Thursday, July 22, 2010

Yosemite -- Curry Village

Mornings at Curry Village in Yosemite start early.  It reminded me of a NYC summer morning when the windows are open; a few cars passing, garbage trucks packing trash, a car alarm going off for 10 seconds along with the conversation of a passing couples.  The 80 degree heat the previous afternoon had fallen to about 50 degrees.   In the middle of the night I had gotten up to cover the boys and found Riley uncovered and curled up in the fetal position, knees and face down.  He wasn’t shivering but he was obviously cold.  Two blankets per bed were provided and we used them all.

As planned we rented bicycles about 9am and started out toward Mirror Lake.  The trails in the Valley are not well marked so we made several unnecessary detours, but no matter, it was all beautiful.  Mirror Lake is slowly disappearing, turning back into just part of the river – its natural evolution as the sign said.  We had fun wading in the shallow freezing water walking from sandbar to sandbar to keep our feet from turning blue.  With our cold water squealing we woke a coyote who was sleeping about 100 yards away underneath some brush.  He stood up and gazed over in our direction, he was not impressed.

This day, like every other before it, was spectacular, clear air, bright blue sky, warm temperature and a light refreshing breeze.  We left Mirror Lake in search of the Ahwahnee Lodge (again).   We diverted to Yosemite Village and decided to have an early lunch as there was no line at the outdoor café.  After getting 2 stuffed bears for the boys (big brother bear and little brother bear, aptly named Sequoia and Yosemite) we headed off to lower Yosemite falls.

        I bet your wondering why it’s called lower Yosemite Falls instead of anything else, well, because directly above it is another falls (upper Yosemite Falls) which is about the same size as lower Yosemite falls. Later I was not very happy dad will tell you why……..I YIE YIE! (Riley)

Again the boys had a ball climbing over the huge boulders leading up to the base of the falls.  Max took his place as trailblazer and Riley and I followed closely behind.  Before biking back we stopped at the end of another trail which gave us a spectacular view of both Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls.   Then it was on to rafting.

When we finally got to the raft rental desk the line was around the block and in the hot sun.  We joined the end of the line with some trepidation and after about 10 minutes of hardly moving forward we decided to come back in the morning and try again.  Riley was particularly upset as he had his heart set on rafting.  Ice cream from the Curry Village store didn’t abate his disappointment much (though Max was quite happy with the whole thing).  We headed back to our tent for a rest and after an hour spent reading (and sleeping) we rode over to the trail head for Vernal Falls and Half Dome.  Someday (before too long) I would like to return to Yosemite to hike the Half Dome trail.  It looks extremely difficult (10-12 hours with a mile of elevation) but the pay off at the top must be incredible.  Today we branched off to Vernal Falls which was plenty strenuous for us.  It was about 1.5 miles long and rising in altitude about 1,500 feet. 

Our trusty trailblazer Max led the way up with adventurous determination.  The views along the way were breathtaking.  There are several side canyons extending up and back about a mile, each with their own water flow cascading down to the central canyon river, the Merced.  The trail eventually became steps that the National Park Service (bless them) had cut into the granite many years ago. 

Near the top we heard and felt the thunderous power of the falling water.  In contrast, we saw a long delicate rainbow extending across the falls and were bathed in a fine cooling mist.

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