Vacation, The Great

September 1, 2009

Vacation was fantastic. Every year, we take a hiking trip with our good friend, Claudia. She is my unofficially adopted Bolivian sister. A few people have thought it a little strange that our single friend would enjoy hanging out with two smug marrieds for over a week, but itâ??s worked out well for us. She and Bill get along, she and I get along, Bill and I usually get along. My biggest anxiety over traveling with her is that she is very fit and healthy, and I am not as much so. It leads me to worrying that I am holding her back on the hiking, but I think thatâ??s just my issue.

Claudia kindly agreed to fly out to California from DC and spend a week at Yosemite. With my being out of work, it was great for us to be able to not have to spend money on airfare. We all saved money on not having to get a rental car and Bill and I agreed to cover all the gas and hiking beverages, snacks, and supplies. It balanced out, I think.

Claudia flew in on Thursday and we hung out. On Friday, we went to the big sale at Joann. Claudia is a great sewist and it was very fun to have a friend to fabric shop with. We saved so much money! Between the two of us, we spend $130 and saved $150 (roughly). The big savings came from patterns. We got 5 patterns for $5, and they normall cost about $15 apiece. They also had thread at 50% off, and a lot of fabrics at 50% off too. We didnâ??t pay full price for anything. We were having so much fun we lost track of time and almost missed out on lunch at Google.

We made lunch just in time, and it was delicious (pizza, brisket and mac and cheese and a banana cream dessert). Bill gave us a tour of the campus. We even took two bikes for a spin to get back to our car.

On Saturday we left for Yosemite. We stayed in Lee Vining for 3 nights, a town on the east side of the park. Sunday was our first day of hiking and it rained. The rain did not stop us though we werenâ??t thrilled about it. We hiked to Devilâ??s Postpile (a national monument) and to Rainbow Falls (which I have dubbed NonRainbow Falls since there wasnâ??t a rainbow in the rain). This area used to be part of Yosemite, but isnâ??t anymore. Devilâ??s Postpile was really cool, especially from the top where they were almost perfect hexagons. I hadnâ??t seen anything like it. The weather did clear up in the afternoon and it ended up being a nice day. We stopped for dinner and then went to see the Tufas (mineral formations in Mono Lake). We saw then at sunset and it was beautiful. I was obsessed with the angry clouds hanging over the mountain. We hiked 6 miles in total.

Monday was our first day in Yosemite. Our plan was to hike North Dome. We hiked about .73 miles trying to find the trailhead and ended up getting in the car and driving to a different spot where we picked up the trail right way. I noticed that we were heading downhill at the beginning of the hike and knew that was going to be extra tough on the way back. It was a beautiful hike, and we had the trail to ourselves for the most part. We got to the point we thought was North Dome and Claudia had taken off her backpack thinking it was time for lunch and then we saw we still had a half mile to go. It actually turned out to be a mile and was downhill. It took us about 40 minutes but was worth it. The view was spectacular. We sat and ate lunch. Took lots and lots of pictures. Rested. And then headed back. It was tough going. The very beginning was uphill and then was downhill for a good part until the final .7 miles which was uphill and very tough. The hike to North Dome was about 10.4 miles total, plus the .73 miles we spent looking for the trail. It was a long day on the legs and we were exhausted. That is the longest hike Iâ??ve ever done.

Tuesday we checked out of our hotel to hike and then drive to the west side of the park where we would be spending our last three days. We did one more hike on the east side, Lembert Dome and Dog Lake. Once again, we thought that we had made it to the top of Lembert Dome only to find we still had another .5 miles, this time uphill. Steeply uphill. More like light rock climbing than hiking. I was determined to make it to the top though. I told Claudia that the last bit was hard for me on so many levels â?? mentally, physically, emotionally. My fear of heights wasnâ??t too bad because it was wide, but I was afraid of falling backwards and rolling off the dome. There was one part that I almost couldnâ??t do, but somehow I found the strength, got a handhold and made it. Claudia offered me her hand but I was afraid of pulling her off her perch and seeing her roll off the dome. Rolling off the dome was a BIG concern for me. But I made it. Billâ??s vertigo kicked in and he stayed back from the final climb. After Lembert Dome, we hiked to Dog Lake. It was beautiful and we found a spot to have lunch and rest. Claudia and I put our feet in the water (brrrrrrâ?¦). It was pretty much all downhill on the way back and a pleasant day in all. This hike was a total of 6.6 miles.

