On Wednesday morning we had another fire in the wood stove and picked up an early coffee and tea while we waited for breakfast in the lodge. Allan was sick by this time, and not having a good time. (Fortunately it turned out to be his worst day.)
On this day we went in the opposite direction, north on the Tioga Road into the High Sierra country, part of the Sierra Nevada range. The Sequoias and El Capitan are spectacular, but it's the high country of Yosemite that appeals to me the most. I love the rocky terrain spotted with fir trees, the glacial lakes, the sweeping views. This Wikipedia entry on Tuolumne Meadows has some good photographs of the area.
On the way there, we stopped at Olmsted Point, named for both senior and junior Olmsteds, who both had a hand in preserving and guiding Yosemite. This seems great to me, since Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr., the godfather of landscape architecture, is best known for New York City's Central Park. Olmsted Point offers a view of Half Dome from the "other" side, opposite from what you see in the Valley, and surrounded by the High Sierra terrain. Here are some photos from Olmsted Point until we can get our photos up.
The area was crowded with people, cars, buses and RVs. It's annoying - but it's also wonderful that so many people are out enjoying this very special place. It was only a short walk to a quiet, spectacular view that we seemed to have all to ourselves.
From there we continued on the Tioga Road to Tuolumne Meadow, and asked at the visitors centre for suitable hikes, which is what almost everyone at the visitors centre is doing. The hike we chose began near the stables, so we checked to see if there had been any cancellations, but they were still fully booked. On our first trip here in 1988, riding in the High Sierra was one of the most memorable experiences for me; I'm so glad I did it then, since it was not to be repeated.
We hiked up Dog Lake, a steeper hike than I would have wanted (which only means it wasn't flat!), but it was shady and much cooler than our hike in Mariposa Grove. I still had to stop frequently, but it was much easier. The little lake was beautiful and still. There were many other people on this hike, too. Massive amounts of people are enjoying Yosemite. It's good, and it's annoying.
We hiked back to the parking lot and picnic area, where people were speaking many different languages and there were a few people with visible disabilities, which I thought was very cool. We also saw signs warning about food left in cars, and directing people to use bear boxes, day or night, even in crowded conditions. Our food had been in our car. So we dodged a very serious bullet there. A bear can open a car like a sardine can. A rented car. Without insurance.
The importance of bear safety goes way beyond your car, though, however awful that prospect is. A bear that learns to eat food from human areas often becomes dangerous, and ends up being put down. So when you leave food in your car - like we did - you not only endanger yourselves and other people, you may contribute to the death of a wild animal. I'm not pleased that we slipped up, but it does show how easy it is to do.
From my notes, I see that on the way up to Tuolumne Meadows, we talked about the bear incident and decided that a bear had probably been at our tent. I also see that in the morning, I found a piece of fruit in my backpack, the backpack that had been in the cabin. Yeesh!
On the way back, we stopped again at Olmsted Point, because Half Dome looks so different depending on the time of day. This time it looked more solid and heavy, less shiny, more massive.
Back at White Wolf, we showered and changed and had dinner at the lodge, another very nice meal, and chatted with some folks from the Bay Area.
Every night we were there, I spent a little time staring up at the night sky. A dark sky studded with stars is a very special thing to me, something I seldom see. The other special thing was not having internet or cell phone access for three days. I loved it.
In the morning, we packed up and drove to Oakland, stopping for lunch at a picnic spot, missing our Freeway exit (the signage sucks), getting lost, then grabbing one last In-N-Out meal outside the airport. I chatted with you from the airport; it was a long trip home (Yosemite to Oakland to New York to Buffalo to Mississauga) but uneventful.
Two years, two destinations planned for us because of family weddings. I don't know if we'll be able to afford a trip next year, but the next time we travel, we'd like to choose the destination ourselves!
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