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California Road Trip 2016, Part 7


We wrapped up our short visit to Sequoia National Park and moved on to our final location on our road trip early Thanksgiving day.  We headed out of the high country of Sequoia and then north to Yosemite.  Before we even got to the entrance we were seeing signs that it might be a bit busy so we quickly took advantage of vacancies at Wawona and set up camp.  We arrived early enough to make the run to the valley and take an initial look around.  Our good weather continued even though it was on the chilly side.

You’ll quickly notice in many pictures an abundance of dead trees.  I’d read about the millions of dead trees in the Sierra due in part to extended drought, but seeing the extent of it is something else. The current estimate is 102 million trees dead.

After a glorious hot shower we took a quick walk around the valley and to the base of Yosemite Falls.

Holy cow the crowds.  Thanksgiving was busy, then it just got busier as we were there over the weekend.  And apparently either people can’t read or have no regard for their safety among other observations I could make.  I could go on and on for a whole post but I’ll just leave it at holy crowds.  I can’t say it wasn’t expected, and it’s something you tolerate once in a long while if you want to visit a crown jewel like Yosemite every once in a while, but still, holy crowds!

Luckily the mountains don’t change.  Before we knew it we were back at the truck at dusk, it was back to camp for a hearty Thanksgiving dinner and another nice fire.

Next day we spent the full day in and around the valley on a few hikes and doing some sightseeing.  I hadn’t been to the park in about 15 years and spent most of that time in the backcountry so it was a day well spent.



LaConte Cabin

We spent a good part of the day hiking above Mirror Lake with stellar views of Half Dome, North Dome and Basket Dome.

We ended the day (time flies!) with a trip to the Ahwahnee Lodge (currently re-named to some other ridiculous name I’d rather forget)  and the Ansel Adams Gallery and were caught in a traffic jam trying to get back to camp that wasted a good hour.

It turned out to be our last night around the fire as a storm was incoming for our night on the road on the way home.  We started the trip with a question that I didn’t think could be answered yes, but not only was it possible to go the entire 17 day trip without buying firewood, but just collecting odds and ends as we went, we were able to have a fire all but 2 or 3 nights due to rain (I’m still debating that third night in my head and can’t place where exactly it was…).  We ended up arriving home with enough wood for at least 2 more nights.  It made it gratifying when I was seeing people leaving the store in Yosemite with 4 boxes of purchased wood, or those that were buying wood from state parks for $10 a whack.

We started our last day in Yosemite with a look around Wawona.  It turns out that the lodge and associated developments were really the first built for tourists in the park.  Wawona also hosts a history center featuring historic structures that were built for various functions (superintendents office, miner cabin, Wells Fargo office, etc).

To my surprise Wawona also hosts a still active golf course inside the park.  It wasn’t on my top ten things to do while in the park, but I guess it gets some use.

We couldn’t visit the Mariposa Grove as it was closed for some prescribed fire restoration, so it was back to the valley.  Upon dropping down into the valley we recognized that the wind was blowing with enough intensity and at the right direction that is was taking Bridal Veil and Yosemite Falls and essentially blowing them away periodically so that there wasn’t a continuous stream of water falling.

We were headed for the hike to Vernal Falls but got distracted and ended up making a loop around the valley trail on the way and enjoyed taking in the views.

Then we finally made it to the Vernal Falls trail.  It was quite a steep trail which ended up getting steeper along the way.

The last segment of the trail actually consists of several hundred granite steps.  It was quite an amazing feat of trail construction.

Our blue sky day had turned grey and the storm we knew was coming was getting closer so we made a hasty retreat down the trail and out of the valley a bit later than we had planned.  Just as we were getting out of the park the snow started and quickly turned into a heavy downpour as we descended out of the Sierra.  Luckily we were ahead of the crowds and escaped quickly.

We stopped at a camp outside of Sacramento on the way home but the trip was all but over.  The next day was just the long drive north.  17 days and 16 nights in the truck camper in so many amazing locations.  I’m ready to pack the truck and hit the road again.  Thanks for following the journey.

2 thoughts on “California Road Trip 2016, Part 7

  1. Your entire trip sounds like a wonderful time! Thanks for sharing and bringing us along vicariously!

  2. Thanks for posting your trip.
    Such a great 17 days. Lots of beautiful areas you visited.
    Yes Yosemite is beautiful but the crowds are killing it.Those warning signs I think people just think they are “suggestions”.

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