A few weeks ago I flew out to California to meet up with some friends from graduate school. We spent a few nights in Curry Village at the heart of Yosemite National Park. Curry Village is the cheapest option for staying in the park. It consists of a bunch of campsites, quasi-permanent tents, and cabins. We stayed in one of the quasi-permanent tents.
Because Yosemite is in the middle of bear country, we had to take several precautions with anything that might smell appealing to a bear. This includes any type of food or flavored drink as well as deodorants, toothpaste, and perfume. These items all had to be stored in a bear locker just outside the tent. I was reluctant to go to sleep without my perfume but I managed.
On the first day, Karen and I arrived in Yosemite early in the morning. We explored around a little from the car stopping at some of the main overlooks. The following picture was taken at the swinging bridge pullout. I didn’t notice the reflection of the waterfall when I was taking the picture but it turned out pretty well.
Eventually we got out and started a hike to Upper Yosemite Falls. This was a tough hike – very steep. I tried this hike last year with Russ and utterly failed because we didn’t bring enough water. Well, I repeated the same mistake this year. Karen and I got close to the top but decided to turn back once we ran out of water.
Here’s a picture of Karen about 1/3 of the way up. We started in that valley behind her. And by the way, Karen was kicking my butt on the hike – even though my strides are 2x as big as hers.
Here’s a picture of the Upper Yosemite Falls with some of autumn colors in the foreground.
After returning from the hike, we went to the Curry Village front office and got our tent for the next few days. Shortly afterwards, we met up with Amy and Shrikant and had pizza for dinner. After that hike, I had no problem falling to sleep that night.
The following day, Shrikant and I headed out pretty early to get some photos. We left Amy and Karen thinking it would take them an hour to get ready. However, about 5 minutes after we left, Amy and Karen were ready to go. They caught up with us about 15 minutes later but Shrikant and I had trouble explaining ourselves later.
Anyhow, leaving early was a great decision as we got some good shots of the sunrise, including the picture below. This was taken as the sun was rising over the distant mountains and illuminating the tree and surrounding fog.
The following photo was taken in the same area. This is actually the same tree as above except the sun is now to the left of the image. We saw a lot of good autumn colors during this trip (mostly yellows).
The four of us then spent about 45 minutes driving to Glacier Point – an overlook 3000 feet above Yosemite Valley. Here’s Amy, Shrikant, and Karen at one of the overlooks. That’s my shadow – the only way I like to be in a photo. The waterfall above Shrikant’s left shoulder is where Karen and I hiked the previous day.
If you want proof that I was at Glacier Point, here’s a photo of all four of us.
After spending 30 minutes or so exploring Glacier Point, we headed back down the mountain and towards Mariposa Grove to see the Giant Sequoias.We hiked around Mariposa Grove for about an hour taking pictures of the Sequoias.
A good portion of our time at Mariposa Grove was spent taking a dozen photos with Shrikant, Amy, and I doing the “Blue Steel” pose from Zoolander. Shrikant was the best – it’s obvious that he’s spent some time in front of a mirror practicing.
We headed back to the campsite to pack up and eat dinner. My friends had to leave around 10pm in order for Shrikant to catch a flight in Phoenix the following afternoon. After we finished our pizza and packed up, I wiped the tears from my cheek as my friends drove away. I fell asleep almost as soon as I got back to my tent. Unfortunately, my sleep didn’t last long as a bunch of screaming woke me up around 2am. It sounded like some of my neighbors were scaring a bear from their campsite. It took me a few hours to get back to sleep.
The following day, I woke up and headed to Tioga Pass – a road that goes up into the mountains. I drove all the way into Mono Lake, California. I passed some nice Aspen trees along the way.
I drove around the Mono Lake region including the Silver and Juno lakes. This area was beautiful. If it wasn’t so difficult to get there, I’d definitely consider buying vacation property in the Mono Lake region. Here’s a picture of some people on the shore of Silver Lake. Here’s a map of the Silver Lake area.
I grabbed a sandwich at a gas station and ate my lunch on the drive back to Yosemite Valley. I got back around mid-afternoon. I spent the next couple of hours photographing various sites in the valley. This is a church (I think) in the Valley. I bet this would be a great photo in the winter.
As I was driving out of the park towards my hotel, I snapped this last photo inside a bunch of yellow trees. Ironically, I think it turned out to be one of my best photos from the whole trip. Notice the green orb in the photo? That’s caused by reflections among the glass elements of the lens. It’s usually only a problem when shooting directly into the sun like I am doing here. Anyhow, I will eventually photoshop it out.
I drove to my hotel in Mariposa, CA and enjoyed the comfortable bed and my own personal bathroom. I had a great hamburger and watched a few hours of tv prior to going to sleep. The following morning I drove to Sacramento and caught a flight back to Dallas.