** I am still woefully behind on the blog. This post covers our time in Yosemite, which was in May 2017.**
The first time Deas and I tried to go to Yosemite, in 2013, we weren’t able to get the full experience as the government shut down just days before we got there. Since we were back in California for the first time since then, Yosemite was a must-do for us. We booked our reservations far in advance, and as the dates got closer we got more and more excited. Not only because we knew it was a beautiful park, but also because the record snow fall from the previous winter meant the waterfalls were raging. Unfortunately, that almost meant there were record-breaking crowds visiting the park.
We were scheduled to arrive on a Saturday, and it was an absolutely gorgeous weekend. We got about a mile from the entrance when we hit traffic. At first we weren’t too concerned, but we pretty quickly realized that it wasn’t just traffic – the cars were pretty much at a standsill. Every 15 minutes or so we’d inch forward another few car lengths, but it was obvious we were in for a long wait. In fact it ended up taking us about 2 1/2 hours to go that last mile. We were beyond frustrated, but just grateful that we had a confirmed reservation waiting for us. Once we got inside the park we thought we would be in the clear, but alas the traffic was also horrible inside the park. It took us another 2 hours to get to our campsite.
But then our luck changed. Just as we were pulling up to our site, I noticed this RV parked right across from ours.
And then, just as we parked and got out of the RV, two people from this RV showed up and asked us if we liked beer. Um, yes, please. Not only do we like beer, we were exhausted from the drive. Strangers offering us beer was exactly what we needed. It turns out the that people driving the RV are good friends with the owners of Holy City Brewing, and they were doing an ambassador trip of sorts, offering beer to people they met along the way. We happily accepted a couple beers, which were quite good, and enjoyed a nice conversation with the couple offering them, Rob and Laurie.
We had so much fun talking to Rob and Laurie that we planned to meet them the next morning for a hike to Vernal Falls. The hike started out along a river and as expected the water was roaring.
Before you get to the top of the falls, you have to climb up these stone steps with no guardrail, right next to the raging water. The steps were really slippery from the spray, and they were pretty crowded.
I (Jen) chickened out at this point. I have a knee that used to dislocate on a regular basis which often led to me falling, and even though I’ve had surgery to fix it, I am still an overly cautious hiker. Also, I tend to get a little dizzy when I see a drop-off. So the bum knee/vertigo/wet rocks/no guardrail/certain-death-if-you-fall-into-the-water scenario was a little too much for me. I sheepishly but emphatically informed the group I was turning around, and limped back down the trail, clinging to the vertical rock on my left on the way down. This unfortunately meant I forced people coming up the trail to have to step around me, closer the the death side of the rocks. Luckily everyone was pretty understanding, and one particularly nice man even held my arm as I navigated down a few particularly steep steps. Deas, Rob, and Laurie made it to the top, but there was so much spray from the water that no one pulled out their camera.
We were staying in the Upper Pines campground, which is right in the valley. Since we knew how bad the traffic was, the next day we set out to explore with our bikes, which was so much easier than battling the cars.
On our 3rd day in the park, we noticed that Shorty was chewing and licking one of his front paws a lot. I cut away some of his hair to get a closer look, and as soon as I saw his skin I knew what had happened. There is a grass called foxtail in the west that produces a very sharp, arrow-shaped seed. These nasty little things can burrow into a dog’s skin very quickly, and can be particularly dangerous if they get into a dog’s nose or ears. Unfortunately once they have burrowed into the skin, they sometimes have to removed surgically. We were very aware of this nuisance and had tried to be so careful about making sure to get rid of any that we found on the dogs or in the RV, but this one between Shorty’s toes must have escaped our attention. So the next day I had to drive Shorty an hour back to Merced, where they cleaned out his foot. And then I had to drive an hour back with a very pathetically cute drugged up doggy.
Shorty was going to be okay, but we did need to keep a close eye on him to make sure he wasn’t chewing on his bandage. Which seriously impacted our ability to do any long hikes. But luckily there are plenty of beautiful things you can see if Yosemite without having to do any crazy long hikes. In fact, you can view the Upper and Lower Falls from several places in the valley without having to hike at all.
There’s a fairly short hike to the base of Lower Falls. Even though we weren’t that close, the spray from the water was so intense I had to be really careful to not get my camera wet.
On our last day we took a drive to the Tunnel View viewpoint, where you can see both El Capitan and Bridalveil Falls.
We’re so glad we were able to spend more time in Yosemite this visit, and while I know we’ll go back someday, we’ll probably try to pick a time when it’s not quite as crowded, if there even is such a thing!