Yosemite National Park, Part One

We are in Yosemite National Park!  This is Jeff’s first visit, and while Heather was here as a teenager, she has always wanted to come back to experience it as an adult who can appreciate it a little more.  It has been a much anticipated stop on this adventure and we were concerned for a while that it wouldn’t happen.  If you have followed the news at all, you know that Yosemite got tons of snow this winter – and even had to close for a while – but everything opened back up just in time for our reservations!  Because of the popularity of the park, these reservations had to be made months ago, before the snow even started to fall, and we had no idea at the time what the winter would hold. 

Our first reservation was at Hodgdon Meadow Campground.  This campground is typically open year round, but along with the rest of the park, had to close for a while this winter and spring because of the snow.  It reopened THE DAY our reservations started, which meant we were really sweating it for a while.  It seemed like the reopening date kept getting pushed back and we were afraid it wouldn’t happen in time for us.  A couple of days before we arrived, we actually got an email telling us to bring a snow shovel because some additional snow removal might be required in the site.  Luckily, we didn’t have to shovel any snow, but it was the weirdest, most un-level site we have ever stayed in.  As the matter of fact, we agree that it was the worst national park campground we have ever been to.  Almost all the sites are massively un-level.  We really felt bad for all the tent campers who had to set up on a hillside without any way to level their tent.  We don’t know how they slept without ending up scrunched into one side of their tent every night.  As for our site…we really weren’t even sure where our site was.  The site number pole was facing the other direction of the one way road, the bear box was facing a different direction, there was a huge pile of dirt and debris in front of our picnic table, and we had no idea where to park.  We ended up parking on the other side of the site number pole from our picnic table and fire ring, which we are not sure was actually part of our site, but no one fussed or made us move, so who knows.  And boy was that thing difficult to get in to.  It was in a turn and so sloped that it took us over an hour to get backed in and leveled up as much as possible.  This is a chore that typically takes about 20 minutes, tops.  Even with all our efforts, we were still over an inch off-level.  We typically like to be within a quarter of an inch, but by that point we were over it.  An inch was good enough, and way better than the seven inches we started with. 

Our campsite in Hodgdon Meadow was a bit of a disappointment, but that is where the disappointments end.  Yosemite is spectacular and we set out to see as much of it as we could in the time we had.  It has been a very busy week!

Our first day (Saturday) took us to Tuolumne Grove.  If you don’t know anything about Yosemite, they have three Giant Sequoia Groves.  Mariposa is the largest (and most crowded), but there are also two other smaller groves that don’t see as much traffic, and Tuolumne is one of them.  With it being the weekend, we were looking for spots that might be a little off the beaten path with fewer people.  When we arrived at the parking lot we were greeted by snow banks as high as the roof of the truck!  We knew this would be a snowy hike, so we were prepared with both our Yaktrax and snowshoes.  After looking around at the trailhead, though, we decided to just wear the Yaktrax and leave the snowshoes behind.  For the trail in, this was the right decision, but once in the grove where it was less packed down from other hikers, we were wishing for the snowshoes.  It wasn’t terrible, though.  We were still able to do the trail and see the enormous trees, we just had to move a little slower and get a little more wet than we would have, had we been on snowshoes.  If you have never seen the Giant Sequoias, you definitely need to do so.  Words and pictures cannot capture the size of these massive trees, which are the largest trees (by volume) in the world.  It is something you absolutely have to experience for yourself.

Sunday took us to Hetch Hetchy Valley and Reservoir.  In all honesty, we were both on the fence about going into this area.  We had the attitude that it was just another reservoir and would it really be all that scenic?  The answer is yes.  Yes, it really is all that scenic and worth every minute of the time it took to get there.  We actually both said it was one of our favorite hikes of all time.  We opted to do the Wapama Falls hike which takes you along the shoreline of the reservoir, past several other waterfalls, and ends at the footbridges of Wapama Falls where you can get right in front of the falls, feel the power under your feet, and the spray on your face.  We had a hard time getting any great photos of Wapama because there was so much spray that it kept soaking the lenses of the cameras! We were so excited to get to experience this, even if we don’t have photographic evidence! It isn’t often that you are able to get this close to a huge waterfall! Wapama Falls would have made this a worthy hike all on its own, but when you factor in the reservoir, cliffs and mountains all around, wildflowers growing along the trail, and the other waterfalls that we passed along the way, it was absolutely top notch.  It was one of those hikes that just kept getting better the entire way! 

And on Monday, we moved into Yosemite Valley, but that is a different blog post.  Stay tuned.  Spectacular, amazing, awesome, wonderful…None of those words can adequately describe the sights and experiences to come. 

Until next time!

2 thoughts on “Yosemite National Park, Part One”

  1. Great that you got to Yosemite! Glad that you had your chains at the ready, just in case!

    I’ve seen a couple of photos already, so can’t wait for Yosemite Blog Post #2.

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