Bicycling and hiking in Yosemite National Park, page 3

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

Thursday, June 8

Distance: 40.1 miles
Riding time: 3 hours, 36 minutes
Average speed: 11.1 mph
Maximum speed: 40.7 mph

Kathy and I have been hoping that Tioga Pass will open this week, shortening our trip home by 200 miles and letting us see the high alpine areas of Yosemite as we leave. Those hopes were destroyed yesterday when a park ranger told us that the pass wouldn't open for another 2 to 3 weeks. Visitors are allowed on Tioga Road as far as Yosemite Creek, less than half the distance to the pass. We decided to see as much of the high country as we could by biking up Tioga Road today.

We had biked only a few miles when I saw a black bear on the right edge of the road. We stopped about 100 feet downhill from him - bicycles seem to panic wild animals, and I didn't want to take risks with a bear. Our camera doesn't have a good zoom lens, so we didn't take a picture. After about a minute he crossed the road and walked up to his momma bear, who was waiting up the hill on the left side of the road. I'm glad that we didn't accidentally get between momma bear and baby bear.

The road was fairly steep, climbing from 6150 feet at Crane Flat to 8330 feet shortly before Yosemite Creek with lots of ups and downs in between. It was originally built to bring supplies to silver mines near Tioga Pass in the late 1800's, but the silver ran out after just 2 years and the road was later donated to the Forest Service. Along the road there was lots of snow, and to my surprise, lots of frogs. In a couple of marshes and lakes surrounded by snow we could hear hundreds of frogs croaking. I didn't know that frogs could be active in such cold water. We ate lunch at Yosemite Creek and then biked back to our car.

Daniel was content during our bike ride, but he fussed a lot once we were in our car, and he cried loudly when we put him to bed at camp - the whole campground could hear him. He's been acting irritable the last few nights, maybe because he's teething. I hope he isn't ill.

Forest fire damage along Tioga Road. Naturally ignited fires (started by lightning) are generally permitted to burn their natural course.

Siesta Lake

Daniel napping in his trailer.

Lunchtime near Yosemite Creek.

A marmot near the bathroom. Marmots are about the size of a small cat.

Yosemite Creek

Daniel digs while Kathy cooks dinner.

Friday, June 9

For our last day of hiking in Yosemite we climbed to the top of Upper Yosemite Falls. Kathy was hesitant to try this hike because our free guidebook calls it "very strenuous" with 2700 feet of elevation gain in 3.6 miles. The trail is steep and has lots of switchbacks, but is very achievable. Plenty of people that looked less prepared than us made it to the top, including a Chinese man who hiked up wearing a white dress shirt and slacks.

We had good views of the valley for most of our hike, and the falls looked wonderful up so close. If we had come here later in the summer then Yosemite Falls would have been just a trickle, or perhaps nothing at all, and we would have missed a great view. Late May or early June seems like the best time to see the valley. Kathy made me nervous a couple times by peering over steep ledges to look down at the waterfalls, so I made her hold my hand in case she lost her balance. Daniel got many comments from other tourists who were impressed that we were willing to hike uphill with him, and Daniel was happy to smile back at them and make cute noises.

Tomorrow morning we will begin our long drive back to Colorado. We've had good week of biking and hiking in the valley and mountains, all while carrying around our 1-year-old baby. As Daniel gets older we will continue to adapt our vacations to include him, but I hope to continue the biking, hiking and camping that we've grown to like so much.

Climbing the trail. The Yosemite Falls trail is about 100 years old, and was built to provide recreation for guests at a nearby hotel.

Upper Yosemite Falls

Upper Yosemite Falls and Half Dome.

Eating lunch in a shady spot.

Wildflowers along the trail.

Looking down the upper falls to the middle falls and valley.

The trail has some narrow ledges, but railings are provided.

An overlook above Yosemite Falls.

Looking down into the valley

Daniel sleeping at the end of our hike.


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