Navigating across northern California would have been easier if we’d remembered the gazetteer, but we were trusting google…and then we found there was a whole lot less Internet out here. We stopped in the town of Ukiah for dinner at their brewpub – their pilsner was a bit light- then continued across the central valley, finding a BLM land pull off that didn’t actually have no camping signs, and settled in.
Wednesday morning we sprinted for Yosemite. It was a lumbering sprint, as we stopped at Amanda’s favorite fruit stand for veggies and crack almonds just north of Modesto. We also swung through a grocery store in some nameless town and got supplies and gas.
We reached the park around noon, and plopped down below Bridal Veil Falls on the main drag to eat up our leftovers & decide what to do. All the campgrounds were full. We ended up spending some time orienting around The Village and the transit system, and then took the bus out to Camp 4. I’ve read about the climbers base camp in so many stories – Nevada Barr, John Muir, a couple movies, and it’s always a lawless, drunken place, with dirty sloppy inhabitants. I didn’t find it so – it was actually neat and peaceful, with a few children hanging out in the shade. It was much quieter than the ‘family’ campgrounds across the valley! Let’s hear it for folks who do strenuous exercise, have a beer, then sleep silently in their tents.
We stopped at the trail sign, with one leg pointing to the famous El Capitan. We went the other way. We hiked towards Upper Yosemite Falls, which was a 3.8 mile stroll with an elevation gain of OMG. Scott has the actual numbers, but I recall we’d gained 1000 feet over the first 2 miles. We managed to do it almost entirely in the shade too, which definately helped my stability – my sun issues are something I hope to avoid this trip.
Scott took pictures of the falls, and we turned and headed back down, cursing the trail builders now and again. There were lots of rock stairs – an impressive number – and occassionally they were sloped, narrow, and offset – we ended up nicknaming it scale mail, and our feet slipped off it like arrows off a knight. Did I mention the elevation? We descended a long time, but it seems to be a ratio of 2 hours up:40 minutes down.
We took the bus to the van – one of our fellow bus stop waits walked up & said “hello hikers,” in a boisterous voice and handed out snicker minis – must remember this as a way to meet people.
Since the campsites were all filled that we knew of, we headed out of the park to park the van in a dispersed camp beside a river.