Saturday, October 14, 2017

10/12 Yosemite Tour to Glacier Point

The last time I was in Yosemite was four years ago, and I got snowed out the morning after I arrived.  A heavy wet snow caused little streams to flow across the campground and it took very little time for every tent camper to leave.  Tents occupy about 85% of the campground sites--lots of young and old who like to hike.  Those of us in RVs had the place to ourselves but it was very cold and the snow caused the road to Glacier Point and the Mariposa Grove to close.  

For that reason, I really wanted to see Glacier Point this time, but I knew it was a very long and curving road up to the top, so I chose to sign up for a four-hour bus tour.  Much easier than wrestling my large beast of a motorhome up a scary road. 

We made a stop on the way up at the scenic pullover area near the tunnel on U.S. 120.  This gave us a great view of the valley and El Capitan on the left.  

The views in Yosemite are so fantastic that it is hard not to keep taking photos.  

This is looking west from the bridge towards the entrances to the park.  There are three entrances from the west:  120 or Big Oak Flat Road, 140 or El Portal Road, and 41 or Wawona Road.   The road below is El Portal Road, which follows the river directly west.  Just west of here, Big Oak Flat Road heads up and over the mountains to the north, and this is the route I took driving into Yosemite on Monday.  I will be taking the El Portal Road out on Saturday morning.  

The bus took the Wawona Road to Glacier Point.  It follows a ridge that provides an overlook at the Clark wildfire that is causing all the smoke in the valley.  They are not putting this fire out because it is not near any buildings and letting it burn will naturally reduce the vegetation on the forest floor and enable new trees to seed and grow.

I was surprised at how far the walk was to the viewing areas at Glacier Point, as shown by this map.

It gets cold very fast in Yosemite and since it was already 3:30 p.m. when we arrived, it was really getting chilly, as evidenced by the coats people are wearing.  I had on long sleeves, a sweatshirt, and a windbreaker, and felt chilly.  
Heading toward the view of Half-Dome.

You can see Half-Dome in the distance, but almost all the area you see here is complete wilderness.  Only the narrow valley is really occupied.  The views would have been a lot crisper if there had not been so much smoke.

You can see Bridalveil Falls in the center of this photo.  Usually by this time of year there is no water in the falls at all, but this past year was relatively wet.

A closeup of Bridalveil Falls.

We are almost as high as Half-Dome.  Interesting view of the rock patterns in this monolith.

A view of the valley towards where it ends, beyond the occupied tourist areas.

This is looking down into the valley. 

The large building in the middle is the Ahwanee Hotel, now called the Majestic Hotel.  The park changed hotel management companies, and apparently the old company owned the name and wanted $60 million, so the new company just changed the name, which is a shame since this is such an historic place.

Somewhere down here to the right are the campgrounds.  Notice the shade already covering it at about 4:00 p.m.  If I ever come here again, I will try for an earlier tour for a better view and a little more warmth.

Hazy closeup of one of the campgrounds--don't know which one.
It was 6:00 p.m. by the time we got back to the drop-off point and another hour on the shuttle to get back to my campground, so it was very dark by the time I got home.  I had to use my cell phone as a flashlight to walk.  Plus, it was REALLY cold by then--brrrrrr!

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