Bicycling and hiking in Yosemite National Park, page 2

Page 1: Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove
Page 2: Glacier Point and Vernal Falls
Page 3: Tioga Road and Yosemite Falls

Tuesday, June 6

Distance: 40.8 miles
Riding time: 3 hours, 58 minutes
Average speed: 10.2 mph
Maximum speed: 39.2 mph

Today we biked up to Glacier Point, an overlook on the edge of a cliff over Yosemite Valley. We chose not to ride there straight from our campground because that would have required 38 miles of steep climbing - too much for us while pulling Daniel, and too long for Daniel to wait in his trailer. We drove to a spot about 20 miles down from Glacier Point and biked from there. We still got plenty of steep climbing with 2000+ feet of elevation gain. It was much cooler up there than at our camp or in the valley, which felt much better than the recent hot weather, and there were no mosquitoes. Near the high point of the road were large patches of snow.

For the first time that I can remember, a woman stepped out of her car this morning to take a video of us bicycling past. Yesterday a man asked if he could take a photograph of us, but that happens frequently. Who wants to watch video of strangers riding a bicycle? I suppose that some people go on vacation with a new video camera and are happy to capture anything.

Looking at air pollution west of Yosemite. A park service plaque along the road explained that pollution from California's central valley degrades views in Yosemite during the summer when warm air carries pollution up into the mountains. The central valley is home to several million people and many industries, and the population is growing.

The steep, curving Glacier Point Road.

View of the Sierra Nevada Mountains from the road.

Kathy and Daniel taking a snack break.

The view from Glacier Point is impressive and includes Half Dome, the valley, six or seven waterfalls and the Sierra Nevada mountains. Kathy and I ate lunch there while Daniel played on the rocks. We've been letting him play on the ground during this trip (now that he's old enough not to put everything in his mouth) and he loves it. His balance is getting better and he's quickly learning how to walk.

Daniel went to sleep easily after dinner tonight and that made our evening easier since we could both work on cleaning up. The past 2 nights were much harder because Daniel refused to sleep until late in the evening. Now that we have a baby I've learned to set smaller goals for each day because everything takes longer to accomplish, whether it's biking, hiking, cooking, eating, cleaning or packing the car.

A view of the upper Yosemite Valley from Glacier Point. Half Dome is on the right, and you can see why it's called Half Dome.

Looking down on Yosemite Falls.

Looking straight down into the valley three thousand feet below.

Daniel playing at Glacier Point.

An alpine marsh. Hundreds or perhaps thousands of frogs were croaking in this marsh.

Making a snowball.

Wednesday, June 7

At the east end of Yosemite Valley is a path called the Mist Trail that leads past two large waterfalls on the Merced River: Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls. We saw these waterfalls from Glacier Point yesterday and decided to hike to them today. Although it's been hot in the valley, it is much cooler when we hike near the river, which is flowing high and fast right now.

It did not occur to me before we started hiking that our trail was called "Mist Trail" because of the spray from the waterfalls. The trail climbs right beside Vernal Falls on switchbacks cut into the stone wall. As we climbed the trail the mist got thicker and the breeze grew stronger until it felt like we were in a howling, heavy rainstorm, and water was pouring over the stone steps. Nearly everyone else on the trail was wearing a raincoat or poncho, but we didn't have our raingear. Daniel was somewhat protected by the canopy on his backpack carrier, but he got cold in his short-sleeve shirt and pants and started to whimper, so I ran as fast as I could to the top of the falls. At the top we stopped to eat lunch, admire the view, and dry out our soaked clothing. After hiking up to the base of Nevada Falls we hiked back down on the John Muir trail so that we didn't have to race through the rainstorm again.

Each day that we hike with Daniel in a backpack he gets many comments from other tourists generally saying, "Now that's a great way to hike!" or "I wish I could hike like that!" We get these comments so often that I no longer try to give a witty response, and I hope that I don't appear rude (hopefully they just assume that we can't speak English - there are many European tourists here.) They made me wonder, "Haven't these people seen a backpack carrier before?" Back at home the trails are full of parents using backpack carriers. Then Kathy pointed out to me that very few of the tourists around us were wearing hiking boots or other clothing appropriate for hiking, which made us conclude that most of the tourists in Yosemite are people who don't go hiking often. It's good to know that the national park system helps people to change their routine and go explore the outdoors every now and then.

An overlook well below Vernal Falls.

Heavy whitewater on the Merced River.

Looking up at Vernal Falls just before the mist along the trail turned into a rainstorm.

Kathy after getting soaked on the Mist Trail.

Daniel and Kathy near the top of Vernal Falls after drying off and warming up.

Looking down on Vernal Falls from the John Muir Trail. Notice how small the people are compared to the waterfall.

Taking a break at Bridalveil Falls on our way back to camp. This time Daniel wore his raincoat and wasn't bothered by the spray.


Page 1: Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove
Page 2: Glacier Point and Vernal Falls
Page 3: Tioga Road and Yosemite Falls