Before leaving North Pines campground on Tuesday morning, Glenn and I took a bike ride to Happy Isles Nature Center.
Designed for nature exploring children and their families, the nature center offers indoor and outdoor natural history exhibits.
It is located near Curry Village which is where we headed next after moving camp to Upper Pines campground, passing by the stables on the way out of North Pines.
On the right side in the middle you can see a group of white helmeted riders getting ready to go for a ride after words from the staff.
Below is a map showing the location of the campgrounds and Curry Village.
There are literally hundreds of tent cabins here that look like this:
There are showers,
a grocery store and grill,
a mountaineering shop,
and even more.
We did not dawdle here for long as the the plan for the day was to drive 30 miles to Glacier Point. Check out the view from the parking lot of Half Dome (and all the cars!).
On the way we took a peek at Housekeeping camp.
They have hard-sided cabins here.
I guess if you wanted to list the accommodations in the valley in order of luxury you would have The Ahwahnee at the top, followed by the Yosemite Lodge, Housekeeping, Curry Village, and then the campgrounds. My personal list would be the exact opposite.
Anyway, we continued driving, heading south (ish) for 15 miles and turning left onto Glacier Point Road off CA 41. It's 15 miles from there to the end of the road and right before that is Washburn Point.
From here you can see Half Dome in profile, rising 4737 feet from the valley floor.
Being October, most of the waterfalls had dried up, but the two on the Merced River still had a bit of flow. Vernal Falls,
and Nevada Falls.
Finally, here is a close up of Half Dome showing the "lip" at the top. Crazy people like to hang out there.
The road ends one mile away at Glacier Point.
People doing crazy things at Yosemite is not new. I found proof that it dates back over 100 years. Look at the sign below.
On the left side there is a photo that looks like two ants on a nose. Blown up it looks like this:
Yep, that is two gals dancing on a rock with nothing below them except the valley floor over 3000 feet below. I found the rock.
The flat part at the end is about three feet by six feet. Crazy!
I leaned over the edge just a bit to get some photos of the valley.
You can see The Ahwahnee about 1/3 down and 1/3 in from the right. Zoomed in in looks like this:
I leaned out a little farther.
At the bottom center of the next photo is the swimming pool at Curry Village. Glenn declined my dare to jump into it but he did point out Half Dome.
I took a close up,
and then leaned WAY over to get the whole rock.
Enough. I walked shakily back to my car and we left.
A classic view of Yosemite Valley is from the Tunnel View lookout just after the tunnel on CA 41 with El Capitan on the left and Half Dome in the middle.
Back at Upper Pines campground Glenn took off and I watched Squirrel TV.
The game plan these critters use is to hide under your car and as soon as you open a door they dart inside. Doesn't matter to them that you are standing right there. Melanie finally showed up with her two story Element.
The wind drag probably hurts the gas mileage. We had a campfire and called it a night. Wednesday we walked Upper Pines campground.
This is the largest campground in the valley with over 230 sites. While I found plenty of nice ones, the best are along the outer edge of the last loop, like #216.
You get plenty of privacy and there is a small creek running just behind the bear boxes. The best of those is #240.
It is a huge site with no one on your left as well. I liked the rig in #182.
I could make that work for me.
Afterwards we headed to Yosemite Village to walk through all the attractions. And the stores. Melanie loves camping stuff and had to check out everything the sport shop offered. Everything. But she did end up buying a few zipper pulls and some stickers to help stimulate the economy.
On the way back we stopped to take a photo of Half Dome when the face finally was not in a shadow.
Thursday we walked Lower Pines campground.
This is the smallest campground in the valley with 60 sites (North Pines has over 80). Wait, that is not entirely true. There is a campground called Camp 4 near Yosemite Village with 35 sites. It is walk-in and doesn't take reservations. They assign six campers to each site so you had better not be shy because you WILL meet new friends.
There are some nice spots here, #39 being one of them on the Merced River (right behind the wooden fence). North Pines is on the other side.
Site #43 caught my eye because of the rig.
I prefer the smaller yellow one from Upper Pines but this would work as well. I have a thing for dirt bikes.
Thursday afternoon we relaxed in camp. Well, I relaxed reading my Nook while Melanie chased squirrels out of her car. They are quick as I mentioned earlier.
Friday was checkout day and the skies were becoming cloudy as we left the valley and headed east. Clouds are great for pictures so I made one last stop for a Half Dome photo from my favorite spot.
I also made a panorama photo combining four pictures.
I will explain how to do this with ANY camera in a future photo tip blog post.
Before turning south on US 395 I stopped for some photos at Tenaya Lake and Tioga Pass.
I know I took photos from the same locations a few weeks earlier, but light is always changing and that makes every day unique.
I left Melanie at the junction of CA 120 and US 395. She headed north to Lake Tahoe and I headed south. Turning right on Interstate 15 I chased the sun home.
Over five months and almost 9000 miles. From the wet Pacific Coast in May and June to the heat and a ruined tent in central Washington in July. Forest fires and a tweaked foot in August and September. A magical fall finish in Yosemite. Seeing old friends and meeting new ones. That is what camping is all about. I hope you enjoyed reading about my trip this year. I am ready to go again. I guess I am crazy as well.
Yosemite also gave me a parting gift. As you know I turned 50 on June 8th during this trip. I was trying to come up with a witty response in case anyone ever asked me how old I was. Yosemite came through. I am HISTORIC!
Regards, Park Ranger