YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK August 13-19, 2006
The Hiken Girls took a hiking trip to Yosemite during August 2006. I’m thankful to say that all went very well! We took 7 days for the entire trip, August 13-19. We could have completed it in 6 but we decided to take time to become accustom to the altitude change. Went through Delaware National Companies for our reservations to hike the “High Sierra Camps.” The staff in Yosemite Valley seemed very confused when we used the term “hut to hut to hut”. Phone number 559-252-4848 got our reservations in 2004. (See end of story for other web sites.) Our trip was to happen in 2005, however, it was snowed in and the trip was cancelled by DNC. Most of the people in our camps had the same experience. Here is a “journal” and pictures of our trip.
August 13, 2006
Leaving Phoenix at 6:30 am we arrived in Fresno at 4:30 pm. Found a screaming deal at Days Inn located on Parkview Rd. just off the highway. The room had 3 queen size beds to accommodate all 5 of us. Using an AAA discount number we got the room for $95.00!
August 14, 2006
We left Fresno after breakfast at Denny’s located in the same parking lot with Days Inn. Our waiter was very attentive and was very friendly.
Upon arriving at Yosemite National Park we headed to Wawona Hotel and took a shuttle bus to Mariposa Grove, Sequoia National Park. Taking a tram through the park cost $16.00. Well worth the cost! Sequoia trees are just phenomenal! FYI The pinecones need fire to open so the seeds can spread! Some of the huge Sequoia trees have burnt places on them half way up the bark.
After the tour we arrived in Curry Village. What a shock! People everywhere and nowhere to park! Curry Village is the place locals come for short vacations. There was a line 20 people deep to get a pizza! Next time we will consider White Wolf Lodge. Our living quarters for the night was a tent-cabin. Came with a table, 4 twin beds, sheets, pillow, blankets (all was clean but we had to make our own bed) and candles for light. Very comfortable! Of course, beer, wine, and gin & tonic would make anywhere comfortable. The evening cooled off very quickly after the sun went down. It was mandatory to put our ice chest and other food items in a bear box.
August 15, 2006
Up early this morning to get a bite of breakfast at the Coffee Shop. This is the only eatery open at 6:00am. in Curry Village.
Afterward, we stood in line by the office to get our one-way ticket to Tuolumne Meadows Lodge. The cost for the shuttle was $14.50. The bus comes at 8:00 am. The scenery was spectacular! Went by Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, Yosemite Village Hotel, several lakes and lots of “post-cards pictures” to see. We arrived at 11:00 am. Elevation at Tuolumne Meadows Lodge is 8,500’. The cabin-tents were the same as in Curry Village, very cute and adequate. Each one came with 4 twin size beds (beds were made up fresh when we arrived), table, potbelly stove, wood, and candles for lighting. Restrooms and showers with hot water were available.
With the rest of the day to relax and get accustom to the altitude we filled out postcards, played crossword puzzles and took pictures of the river that runs right by the Lodge.
Dinner was rather pricey! Trout dinner was $17.95 and glass of house wine was $6.50. Hamburger, which was very large and lots of accompaniments was $13.95.
The Lodge Store had several items for sale such as snacks, T-shirts, sweatshirts, candy, postcards and trinkets, etc. You can buy wine and beer all day.
In the evening there were 2 bonfires. One for the guest to relax and another that was put on by a Park Ranger. We chose the Ranger for the evening. Found out that you can hike with her/him as a group and do a long loop hike, around 60 miles. She prepared all her followers with information about what to expect. There is a cost for this but we didn’t hear what it was.
August 16, 2006
We all awoke the next morning around 6:30 am. Breakfast was all the traditional selections at the Lodge. There was no need to hurry as we only had 7.8 miles to hike for the day. Our elevation gain would be 1,800’ over the eight miles. No problem…..We finally got started hiking around 9:30 am. The uphill would not have been too much of a problem had it not been at such a high altitude! There was still snow on the mountain that we walked towards all day. We all could feel our chests getting heavy from the lack of oxygen.
Arrived at Vogelsang Lodge at 2:30 pm. The Lodge had very little to offer as far as snacks or anything else. No beer, wine, or showers. They did have free lemon-aid for anyone who wanted some. Toilets were a hole in the ground over a toilet. Sinks had running water. Yipee!!!!
We took a .01 mile hike to Fletchers Lake. The water was cold but felt wonderful to soak our feet. The water in the creeks and lakes at this location were ok to drink.
