Temperatures dipped that first night and we were glad to have a heater in the tent. The bed would not win any awards for comfort, but we soon grew used to its shortcomings and slept well the balance of our stay. With rain in the forecast we knew that our first full day in the valley would be one filled with as much hiking as we could fit in.
During our visit we benefited from the presence of a vary large contingent of students enrolled in NatureBridge, a multi-day program for students in grades K-12 that provides them with an opportunity to learn hands-on science in one of the world’s most stunning geologic wonders. The programs National Park locations include Yosemite, Golden Gate, Olympic, Santa Monica Mountains, Channel Islands, Prince William Forest and Shenandoah.
Because of the sheer numbers of students attending that week, a couple of the concessions in Curry that were scheduled to only be open on the weekends, notably the Pizza Joint and the Peet’s outlet, were opened the weekdays we were there to accommodate the crowds. I’d brought our Whisperlite stove, and teapot to make coffee each morning, but knowing we could stroll over to Peet’s to get their limited edition 125th anniversary Yosemite Dos Sierras blend was the far better choice.
After breakfast and some time at the lodge checking email and doing some computer work, we locked up the tent cabin, hoisted our daypacks and took off for Yosemite Village using the park’s effective shuttle bus system. Yosemite Village is home to the largest supermarket in the valley as well as a gift shop, outdoor store (more a glorified gift shop) and a number of food outlets, all with the exception of a convenience store and deli, closed for the season.
From the Village we shuttled over to Yosemite Lodge to check out the food options there, the Mountain Room, its adjacent Mountain Room Lounge, and a new food court. We then walked over to Camp 4 and started our hike for the day, beginning on the Valley Loop Trail, which, follows many of the Valley’s first east-west trails and wagon roads and offers a rare opportunity to hike on a fairly level trail with some solitude.
I’ve often found this to be the case at Yosemite. The valley can get incredibly crowded and yet a majority of the visitors rarely venture far from the parking lots and pull-outs. Just a small amount of effort can lead you to a place like the loop trail, thinly populated, where we passed few others during our couple of hours of hiking.
We would end up hiking about five miles that day, heading east from Camp 4 towards Yosemite Village.
From there we skirted around the Ahwahnee Hotel to the stables and with rain starting to fall, cut through the North Pines (the other walk-in campground) and Lower Pines campgrounds to return to Curry Village.
The balance of the afternoon passed by as we drank some wine at the tent cabin. For dinner we made our way over to the Pizza Joint, taking the pie over to the lodge to eat and then while away the rest of the evening reading and taking care of the blog.
We’d originally planned on spending just three nights in the valley, but a full day of rain forecast for Wednesday would be lost to hiking and we made the decision to spend one more night as Thursday was forecast to be a beautiful day. With the extra night of lodging secured, we planned a full day pursuing as many indoor activities as we could; surprisingly enough there was plenty to do out of the rain. After another nice morning of good coffee (the baked good selection at the Peet’s kiosk was excellent as well and we indulged in a different one each day in addition to some breakfast items we’d brought with us) and catching up on emails, we took the shuttle over to Yosemite Village to begin our day.
Our first stop was the Ansel Adams Gallery, one of our favorite indoor destinations. Long time admirers of this great artist’s work, we’d purchased in the past a print from one of his negatives, Yosemite Valley Clearing Winter Storm. I don’t recall what we paid for it at the time but it now looks like a bargain relative to today’s prices for these reprints. We invariably pick up a box of notecards at the Gallery and maybe one other souvenir as the products for sale there are from various local artisans and craftsmen.
We next walked over to the Visitor Center to spend an our or so roaming through its exhibits which go into great detail on the history of the valley, including its formation, discovery and development. When finished we walked around the back of the center to the Yosemite Conservancy’s Honor Wall to view the section that features my Mom’s name. Yosemite was one of her favorite places; we scattered her ashes in the Merced River near Happy Isles not long after her passing in 1997 and as a family we felt that one of the best ways we could honor her would be to establish a memorial fund in her name with the Conservancy (then it was called the Yosemite Fund).
It’s always a little sobering to approach the wall and see her name there. It brings back all of those memories, the ones that don’t come so often when a close relative has been gone for a long time, almost twenty years in this case. I often wonder what she would think of the world as it has become, this child of the depression, who shared her love and her common sense viewpoint with the three children she and my Dad successfully raised. And just once more I’d like to talk with her, about her beloved Dodgers or UCLA Bruins, or Ansel Adams, or maybe just how to make the best taco. She is missed and yet remembered. I guess that is the best legacy one can leave behind.
Whisperlite Superfly: http://www.cascadedesigns.com/msr/stoves/simple-cooking/superfly/product
Valley Loop Trail: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/valleylooptrail.htm
Ansel Adams Gallery: http://www.anseladams.com/yosemite-gallery/
Yosemite Valley Clearing Winter Storm: http://www.ansel-adams.org/clearing-winterstorm.jsp
Yosemite Conservancy: http://www.yosemiteconservancy.org/honor-someone-special