(Continued from Part 1.)
The next morning I woke up sore and hot with what I was sure was a cold from another sub-freezing night. With as much excitement as we could muster, Chrystie and I initially wanted to take the very scenic 39-mile drive to Tuolumne Meadows and do some hiking. To our utter disappointment, the roads were still closed for the winter, not worth the effort for them to plow the snow I guess.
At the road block there was a hiking trail for the Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias which we decided to walk. This 4-mile round-trip walk was rather uneventful and not much to see unless you happen to be a fan of trees, trees, and more trees. The trees are impressive, I’ll give them that, but sadly for me, once I saw one giant sequoia, I had seen them all, and aside from two chipmunks and a bird, the animals weren’t too interested in the grove either.
Upon entering the grove, there are placards with information, statistics and the history of the sequoias in Yosemite along the trail. The highlight of the trail is a California Tunnel Tree, which in its hay-day, 100 years ago, was quite the tourist attraction with a hole cut in it large enough for a coach to ride through.
Once we had our fill of the grove, we trekked back up the 400 foot elevation change we hadn’t taken notice of on the way down, then decided to try to head to Glacier Point which sounded like it had some good hikes. Again, we found ourselves disappointed, as the road to Glacier Point was still closed for the winter. In my naivety, I never imagined roads in California would still be closed for winter at the end of May, but then again I didn’t expect to get snowed on while setting up camp. However, it wasn’t a total loss – a vista point along the way had a really nice view of the valley.
After our second big disappointment, we decided to head to the only place that seemed open, back to Yosemite Valley. We stopped at what seemed a popular spot to see what all the fuss was about and found a nice trail that followed the Merced River a bit and led us out into a meadow where we spotted six deer grazing. This came as a surprise as the area was surrounded on all sides by roads, so at some point they had to run across traffic to get in there.
As we continued on the trail it became less and less of a trail and eventually we ended up in what seemed like an employees only area of a hotel, so we headed back to the car. We decided to try our luck again at the Yosemite Village parking lot and this time we were in luck and found a spot to park. We meandered through the village and found the Ansel Adams Gallery which wasn’t so much a gallery as it was a tourist shop with his works for sale on key-chains, postcards and shirts.
Our next stop was the Yosemite Village Visitor’s Center, which just so happened to be closing 5 minutes after we entered, so we rushed through the exhibits before getting the boot and deciding to head back to camp. On the way, there was a stop with a big open area with a beautiful shot of El Capitan. It really made my day as I stood in awe of the beast admiring its glow from the setting sun.
Back at camp I decided to not mess around anymore. I grabbed my roll of duct tape and taped our air mattress to the floor of the tent, and taped our sleeping bags to our mattress and the floor – no way were we waking up cramped up in the bottom of the tent again. For the most part, it worked pretty well, and I was able to get some sleep during the night.
Chrystie and I woke up ready for one last day in Yosemite and looking forward to going home to a nice hot shower and a comfortable night’s sleep, not to mention watching the final episode of Lost and seeing how the Sharks did in game 4. We packed up and crammed our gear into the car and headed off to Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, which fortunately was not closed for the winter. Short on parking, Hetch Hetchy was not short on spectacular views.
The 117-billion-gallon reservoir is dammed by the impressive O’Shaughnessy Dam.
We walked along the dam, and through a tunnel which begins a trail system that extends all around the reservoir.
Along the trails there are two pretty waterfalls – Wapama and Rancheria, which we only viewed from a distance as the desire for a hot shower outweighed the desire to complete the 5 mile hike to see the falls close up. Confident that next time we would come better prepared and ready to rock the trails, we headed home for showers, Sharks, Lost and sleep.
See more photos from this trip here.