Wednesday, July 8th [Day 35] – Yosemite

We had a great day at Yosemite. We left the cabin at about 7:15am. It was difficult getting Emily going. I got up early and loaded the bikes the in the truck. I should have made some sandwiches but at least I packed a six pack of water bottles and two bags of Cheerios.

The total distance from the cabin to the Yosemite Valley floor in about 75 miles. The drive started pretty easy. Down the mountain on CA 108 to the junction with CA 49 heading south. CA 49 then leads to CA 120 and moves quickly until the Priest Grade. 8 miles of slow, steep and windy road. Then things moved fast again through Groveland… which reminded me of Sweeney (was he Grandpa Barrios’ brother?). I also remember the adults making a trip to the Iron Door Saloon from Family Camp one time. We passed that too.

After the turn off for San Jose Family Camp (I wish we had had some extra time to take that detour) the road got a bit more windy and you could still see plenty of evidence of the Rim Fire. The park entrance is about 20 miles from the valley floor. I got the newspaper they hand out and a map. It is a windy drive down into the valley, but very pretty.

Once down on the valley floor, I pulled into parking which I thought was the Visitors Center. The drive had taken about two hours. After we parked, we started walking to find the bathrooms prior to going to the Visitors Center. Then I saw a sign that said the Visitors Center was a 10 minute walk along the bike path, or you could take a shuttle bus. I realized we were just in a parking area – no where close to the Visitors Center. Back to the truck and we unloaded the bikes. We were off.

After a short ride we arrived at the Visitors Center. We got our National Park Passports stamped and the Junior Ranger worksheets. I also got a map that showed the bike trails around the valley floor.

We then hit a nearby deli and got sandwiches…. as breakfast was kind of skipped in an effort to get out the door. Once fueled up with a bit of food, we took our bikes over to Yosemite Falls. Emily was really excited to see the waterfall. You can’t ride bikes up too far but after we parked them, it was a short hike with a pretty view of the lower falls.

Back on the bikes, we swung across the valley floor and crossed the Merced River on a bridge. When we were coming up behind people on the bikes, I gave my little bike bell a ring to get them to scoot over.

Our next stop was Camp Curry and their General Store where we got ice cream and took a quick break. Then we continued on to the Mirror Lake trailhead. We made a short hike to the lake (which looked much different than I remembered it), found some rocks, took a break and drank water.

Back on our bikes and heading down the road, we saw a small black bear just off the side of the road. He was on a fallen log, pulling it apart – probably looking for grubs. The bear was about 20 feet away.

After more riding, we stopped at The Ahwahnee – the fancy resort hotel on the valley floor. We got water there and rested a bit. Nothing we could live without in the gift shop (lots of fancy stuff).

Back to the Visitors Center. We worked on the Junior Ranger worksheet, then attended a Junior Ranger program conducted by one of the rangers. After that, the girls got their Junior Ranger badges. In recognition of their achievement, we took a trip to the gift shop where Sarah got a Yosemite Half Dome baseball cap and Emily got a puzzle with a picture of a black bear on it.

A short bike ride back to the truck. The parking lot was PACKED. I am so glad we took the bikes. After I packed up the truck (now 3:30pm) we made our way back out. Cars parked everywhere. I am glad we got there when we did.

The drive back had more traffic than the drive there.

A great day – the girls had a lot of fun.

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