This is a very late, ridiculously long report. In fact, I'm still finishing it, and decided I'd better post what I have, and add the rest later. I lurked a lot here to get info, asked a few questions and was helped immensely. Perhaps this might in turn help someone else. ***I'll do each day as post, just to keep first page manageable.
This was our second visit to Yosemite; for this trip it was just my mom (early 70s) and me (early 40s). We’re both active, but not particularly athletic. I give ages for those who think they’re too old or too young for stuff. You’re probably not!
Also, I’m a chronic over-planner and over-scheduler, but I think I finally overcame that this time (with an assist from some miserable weather). This time, I scheduled days in areas, with multiple possibilities in mind for each day but few fixed plans. The result was an oddly relaxed vacation. Hm. Is that how everyone else does it?
Monday morning #1 - Arrival
After a few days in Mammoth Lakes, we re-stocked groceries at Schat’s and Von’s, and had time for the June Lake Scenic Loop, a nice long visit at Mono Lake and a short stop at Panum Crater. We probably could have squished Bodie in, but there were rainclouds lurking, and it was really hot – somewhere in the mid-90s. Ugh. Before I’d left, the long-range forecast had predicted upper 70s, so I was feeling somewhat cheated. We still enjoyed the awesomeness of the Sierras – it looked like this great big wall going straight up for miles and miles and miles. Next time someone asks why you can’t drive through, I want to put up a picture from that perspective. “Why? That’s why. Look at that vertical rise.”
We started heading up Tioga Rd around 2-ish. More mountain verticality – wow. WOW! Absolutely beautiful, and pretty dry, although snow was lingering on the high peaks. I didn’t find any of this drive scary at all – just keep an eye on the road, obey the speed limits (if my lead foot can, so can yours) and use turn-outs. We made a quick stop at the little Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center to pick up maps. While I was waiting, my eyes fell on the whiteboard behind the counter listing park info: Lodging Availability (very little), Temperatures (Valley today 88, tomorrow predicted 91) – wait, what? 88 degrees? 91? What happened to upper 70s? Yipes. The rest of the week, apparently, looked to be more of the same. We drove on, me mulling over our plans.
We made a very late lunch stop at the western end of Tenaya Lake. This was just lovely, and not really crowded. There are a bunch of picnic tables along the water, and afterwards we walked along the shoreline. The water was a lot warmer than I expected, and so, so clear.
We drove on to Olmsted Point, and spent a lot more time than I would have thought. Besides the fantastic views of Half Dome, there’s a nice view back into Tenaya Lake, and other domes along the road. Not too many people went out on the short little trail to a big rock with even more views. (There was a thrill-seeking tourist wearing entirely the wrong shoes getting much closer to the edge of the rock than his wife appreciated. Granite is slippery, folks.)
We drove on down…and down…and down. It felt like we drove 20 miles downhill without a single incline – nice on the gas down, killer on the way back up. Entering the still-bare burn area off Big Oak Flat Rd was a bit of a shock, and a sobering reminder of fire danger. But bare or not, that drive in was breathtaking. I hadn’t thought this would be better than approach from the 41, but I was wrong. Narrow road on a cliff, tunnels, view of the valley ahead – gorgeous.
I think we arrived at Housekeeping Camp around 6-ish. (Reviewed lodging separately. I’ll say that I love the idea of HKC, but Delaware North needs to give some attention to the place, and to how their staff runs the place.) We were given a riverside unit on the east side, #523. I think I preferred the non-river units on the west. This unit faced directly onto the parking lot, and didn’t have parking directly next to it (unless you were lucky and beat your neighbors to it each day). Oh well. Concentrate in the other direction, to the Merced and Half Dome. We set up, and had time for a little walk to power down before dinner. (One of the great things about HKC is you can cook, either on the firerings or on your campstove. Or in your electric frying pan, if you had remembered to bring it. Oops.) Music was provided by our neighbors, who did come by to explain they were being loud because it was their last night and they wanted to have fun. Um, ok then. We chased the squirrels away, enjoyed the stars for a while and with tickets on the first bus tomorrow, made an early night.