May 2010

We’ve been having an absurdly cold May.  It’s been about ten degrees below normal most days and we’ve also continued our rainy winter well into the spring.  With some clear days on the weekend, we wanted to view a last gasp of some of the wildflowers.  The wet weather has kept them in bloom even at this later date.  Unfortunately,  it was ridiculously cold for a late May day when you consider the roughly twenty mile per hour wind.   In any event, we were rewarded with clear views and lots of flowers.

Some of the wildflowers (poppy on left; purple flower of some kind on right)

Poppy Purple Flowers

It was a nice clear day:

Russian Ridge View

View all the photos:

Again this year we decided to go to Yosemite in the spring.  April has the advantage of reduced crowds and traffic, with enough daylight to enjoy exploring the park.  This year it also marked us surviving two cross country flights in the last couple weeks.  After this weekend, we are looking forward to not getting on a plane or any long drives for awhile.

yosemite2010_044[1]The drive to the park was uneventful.  Since we left early enough in the day and took advantage of the carpool lane when available, we had few slow downs.  We stopped for dinner in Merced.  Merced is home to the newest UC campus (that’s University of California) and it has a quaint downtown.  We strolled the main street to stretch our legs and found what looked like a nice place for dinner.  All was fine, until it had been fifteen minutes and we still hadn’t ordered.  All told, the food was good, but it took almost an hour and a half for a two course meal.  That’s slow, even on my scale.   So much for avoiding all the mountain driving at night.  Despite it getting dark, the remaining drive to the park was smooth and we arrived at a reasonable time and then went to sleep.

After our included breakfast at the cafeteria (Mmmm, cocoa-puffs), we “geared up” and were on our way.   We decided on hiking to the top of Yosemityosemite2010_078[1]e Falls.   It’s 3.5 miles (each way) with about 2700 feet of elevation gain.  I wasn’t sure if I was up for this, but L’ said it was well graded and we did have all day.   It turns out, that while  it is well graded, there are a couple caveats to this.   First, it’s not just a dirt path- it’s a bit rocky in places.  Second, because we’ve had a wet winter, there was snow on the ground as we got towards the top.    In any event, we made it to the top after about four hours (including numerous photo and snack stops).   The view down the valley is good from the top and it was fun to see the snow.  They really do need to put in an ice cream stand at the top.  We hung out a bit to rest and the weather was pleasant.  

yosemite2010_179[1] The hike down, as usual, was faster and we made it back to our room in time for quick showers and to clean up.  We had dinner reservations at the restaurant in the Ahwahnee Hotel.  We caught one of the shuttle buses from our hotel and arrived in time for dinner.  The hotel is spectacular and worth a visit if you are in the park.  The dining room was magnificent with huge windows and a piano guy at the entrance.  The food was good, too, although we couldn’t really tell that it was that much better than the restaurant by Yosemite Lodge (although it has higher prices).   Still, it was an experience to do once and we enjoyed it.  By the end of dinner, we were tired, so we went back to our room and quickly fell asleep.

Opting for a different activity on Sunday, we went snow shoeyosemite2010_238[1]ing,  This is something I had not done before (it’s not a big activity back in Florida).   After checking out of the hotel and loading up the car, we drove towards where highway 120 is closed in the winter.  There’s the start of a short trail that goes to a giant sequoia grove (the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias).  We put on the snow shoes at the start of the trail  and head out.  The snow shoes make walking in the snow nice and easy and you  really do feel anchored in.  It’s not like regular walking, but once you get in the groove, you can move about as quickly. 

The trail starts off downhill and winds around through the trees for a mile or so.  We then get to the nature trail where there are some signs about the trees.  It’s very pretty with all the snow out and the it’s warm enough that for the walk back, we’re only in our t-shirts.  Getting back to the car, we let the shoes dry off and put on new socks so we’re nice and comfy for the drive back, which is uneventful.  We pick up our usual pizza pie at home to end a fun weekend in Yosemite.

All the photos are here (note that there are five panoramas which are indicated in the captions, along with links):