Monday, May 11, 2015
After repeated attempts we were finally able to get a cancellation for a campsite in Yosemite Valley’s North Pines campground. When we decided to visit Sequoia and Kings Canyon, Yosemite was the next logical stop so I checked the recreation.gov website several times a day in hopes that someone had cancelled. A few weeks ago I got lucky and snagged a site for two nights. We wanted to stay longer but have been watching the weather for the next front bringing rain and snow to the area. Just before we left Coarsegold it looked like we would have one more good day, so I managed to find a site for another night. That accomplished, we headed off for Yosemite.
Our site, located in the North Pines campground, turned out to be a fairly decent one, level and no other site on our door side. Our neighbors on the other side were quite close but they were three quiet adults. Bathrooms, trash, and water were a little farther to the right past our picnic table. There is a dump station at the Upper Pines campground but we didn’t need it for three nights. Although we showed a bar or two of 3G Verizon, we were unable to load email even with the amplifier. There is wifi available for a fee at the lodge.
Back in July/August of 2013 we spent a month near Mono Lake on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada and got to explore and hike on that side of Yosemite, but we only did one day trip to the Valley. August is not the time to be impressed with Yosemite Valley. The traffic congestion and people (lots of children!) on foot and bicycles was a big turn-off for us, but I have always wanted to come in May when the waterfalls are at their prime. Even though the snowfall was minimal this year the falls are a sight to see. After we got settled we decided to spend our first afternoon riding bikes along the paved trails. We didn’t have to go far before we saw the famous Yosemite Falls, both upper and lower.
First a stop at Mirror Lake.
Then a glimpse of Upper Yosemite Fall.
Then both Upper and Lower Falls. Total drop from the top of the upper to the base of the lower is 2,425 feet. Photos just don’t do it justice.
After a stop at the visitor center in Yosemite Village for a hiking trail map, we continued on to the trail for Lower Yosemite Fall. Being paved and an easy walk it was quite crowded, but we locked the bikes and followed the masses to the viewpoint.
The bike path took us through meadows and over bridges, and once we got away from the village and falls area we were pleased that we didn’t see too many other people.
We rode 13 miles, which took us several hours since we stopped frequently for photos and just to take in the scenery. Our last stop was at the historic Ahwahnee Hotel built in 1927, a beautiful rustic building in an idyllic setting at the base of Half Dome.
Biking was a pleasant way to spend our first day in the park, and gave us a good idea where everything was located. The next day we opted for a scenic drive and a hike.