the river and then another brings you back to the other side.  Vehicles longer than 42' are banned, and motor homes must disconnect their towed vehicles.  And Mike wonders why I didn't want to drive the MH here!  Really?!

Since the bridge is one lane, you have to sit and wait about 15 minutes until the light changes and gives you the green light.  While we were sitting, Mike took a picture of where we came from.

Starting across the bridge

Looking across the river at the rock slide - behind the sign is where the road comes out of the slide.


Autumn is here!


Looking down at the Merced River

Just inside the park is this rock tunnel that I can't figure out how buses and RVs fit through!

El Capitan!  Looking for climbers on the rock face.
Autumn leaves on the creek

Bridalveil Falls



The wind would blow and made the water shift back and forth like a veil in the breeze!

Mike crawling back up from the foot of the falls


Merced River

Autumn in Yosemite

Sentinel Mountain

View from visitor's center

Tepee at the visitor's center

Trail trough the woods

Dry creek bed - not like this in the spring!

Yosemite Falls info - but no water today!!!

Famous Half Dome


In 1997, Yosemite was flooded by a quick snow melt and stalled rain system.  Mike is standing by the road - the flood waters would have been over his head!  There are "new" bridges all through the park!

Half Dome from a bridge over the Merced

Mike's reflection picture!

El Capitan from the other side

Climber on El Capitan

We hiked a trail that was below the back side of El Capitan - this was looking up from the trail.


Enjoy this video of the Bridalveil Falls!  Mike climbed to the foot of the falls to take this panoramic video.

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