A link to part 1 of our weekend of nature if you haven't read it yet because you should.
We woke up early and I looked at the weather which said it would rain aaaall day in Yosemite park. I was a little worried that our day would be dampened by rain, but luckily it didn't and the sky was beautiful for the entire day.
We ate breakfast at what we thought could be this adorable little breakfast place in Carson City, with a little more convincing on my end to get sleepy Christian up, and it had pretty good reviews on Yelp. We got in and it looked fine, the menu was enormous and took a lot of reading through, but our server, who was an oldish woman was very abrupt and all "I gave you enough time to read the menu now order". I chose a tomato and feta egg burrito when I should have gotten the Belgian waffles. If there's one thing I learned this summer, it's always get the Belgian waffles omg. I love them. And I could have had them with strawberries and whipped cream or strawberry and blueberry compote with whipped cream. Christian was lucky and got a little bit of everything on his plate. But like, two minutes after we got our food she brought the bill over and stuck it on the table. I've never had that done to me, and I didn't think any place did something like that, aren't waitresses in the US living off tips? It kind of made us feel like we were supposed to be rushing through our breakfast and the place was nowhere near closing time.
We did end up kind of rushing through our breakfast and soon we were heading towards Yosemite. The views were breathtaking the entire way there. We drove through a place called Carson Valley with the mountains on either side of us and a lush green valley.
We ended up in the mountains overlooking gigantic valleys and the mountains stood tall over the road. We weren't even in the park yet and we were looking around in awe. On a whim, I stopped at what a sign said was an overlook and there was a lot of cars there, so why not. I stumbled into something really cool and really beautiful. It was near Mono Lake on Highway 395, called Conway Overlook.
The coolest part wasn't even the view, though that was pretty cool, it was the massive amount of bumper stickers and other kinds of stickers people had stuck here. This and this was the guardrail in 2010, and below is it in 2014, even more stickers have been added to it. I'm determined to go there again and stick our own stickers to it. Hold on, just let me write that down on the bucket list.
I've made the image below clickable (opens in a new tab) in case you want to read some of the really cool stickers on it. Panoramas are courtesy of Mr. Christian Selig.
This was the view behind/to the side of us as we looked over this scene.
We lost service around this area, maybe before it because we were cycling through 4 songs Christian had cached on his phone. We kept driving up further and further around winding roads on the mountain side, like the kind you see in movies where the bad guys are chasing the good guys and there's a long drop that they could drive over and and there's no guardrail and the bad guys end up driving over it and getting out of their cars and shaking their fists at the good guys. That's the kind of road we were driving on. I think Christian fell asleep on this road as well. They looked kind of like this, but then again most of the roads in Yosemite looked like that as well.
The elevation at the Tioga Pass Entrance, the entrance we came in is at 9,932ft. We went into the park thinking we could park the car and maybe hike for a while around and see some sites. I imagine you could do that, but the park covers an area of 747,956 acres (3,026.87 km2). We were completely wrong. We started driving having no idea where we were or how to get anywhere and the map the girl gave us at the entrance didn't help because we couldn't figure out where we were, but luckily after twenty minutes of driving we found a visitor information place. A girl working there helped us and told us where we were and circled on the map some things we had to get in, the big things. We learned that a creek is made of snow runoff and a river is ocean runoff. She also said someone had asked her if they could drive over Half Dome before. In a Subaru.
Using the paper map as our only guide through the park, we started out. I had made a comment earlier in the trip about how we were lucky to be in a generation where we have Waze, Google Maps and Apple Maps to direct us without having to pore over a paper map and try to figure out where you were or use signs on the side of the road, or even guess and hope you were going in the right direction. Not in and around Yosemite/Tahoe. We were stuck using the map we had been given, and we were lucky to have been given it.
Our first stop was Tenaya Lake. A beautiful lake that would have been amazing to kayak on. You could swim in it and there was a beach for laying in the sun and picnicing. The basin of the lake was created by the Tenaya glacier, which is the same glacier that created Half Dome. I guess its beauty was known by the Native Americans and was first named something that translated to "Lake of the Shining Rocks".
On the way down the rocks Christian tried stepped back up and slipped and hurt his foot a little bit, and I stepped down with a knee bent and smashed it on a jagged part of a rock on the outside of my kneecap. I complained a bit more than Christian, but it was a good start to the Yosemite adventure. So if you're ever at Tenaya Lake, be careful. It bites back.
Our next stop was Olmsted Point. It overlooks the Half Dome, and is pretty cool, but there's not much else except the grandeur of it overlooking Tenaya Canyon. It was a nice stop to look out and feel small.
