Since last night was a late one I wanted to sleep in but no luck, the elk and dear are coming around the campsite and starting to nose around the tent. They seem genuinely disappointed when I pop out my head, maybe I still have some elk musk on me from the redwoods.
I’ve made a decision to change camps. The secondary road to get here is in such bad shape that I really don’t want to suffer the bone jarring effect any more plus it can’t be good for the car. I’ll pack up my stuff and take it with me while I’m shooting in the valley, then on the way to the east exit I’ll check at Tuolumne Meadows for a site.
On the way into the valley I stop at Tuolumne Grove which is home for the biggest of the redwoods, the Sequoias. These are the giants of trees because of their sheer bulk and there are about 25 of them in this particular cluster. The
trail down is easy, in fact you drop about 500 feet in one mile, the return trip will be a little more strenuous. Within the grove is an easy, half mile, self guided tour where you learn about the exploitation of these trees and
how unique they are to the area. One of the interesting facts is that these trees actually need fire to propagate and for the longest time the forest service did not realize that and stopped a lot of the fires in the area.
Wrap up the grove and head down to the valley for the last time, want to check out the falls and
hike up to the Upper Yosemite Fall if time allows. It’s a relative cool day in the upper regions but as I head into the valley it will warm up quickly. I go to
the lower falls because it is a short trail and it turns out to be a great disappointment. There is no water flow like I’ve seen at other
locations and if you really want to see it up close you have to crawl over about half a mile of boulders. Instead, I decide to hike the Upper Yosemite Falls trail, which is almost a 5-mile vertical trek. Need to make sure I leave plenty of time to get down and secure the campsite.
Start the climb, not too bad, need to be careful about the loose sand on the rocks, especially as I head down. Half a mile in and I see people above me, mother and daughter, father and son so I decide to try and catch them, WRONG DECISION! I forget you have to let your body acclimate to the altitude but nevertheless I start to get closer until I notice all these pretty stars even though its still daytime. Time to take a break, rethink my strategy and gasp for air. 45 minutes into the climb I stop some people coming down and ask them was it worth the climb? They look at me deadpan and say “we never made it up, just about two-thirds of the way”. That wasn’t what I needed to hear but they looked like a bunch of Euro-vegan lightweights so I dismissed their input and kept moving up. Ninety minutes and I catch up and pass the mother/daughter team who are slowing down, the 11-year-old daughter is not into the hike but she humors her mother and continues to climb. 2 hours and I am at the halfway point, need to make a decision, continue or head back? Did I mention that I am carrying about 25 pounds of camera gear? Fortunately another few people are descending and I ask them how long it took them to reach the top. They laughed and said that they had been climbing for 3 hours and decided to turn around. Between hearing that and the afternoon sun bearing downThat was enough for me; my conscious will be just fine. Since time was running out I needed to head to the car, I can try it again when I come back with my wife (she wouldn’t turn around).
Head out for Tuolumne Meadows, which should take about an hour and I need to get there no
later than 5pm or all the spots will be gone. On the way I pass some great looking formations, Tenaya Lake, Lembert Dome, unfortunately I don’t have the time
to explore them.
Arrive safely and issued a spot but also receive a warning about recent bear attacks into cars and tents. Seems that a bear lives in the campground so everyone is being told to put anything that has a scent inside the bear lockers at each campsite. The bear was obviously been fed by humans, that’s a problem because it won’t be motivated to search and store food on its own as the weather turns. As the food gets packed I see one of the park vehicles towing in this contraption that looks a missile laid on it’s side, turns out to be a bear trap.
I grab the gear and take a few shots at sunset then head back to the tent to fix some dinner and enjoy the rest of the evening. As I lay down to close my eyes I hear in the distance the clanging together of pots, air horns and the chorus of “Go away bear”, looks like the night just got interesting.