Sunday, May 2, 2010

Yosemite Day-Trip

I get really bad wanderlust.  So this past Thursday when I was struck with a particularly strong case of it, I sent off an email to Paul asking what he thought about doing a day-trip to Yosemite this weekend if work allowed.  He was all for it, and nothing blew up with any of my cases on Friday afternoon, so we woke up early Saturday morning and headed out. 

Really the drive isn't bad.  It takes about three and a half hours, but the southern route past Casa de Fruta and around the southern border of Henry Coe State Park is incredibly scenic.  And I really enjoy passing all of the agriculture that goes on in the central valley - fields of strawberries just springing up from the black dirt at this time of year, orchards full of orderly rows of trees, etc.

We got to the park around 9:30 a.m. and drove through the valley floor, staring up through the sun-roof or out the windows at the sheer granite faces of the valley walls.  There were waterfalls that we have never seen before, this being the earliest in the year that I've ever been to Yosemite. 

And the waterfalls that I have seen previously were much larger with the early snowmelt.  Here is Yosemite Falls from the bridge over the Merced River.  The water in the river was so clear that even in the deeper parts I could distinguish the grains of sand at the bottom. 

We actually stopped to take a photo of the old chapel that I always admire but have never stopped at before. 

After a quick stop in Yosemite Village to pick up a turkey sandwich on sourdough with cranberry mayo to supplement our lunch of chips, oranges, and juice boxes, we rode the Yosemite bus over to Happy Isles to start the hike up to Vernal Falls. 

The weather was a gorgeous 65 degrees which was perfect for hiking. 

But even with the great weather, there was still snow up in at the higher elevations. 

The Mist Trail is closed this time of year still because of ice, so we took the Horse Trail (also called the John Muir Trail) up to the level of Nevada Falls, then dropped back down to eat our lunch at the Silver Apron, which is just above Emerald Pool. 

We also went to check out the top of Vernal Falls.  The sound of all the water rushing over the edge of the granite cliff was deafening.  We practically had to shout at each other to be heard.

This is a picture from the overlook on the way down to Vernal Falls from the Horse Trail.  I had never approached the falls from this perspective before, having usually taken the Mist Trail.  It was stunning.  I like the people in the photo because they really give a sense of the size of the falls. 

It took us about 2 hours to hike to Emerald Pool and about 1 1/2 hours to hike back down.  We saw the Yosemite Search and Rescue practicing their techniques on the bridge below Vernal Falls on our way back down. 

After our hike we took the bus back from Happy Isles to the Awahnee for some relaxation time.  It felt wonderful to sink into the comfortably upholstered lounge chairs in the great room at the Awahnee (a super elegant yet rustic hotel on the valley floor where we would love to stay but can't afford to shell out the dough - even to eat at their shi-shi restaurant where the men have to wear suit jackets).  The iconic structure is made entirely of stone and concrete pressed and painted to look like timbers so that it is fireproof. 

We also stopped and checked out the Ansel Adams gallery and the lodge where we always stay in October when Paul's extended family does the annual autumn trip.  Although we debated eating dinner at the Mountain Room (another favorite eating spot in the valley that is less expensive then the restaurant at the Awahnee but still pretty fancy for our budget), we decided against it when we learned that our favorite dessert - the berry cobbler - is seasonal and not available in the spring.  So instead we headed out of the park around 5:45 p.m. and stopped in Mariposa, a quaint little town left over from the gold rush of 1849 with old west looking buildings and ate burgers at a surprisingly great little restaurant on the main drag. 

We made it home around 10:30 p.m., sore and road-weary.  But it was a wonderful day.


  1. It looks like you had so much fun. i have actually never been in the spring so I have only ever seen a trickle in the falls. I'm glad to know that it can be done in one day!

  2. 1) I'm officially jealous. I love the idea that you wanted to do something and then you just did it.
    2) Warren looked at this post and said "They're like us...before we had a kid" :) :)

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