Getting settled in our tent-cabin was a little different. We were responsible for bringing our own sheets or liner to use on the bed. We knew it was going to be cold here due to the number of really thick wool blankets left on our beds. The usual came with the cabin. However, these had a wooden cubby hole shelf to put your stuff in.
Dinner was very good! Ravioli, French rolls, salad, squash soup, green beans and carrots, and peanut butter chocolate brownies for dessert. The chef was able to put together a curry tofu vegetable soup for one of our hikers who is gluten intolerant. Would have been really good without the curry. After dinner we tried to walk off the hugh dinner we consumed. We saw 3 deer but were unable to take good pictures because it was getting too dark.
A good sleep sack is essential at Vogelsang! The wool blankets are good quality but don’t work well without the sleep sack. We used silk ones we bought at the Sportsman and some through Campmore catalog. The rectangle one worked best but the pot-bellied stove worked really good around 4:00 a.m.! Judy said the mummy one worked ok for her.
August 17, 2006
Woke up around 6:00 a.m. with plenty of time before the 7:00 a.m. kitchen ring to come and get coffee, several types of tea or hot chocolate. With eggs, pancakes, bacon, oatmeal, orange juice, and fruit, how could we resist!
We started hiking around 9:00 a.m. All is downhill from here. Vogelsang to Merced Lake was around 9 miles. We had to cross a stream here and there with no difficulties.
Once we got to the downhill side of the mountain there was the longest water cascade we had ever seen! In early spring when the snow is starting to melt this area must be awesome! Wild flowers along this area were also abundant! Wild Chives with their lavender flowers and daisies were everywhere. We felt very blessed that we were going downhill as it felt like it went on forever! We had only gone a few miles when we came across this happy elderly couple, about 80 coming up the hill. We told them that the uphill from there was still a ways to go to get to the top. They said they had done the hike before and was aware of what was ahead of them. We were shocked! Only when we reached Merced Lake did we realize just how much uphill they had come before our warning! We stopped for lunch at Bab***** Lake. Wonderful stop for lunch! Lots of places to soak your feet! And picture opportunities everywhere. Still going downhill we reached the Ranger Station only to realize we had another mile to go…..shoot! However, I would not have missed this next mile for nothing! Sugar Pines and Sequoias made the area feel like you were in a fairy tale! We took several pictures here trying to show how small we felt but the pictures didn’t do it justice! This is a must see area! Pinecones from the Sugar Pines were the size of our arm! Huge!!! We finally reached Merced Lake Camp around 3:00 p.m. There is no need to hurry to camp as dinner is not served till 6:30 p.m. Lemon-aid was free and very refreshing! Showers were very refreshing but only luke-warm. We all needed to wash out some clothes. This was a definite adventure! The sign said to go to the back of the showers to wash your clothes in a tub. After finding the tub we discover that the technique for washing clothes is quite different than the usual “scrub between your hands”. In the tub you’ll find a bucket with instructions on how to wash your clothes. 1) Place your dirty clothes in the bucket 2) Fill bucket with water just over dirty clothes. 3) Add bio-degradable soap (was provided) 4) Use TOILET PLUNGER Till clothes are clean! (Plunger is for clothes only) 5) Rinse in the same manner 6) Wring clothes with wringer (provided on the side of the tub). This was a hoot! However, I was really amazed how clean my clothes got with this process. A community clothes-line is provided in between two tent-cabins. The clothes that were on the line appeared to be mostly long sleeve shirts and pants. Masculine looking stuff. Some of the “Hiken Girls” thought flashy colored bras and bikini under-ware would dress up the line….(I hung my Granny under-ware and bra by the tent-cabin.)
Merced Lake Lodge was set up very nicely. The tent-cabins were set up in a horseshoe configuration and a nice fire pit in the center with lots of chairs and benches to rest your tired feet. Thanks to Colleen and June we had afternoon “ale” to go along with one of the hikers at the fire pit who played a flute for entertainment.
Dinner was the same time as the last camp. Had Haddock fish for a main course and watched several deer from out table but still we have seen no bear….darn!
August 18, 2006
Knowing we had 14 miles to hike we got up earlier so we could get packed and start hiking right after breakfast. It was all downhill again…..shouldn’t be too bad. (Grand Canyon hike is downhill for 10 miles…..what’s 4 more miles!)
Leaving camp we followed Merced River. There was one spot where the river turned into a small lake and it was so calm that you could see the reflection of the trees and mountains around it. What a photo opp!