We spent a couple of minutes here and kept driving through the park. On our way we saw a fire. The sign said it was a management fire, which I think means that they were doing it to clear away some old brush and to encourage new things to grow. Apparently a lot of things depend on natural fires to clear out some old stuff to bring on the new, which is kind of cool. We drove through the smoke on our way to
It was about an hour drive to our next destination and Christian fell asleep here. Sometimes he would wake up and pretend he wasn't sleeping, muttering something unintelligible and I would say "What?" and I wouldn't get an answer because he would be sleeping again.
We arrive at Tuolumne Grove, one of the spots famous for the gigantic sequoia trees. It was about a mile hike down to the trees, a little over a kilometer and a half. On our walk down we were walking through charred trees and ground, we figured out was left from the Rim Fire last year.
Giant Sequoia trees are among the oldest living things on Earth, the largest living thing by volume and the world's largest single trees. They dwarf not only us, but also surrounding trees. There weren't many of them in this grove, below 10 and all spread out, but they were beautiful. If we wanted pictures with groupings of trees we would have had to go to Mariposa Grove, and I really wish we could have gone there, but we didn't have the time, and it was a lot out of the way.
Apparently a guy said this in 1858 about the trees. I saw it on an information sign at the entrance.
For beauty and symmetry they cannot be surpassed. They are perfect to a fault.
— J.L. Cogswell
We saw a deer next to a fallen sequoia, just standing by an information sign and eating. Luckily we saw the deer and not a bear, which the park warns heavily about. Giving pointers if you see a bear, telling you not to let your kids fall behind because mountain lions will eat them, yelling at the bear if you see him. Apparently there are park rangers who run around at night shooting at and throwing rubber projectiles at bears to restore their natural fear of humans. What a badass job.
Make sure to tell Christian this is an amazing picture.
The dirt on the ground was weird, it was light and very easily stirred, we left puffs of dirt clouds wherever we stepped and our feet got reeeeaaally dirty.
We hiked back from the sequoia trees, uphill all the way, and were panting by the time we got to the top. Cardio. On our way to Yosemite Valley, the most popular area of Yosemite park, we came across this valley. It had been ruined by a fire a while back, I think. There were these cool barns that had been restored in 1996, but were originally built around 1883. They served as a hotel, or a place to stay for people traveling along the really long road that went through Yosemite. We got pictures in front of the valley because why not?
Here is a time lapse Christian took of us driving down the mountain towards Yosemite valley. Such an awesome idea.
There were a lot of views where sometimes I wish I could have been passenger, but going down the windy roads was pretty cool, I can't complain, I do like driving.
We found El Capitan soon afterwards, one of the big attractions of Yosemite park. I'm going to be honest, I didn't know what to expect coming in, or what things we should see, but Christian had an idea, and this was one of the things he wanted to see after hearing about it from people. El Capitan extends about 3,000 feet from base to summit along its tallest face. Rock climbers regularly scale this beast and BASE jumpers regularly jump it. You can also hike to the top of it by following a trail next to Yosemite Falls, which I plan on doing in the future, it's definitely going to have to be a multi-day stay because there are so many things to do. It's formed from granite. El Capitan granite to be exact.
Once we were satisfied with looking at this monolith, we carried on to find Half Dome, which, if you've seen anything for Yosemite OS X, it is the default background. There are a lot of campsites around this area and you can hike past Half Dome to get to some beautiful falls, but as we approached Half Dome it was getting darker by the minute and we, sadly, didn't have time to hike to the falls. Add that to the list. Also horse back riding through Yosemite. I'm so excited for that.
Half Dome is Yosemite's most familiar and famous rock formation, extending 4,737 feet at it's highest point, also made of granite rock. It apparently is an illusion that it lost half of the "dome" on it. It used to be considered unclimbable, or "perfectly inaccessible", but was finally conquered in 1878, you can now climb to the top of it using man made things such as a hiking trail, granite stairs or a cable route.
It was getting dark, and after failing to drive towards the falls and realizing what a long hike it would be, we decided to go home. Yosemite in the dark is pretty creepy and Christian mused what would happen if we broke down or ran out of gas in the outback of Yosemite at night without no service and a long walk from the campgrounds. It was a long drive back and I think we took the scenic route through. We didn't get service until about three quarters of the way back, using the cached map to find it. It was kind of nice to not have it though, this weekend, because we were able to throw ourselves into what we were doing and exploring and it was really cool.
I was tired and had to pee and had a giant headache, I think from the pressure differences or maybe lack of water that was overtaking the entire right side of my head and we were pretty hungry. We stopped at a McDonald's three quarters of the way back and I got a really good club sandwich made with chicken. Why don't we have that in Canada? We ate in the parking lot while a homeless guy had a loud argument with himself by the bus station across the road. We alternated driving because I was getting a little sleepy and surprisingly Christian didn't fall asleep once on the way back from Yosmemite. We got home closer to 2AM exhausted and Christian had to get up to go to work the next morning.