Wednesday we spent our first day in Yosemite Valley. There were definitely more people and it was a little more crowded, but not too bad. We decided to do a strenuous hike of 7.4 miles and an elevation change of 2700 feet. We figured that we wouldnâ??t have a problem after all the other hiking we had done, and that it would be similar to a hike we did at the Grand Canyon. Ha! We definitely started strong, but it was truly a strenuous hike. It took us over 3 hours to get about 2.5 miles and 1900 feet up and I decided that I had gone far enough. I could tell I was getting tired as I made quite a few questionable foot placements and started thinking how easy it would be to break an ankle. I offered to wait for Claudia and Bill to make it to the top and back but they had enough too. We were at the perfect spot for lunch and a little rest and lots of pictures. While we were on our way up, we heard what sounded like thunder, or a low flying jet, and then a minute later saw a huge plume of dust. We figured it was a rock slide and it was as we saw on the news. Our trip downhill was very challenging. It was very rocky and required our full attention. We met up with some people with 1.2 miles left and they told us to be careful of a bear in the trail. We didnâ??t see the bear, which was a good thing though we were a little disappointed. It was an exhausting day, having hiked a total of 5 miles.

On the way out of the park, we saw a little light on El Capitan. It was people climbing El Cap. At night. In the dark. It was crazy. I wonder if it is less forboding at night when you canâ??t see how high up you are. Or how far down it is. A few miles and minutes later, we saw the fire. It was mesmerizing in the dark. The sky was orange and pink, and then we saw the flames. It would have been beautiful if we hadnâ??t known the devastation it was leaving. Last year, at Yellowstone, we saw an area that had been burned 30 years earlier, and it was still very obvious that there had been a forest fire. Even after 30 years.

Thursday we were heading into the park from El Portal when we came across a fire helicopter that was hovering and filling up its water tank. It was cool, but again sad because we knew what it meant. Our highlight of the day was the bear we saw! He was about 100 feet from the road, taking a walk in the woods. He looked young, maybe 1 or 2 years old. Not a cub, but not full sized. Unfortunately we didnâ??t get a good picture, but I have a picture in my head. We went to Wawona in the southern part of the park. We stopped at Glacier Point and had a great view of the valley. It filled up with smoke, but then cleared up 45 minutes later. While hiking, we did see two fighter jets in the sky, probably on maneuvers. Bill wondered if they were checking on the fire while they were out. We also saw other smaller airplanes dropping water and flame retardant on the fire. I think we spent more time watching fire related activities than we did hiking, but it was hard not to watch. We did a hike to Taft Point which triggered my vertigo. My stomach did somersaults the entire time we were up there. There were also these fissures, little cracks that had gotten really big and I couldnâ??t look at them. We did see a chipmunk who showed us his belly. I love the bellies. Before we headed back to the hotel, we stopped in Yosemite Valley to check out the Visitor Center, and we saw two fawns and a momma deer. I love the babies!! We hiked 3 miles in total.

Friday was our last day. We woke up to find ask on the car, and it was pretty smokey. The fire was about 2 miles east of us. We checked out of the hotel and drove into the park, again heading for Wawona. We stopped at a little Market and Gas Station where 9 fire fighting vehicles were stopped. Most of them were coming down from having fought the fire all night. Two were stationed there as backup. That team was from Los Banos and had gotten the call at 10pm, making it to El Portal by 3am. The helicopter was making faster rounds; it filled up 6 times while we were sitting having our bagels for breakfast. They were definitely trying to hit the fire hard. We did a short hike to Bridalveil Fall. It was very pretty and there were lots of people so we didnâ??t stay long. Then we got in the car and drove down to Mariposa Grove to see some Giant Sequoias. To say they were huge is an understatement. It was really amazing. They have bark that is 1 to 2 feet thick. I was a little disappointed that you couldnâ??t get close to them, but apparently they have fragile root systems. I do want them to be around for others to see so I got over my disappointment. And after that we got in the car and headed home. We ended up hiking about 3 miles in total.

So that was vacation, the great. We hiked almost 29 miles in the first 4 days, and then only 6 in the last two. A little unbalanced, but our feet were tired, and the smoke was bothering my asthma. We saw what we wanted to see, and left some things to see for future visits. It was really, really beautiful.

Tomorrow I will cover vacation, the weird.

Tags: ,

5:20 pm / permalink / 0 Comments

No comments yet. Be the first.

Leave a reply


About Me

Welcome to my spot on the web where I talk about needlework, crafts, and [many] other random things.

A few tidbits about me: I met my husband in college, flirting over tuba letters in the Penn Band. Our dog, CJ, and our cat, Sabrina, round out our family. I'm a sewist, knitter and needlepointer, and an occasional scrapbooker. I love organizing, reading, making jewelry, and hiking. A Chicago girl at heart, I am an avid follower the Cubs, Bears, and Blackhawks.

You can email me at mlynapier [at] pobox [dot] com. Thank you for stopping by!

My Etsy Shop

A place for me to sell my handmade goods. My style? It's fun and funky with a hint of romance.

My Photos


Techie Stuff