A day driving through Yosemite

Trip Start Nov 01, 2009
Trip End Nov 30, 2010

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Flag of United States  , California
Wednesday, June 16, 2010


As we were the only people staying in Hess House B & B in Lee Vining, Vianesa treated us to a special breakfast. We had orange juice, coffee, fresh fruit, granola, yoghurt and home made French toast, which was delicious. The fruit that we couldn’t eat, Vianesa put into zip-lock bags for us to take with us into the park. Before we left, to avoid paying another $110/night in the next place, we booked accommodation in the Quality Inn in Merced for that night at a more reasonable $45. We then went into the information centre in Lee Vining and picked up some trail maps for Yosemite before driving into the park using our Annual Pass to get in - so it felt free!

There was quite a lot of snow about as we entered the park. We stopped at Lake Tioga where there were huge chunks of ice floating on it, getting quite excited to see so much snow. We drove further and stopped at a lookout point over the valley and lakes we had just passed. As we looked out, a few marmots appeared from under the rocks to do a bit of sunbathing.

At a lookout called Olmsted Point there was a great view of the ‘Half Dome’- the signature mountain of Yosemite. It was much colder and windier than we had expected and I was quite keen to get back into the car after appreciating the view. As we drove into the main valley in the park it got warmer and we went for a quick exploration around some woodland by a river, where we watched a man do some fly fishing for a while. For some reason I had a lot of static electricity that day and every time I went to open or close the car door I got a shock, I even gave Doog a few shocks. I resorted to kicking the car door shut rather than risking another shock.

We had heard of the huge Redwood or Sequoia trees found in the park and we were keen to see them for ourselves. We didn’t have time to drive to the main Sequoia grove in the south of the park, so we decide to go to smaller Merced Grove. On the way, we noticed a few cars parked on the main road along with a park ranger vehicle next to some woodland. We decided to park and find out what had made everyone stop and as we entered the forest we saw that a crowd of people had gathered. We hurried to the front of the crowd, where we saw a large brown bear in the vegetation foraging for food. Doog and I were so excited to see a wild bear and so we couldn’t believe it when someone said there was another.

Sure enough as we walked around a few more trees we spotted a second smaller brown bear (that was actually black) also in the vegetation. Suddenly the smaller bear started running towards the forest, being chased by the larger bear, who some people thought was its mother. I couldn’t see what happened to the little black bear but the brown bear once it had reached the outskirts of the forest started to climb to the top of a tall tree. It was amazing to see how quickly she got up there. Completely transfixed by what we were seeing, the brown bear then hurriedly scrambled back down the tree. As if the tree-climbing had taken it all out of her, she then curled up and went to sleep. Hoping to see a bit more action, we waited around but the bear showed no signs of waking up so we left amazed at what we had just seen.

We finally made it to Merced Grove after a brief stop for lunch which we decided to eat in the car after seeing how quickly bears can move and how good they are at hiding up trees. It was only a 1 mile walk to the Sequoia’s, although on the way we saw a family of deer walking through the trees right next to the path. The Sequoias were huge, so big that it was impossible to take a picture of the whole tree.

We drove back into the valley, past the point where we had seen the bears and a little further down the road there was another group of cars - more bears? Doog and I went to investigate and found that people had discovered another bear taking a nap next to a tree. It was not as active as the bears we had previously seen and it was difficult to get a good look through some long grass. The people watching were accompanied by a ranger who made it very clear how annoyed she was that she had needed to stop on her way home to oversee the public who had spotted the bear.

In the valley, we stopped to watch rock climbers on the vertical rock face of El Capitan. They looked so tiny on the huge mountain that they were practically invisible…crazy people! A man had set up a telescope to watch them and he let Doog take a photo through the objective. From the telescope you could also see that they were setting up camp for the night in a tent that had been suspended from the cliff. How you could get a good nights sleep on a cliff face is beyond me.

We walked to the famous Bridalveil Fall and got totally soaked as we approached it, there were lots of rainbows in the waterfall mist and all the paths to it had turned into little streams.

Finally we drove over a small bridge to get a good view of the Half Dome and then on to the Yosemite Falls which we thought about walking to. Although we wanted to stay in the park longer it was 7pm and we still had to drive to Merced, so reluctantly we left.

We arrived at Merced around 10pm and were very pleasantly surprised by our Quality Inn motel room, which was huge, had a TV, ensuite, WiFi and breakfast included. By this point we were hungry and expecting that the only place open would be a burger place, we were happy to discover Denny’s, which although is far from gourmet, was very tasty and we even had vegetables.
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