We tried to pick up the pace but the scenery was to die for! Everywhere the path took us was another post-card picture! We passed through riparian areas and wooded areas and then all turned to smooth granite. Small boulders and rocks were in place to show the way of the path. Still all was downhill. In many of the paths large boulders had been cut for a foundation and smaller rocks placed in between to make a perfect path. Some areas were slick to walk on. We thought perhaps the WPA in the ‘30’s may have done the work. Not sure?
The 2nd half of the hike was quite a surprise! Just before Nevada Falls there were J-Johns. Nevada Falls and Verdal Falls were magnificent! More (clean) people were appearing at this point. They were all coming from Curry Village for day hikes. The path was more like stairs. About 5 miles of stairs! (OK, now I want up-hill!) From here you can see the valley below. Story book pictures! We were unable to get the depth of the valley on camera. However, at this point all was downhill and nothing but man-made stairs ahead of you.
People were interesting in this last 5 miles. Girls wearing their bikini and one guy in his 20’s was hiking the entire thing barefooted. He said he does the hike every year and has done so the last 3. “Liked to feel the earth beneath his feet…….?” He also had a collapsible spoon on a chain and lots of earthy looking beads around his neck to go along with the beanie cap on his head? Pretty strange.
June overheard some kids saying, “we stunk”. She told them, in no uncertain terms, that if they had walked 14 miles that day that they too might not smell so good.
We finally reached the main road where we caught a shuttle that would take us to Curry Village. Not long after getting on the bus we sighted our first bear!!!!! The driver stopped for a minute and then informed us that we could get off to observe the bear. This was a mystery bear. Watched the bear for a minute walk by a log and poof! He was no where to be seen. We walked back to another shuttle stop to resume our trip to Curry village.
As before, Curry Village was a buzz with people. Next time we may stay at Ahwahnee Hotel or Yosemite Lodge. Curry Village is just too crowded. We made our way to the cantina for a cold beer. Yipee, we made it again! Instead of dinner at the pizzeria or the buffet we decided to buy some “dinner” type stuff at the grocery store. Smoked salmon, crackers, cheese, beer and some other stuff would do.
While still in the planning stage of our trip we decided that we would splurge a little after our hike a rent an actual cabin, one that had showers and beds. What a treat! However, it was quite a walk to the cabin. And carrying our ice chest and stuff was no easy task after our long day. When we arrived we found that the office had given us a set of wrong keys…..deciding that it was too far to walk back, Nancy opened the window and climbed in. What a picture!
It was Nancy and Connie’s birthday, give or take a day. Colleen, June and Judy planned a surprise birthday party for us. Because we were in separate cabins they were able to decorate their cabin with balloons, candles and gifts! We had a super birthday party on the deck of the cabin. What a super birthday for me and Nancy!
After going to bed thinking they would sleep sound a couple of mice had another plan for Judy and Colleen! Jumping from food bag to food bag the mice found some chocolate pieces that they thought they could get into their mouse holes. Jumping 5 inches off the floor the mice found that the chocolate wouldn’t fit and the pieces would fall to the floor. Can’t get entertainment like this just anywhere! About 3:30am Judy decided it was time for the mice to go outside. Upon opening the door she couldn’t believe her eyes! Walking right in front of the cabin was a bear! Running to get her camera and squealing, “BEAR”, Colleen, (thinking about the Salmon from dinner that was in the cabin) ran over and slammed the door shut! No picture again……but fun memories of the incident.
August 19, 2006
Today was a “tour” day to see Yosemite Valley. Took free shuttle which we highly recommend to go anywhere. Had lunch at the Ahwahnee Hotel. Really good! Before going sight seeing it would be worth the time to get a schedule of all the happenings around the Valley. Free sketching classes were one of the things we would have liked to do but missed. There were other things available for a fee too.
We left Curry Village around 6:00pm and arrived in Fresno around 8:00pm. We were able to get the same room at the Days Inn.
August 20, 2006
Woke up early this morning and headed for Phoenix around 6:00am. Stopped at “The Cookery at the Flying J Truck Stop” for breakfast. Don’t do that again. Keep going till you get to IHOP. Arrived in Phoenix about 5:30pm.
The total for the round trip for gas as $210.00
To do the High Sierra Hike with 7 nights, 3 breakfast, 3 suppers was $550.00 each plus a couple other meals.
Next time we hike Yosemite National Park a route could be Tuolumne Meadows, Glen Aulin Camp, May Lake, back to Merced or loop Meadows, Volgelsang, Merced, Sunrise Meadow.
Reservation phone numbers: 559-253-5635 or 1-800-436-7275