Yosmite Short-Trip Report (not Short)

Old Apr 18th, 2005, 08:15 AM
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Yosmite Short-Trip Report (not Short)

Last Sunday after a wet winter and a spring that hasn't really warmed up like other years, we decided to see Yosemite this spring rather than our usual July or Sept visit. Made an online reservation for park lodging at https://world2.dncinc.com/smsworld/y...world_page.htm

My query returned availibility at all park accomodations for 2 queen beds on Friday 4/15 including $379 at the Ahwahnee. Took the Yosemite Lodge at $113 for 2 adults and 2 kids. Was surprised we were able to get something for a weekend so close to our visit.

Friday afternoon we left the Sacto area via the Jackson Highway (16) through Sloughhouse and Rancho Murrietta. Was unbelievably green and beautiful. As we merged onto 49 the landscape continued to awe as the wet winter turned everything brilliant green including the oaks which had just leafed out and not yet turned silver green. To the east was the Snow capped sierra nevada. Could not have been a nicer day. I thought there is no better time to travel in Northern CA than April. The entire trip on 49 was incredibly beautiful.

Switching to 120 and climbing into the park we took the old Priest Grade road and made it to the top in 5 minutes. I understand the new Priest Grade Road takes 20 minutes longer. As we neared the Crane Flat entrance station we remarked on the amount of snow piled up on the side of the road. Spring had not come to this part of CA yet. Most deciduous trees still did not have leaves. As we dropped to the valley still no leaves but maybe a hint of buds. Through the tunnels and then there is Bridalveil Falls. Amazing falls with the setting sun still shining off the tops of the granite. As we turn toward the Lodge we can see upper Yosemite Falls which is running pretty well. Half Dome is still reflecting the sun and it's amazing sight.

We check into the lodge with the super happy friendly staff. Got a nicely laid out room in the building closest to the Gift shop/restaurants/lounge. Very clean room. They don't give out little bottles of supplies but they do have soap and lotion dispensers over the sink and soap, conditioner and body wash in the shower. Seems pretty efficient. Unloaded the car to ensure that after dark there would be no food or food smells in the car to attract bears that do not hibernate in the winter at Yosemite.

Drove to the Housekeeping area where I had found out the day before my sis and her family was staying (nice surprise for us). I have 3 words to desribe Housekeeping "Grapes of Wrath". There is electricity available in the uniits and you get a table, bear lockers and a fire ring. Inside the tent buildings there is a queen bed with a plastic matress and a bunk bed on the oposite wall. It is right along the Merced river and there is a sandy beach. So if you like to camp but don't have your own tent this would be it. These are not the tent cabins.

Back to the lodge area for dinner. Got there at 8:00 just as the Food court locked its doors. This left lots of people stranded with the only choice the Mountain Room Restaurant. Dinner, though expensive, was very good. Special was Prime Rib seasoned with rosemary.

Walked back to our room and we could hear Yosemite Falls (they don't turn off the falls at night

Part 2 next
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Old Apr 18th, 2005, 08:17 AM
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Part 2

Next morning we grabbed breakfast at food court which is efficient and friendly. They offer lots of coffee specialties for those who need their fixes. Most visitors would find something good to eat. After breakfast we walk over to Yosemite falls and it is so beautiful. Snow still on the ground around the falls. Upper falls is amazing shining in the sun.

Off to hike to Vernal Falls. Drove toward the trailhead but there is so much construction going on in the park you can not park near the bridge that crosses the Merced. You have to park in a dirt lot and walk toward Happly Isle Visitor Center and then over to the trailhead. It's a super easy walk but adds an extra 1/3 mile to your one way trip. The hike to Vernal begins easy enough but don't let that mislead you, eventually it becomes pretty much all uphill. Fortunately there is so much to see you have a good excuse for frequent stops. Behind you is Yosemite Falls which from this view you can see how far out the falls shoots before it falls. To your right is the absolutely boiling, raging Merced. The strength of the water just amazes you. In front of you is Illiouette Falls which you must constantly stop to gape at from all angles. When you are certain that you've climbed more than the posted .8 mile you finally reach the viewing bridge. It's a pretty awesome sight. You can see the brave people who have made the remaining trip to the top of the falls but they look like little ants. If you are 15 years old, like two in our party, you bound on as though you have just gotten out of the car while the others in the party ponder whether a further hike would be worth it. We forge ahead. It's steep again and it starts to get slippery and wet from the falls mist. The trail is now granite steps and it's narrower and you must negotiate both the wet rock and the fellow hikers. We make it the the viewing area right where the hike includes hand rails becuse of the slippery nature of the remainder of the hike. We decide that we've gone far enough and wonder where the boys are. We spot them at the top of the falls and in no time they are back down with us ready for lunch. Geez to be 15 again. We make our way back down as the crowds really start to build. It's like a freeway of people. It's nice to be going down but it's so steep that it isn't necessarily easier. We again marvel at all the same sights we saw going up. The day is pretty warm and the falls look like they've increased a bit. This trail is very well maintained. Lots of it is paved or has gravel. Still it is categorized by our favorite hiking book as a 3 out of 5 for difficulty.

At 4:00 or so we head to the Ahwahnee for a drink. Because of the warm day, water is falling from every rock through the park. The Ahwahnee is very nice but super busy. Weddings everywhere, people everywhere.

At 6:30 it's time to head home. All the photogs are lined up ready to take photos of half dome as the sun sets in the valley. Water is falling everywhere you look. We decide that we don't want to be on 49 in the dark so we take 140 out of the park to Merced. This drive is super easy but the most scenicly boring of any drive into or out of he park. We are sorry to leave but it was well worth the 4 hours each way. In the next month the valley will continue to amaze visitors with the amount of water.
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Old Apr 18th, 2005, 02:32 PM
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Nice report, Suzie. I heard Yosemite Lodge was finally getting tv's in the rooms. Were there during your visit?
Thanks.
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Old Apr 18th, 2005, 06:16 PM
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Suzie, great report. We were in Yosemite from April 9th to April 13th. We went in on Hwy 140 and came out on Hwy 120. We couldn't come down the Old Priest Grade because we were in our motorhome.

We spent 2 nights in Upper Pines and 2 nights at Lower Pines in Yosemite Valley at $18 per night. Every night we were there, there were camp sites available in Yosemite Valley...even on Saturday night! We had planned on moving campgrounds because we had never stayed in Lower Pines. What a great move because from our campsite in Lower Pines we had a FANTASTIC view of Half Dome. We watched the sunset from our site the last two nights.

We sure lucked into some beautiful weather. It had snowed on Friday night in Yosemite before we left. We got there late on Saturday afternoon and there was still a lot of snow in the Upper Pines campsites but it melted by Sunday. Saturday though Tuesday were clear, sunny warm days and cold (4 blanket) nights. When we woke up on Wednesday it was overcast. We had a campfire and ate breakfast outside and then it started to rain/sleet/hail/snow as we packed it up to leave. We drove out on Hwy 120. There's a lot of snow at the higher elevations but as we drove west, the weather cleared up.

The falls were great but I was suprized there wasn't more mist from Yosemite, Bridal Veil and Vernal Falls. I've gotten soaked on the bridge at Yosemite Falls, but not this time. We did get some spray at Bridal Veil but I've also gotten soaked there.

We went almost as far as you did to Vernal Falls. We didn't go prepared for the mist because we heard the trail was icy and figured we are getting to old for icy! We've been to the top of Vernal Falls several times. BTW, you can catch the shuttle buses to take you to Happy Isle to take the hike. We just walked over from the campground.

There is a lot of construction going on in Yosemite Valley. They have removed the Yosemite Falls parking area. The shuttle bus for Yosemite Falls stops at a different location and there is now a second way to hike to Yosemite Falls that is handicaped friendly. They even have some of the roads near Yosemite Village closed even to the shuttle buses! This is suppose to be done in May sometime. They are in the process of remodeling the visitor center. It's not done yet, but from what I saw, it looks really nice.

We took our bikes and road on all the bike trails. We even rode up to Mirror Lake which looks more like a wide river at this time of the year.

There are some wildflowers in bloom as you drive to/from Yosemite from both Hwy 140 and 120. I think Hwy 120 had a lot more.

Utahtea
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Old Apr 19th, 2005, 07:49 AM
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Surfergirl,
Did I forget to include the TV in my report???? I was really surprised that there was a TV in our room because they had never been before and I had warned the kids that we'd have no TV. TV was mounted on the wall near the ceiling and could be turned to either bed depending on who wanted to watch.

Utahtea,
You took the reverse route that we took. OUrs was in on 120 out on 140. Wildflowers were everywhere including vast amounts of Lupine and Poppies. The valley was 75 degrees on Saturday and we thought that the volume of water was really picking up in the waterfalls and by the time we were leaving water was actually coming out all over the park. All the parking lots had water in them.
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Old Apr 19th, 2005, 08:02 AM
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Suzie,

We had days in the high 60's and each night went down to the low 40's. We did notice that the waterfalls picked up by the late afternoon. I'm sure the warmer the weather, the better the falls!

Utahtea
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Old Apr 19th, 2005, 08:03 AM
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Suuuuuuuuuuuz,
Great TR.
I can smell the crisp Yosemite air.

We are planning a May trip to SoCal. Flying down and then renting a car for the trip back. Our first "car vacation" in a lot of years..(we don't count NV/SV, SF, RenoTahoe as "car" vacations).

The debate right now is whether or not to cut over to Yosemite from San Simeon and cont up your route home to the poor side of the tracks. O

Decisions decisions. Your TR may have helped but it's Mrs Kal's b'day soooo.
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Old Apr 19th, 2005, 08:31 AM
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Kal!

I'd do it!!! It was amazing. In all our most recent visits we've gone in July or Sept after a much less wet winter. The amount of water is incredible. We liked driving on 49 this time of year as well. In our car we had a 15 yo with a teeny bit of driver's ed under his belt so that he was able to provide some great driving tips for his father, sorry that you are not as fortunate. This is the part of parenting where that sense of humor really pays off!!!

What really impressed me in the valley was how friendly and nice all the concession staff was. Waiters, hosts, lodge check in staff were all as nice as could be.

Saw Mark Wellman on the news yesterday doing interviews about the new access at the lower Yosemite falls area. They had the opening yesterday though it was complete when we were there on Sat. It was very nice. A bronze map of the falls area was very nice and is along the walkway toward the falls. We thought the waterfall was very misty by around 11:00 am.
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Old Apr 19th, 2005, 08:52 AM
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Hey Suzie,

I got a pretty good picture of that bronze map of the Yosemite Falls area. Now I just have to get those pictures up on my website.

Utahtea
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