Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Central California - Yosemite

Julie and I have left on a journey around central California. We flew into San Jose because we hate long drives, and for us, it would have been two days of complete boredom from Salt Lake to California.

The most significant accomplishment on our first day was lunch at In-and-Out Burgers. I had heard lots about the chain, but never eaten at one. It was good, but I am not sure I understand all the excitement.

The wind farms along the highway are incredible. There must be thousands of turbines, but they are so much smaller than the monsters they make now. I wonder when they will start upgrading them with fewer, more powerful systems.

When we started making reservations for our trip, all the lodges inside Yosemite were booked. We ended up deciding to stay at the Blackberry Inn, a B&B outside the park. What a great piece of luck. The place was fantastic.

From sunrise to sunset, there were dozens of hummingbirds at the feeders on the big front porch.

Steve, the owner, did a great job with the house and the breakfasts were to die for. While it adds a bit of a drive to get into the park, we would definitely stay there again!

Cricket the cat enjoyed talking to the customers and watching all the hummingbird feeders.

Just as you enter Yosemite, you can see the valley. El Capitan is the big rock formation on the left and Bridal Veil Falls is on the right. Does every national park have a Bridal Veil Falls?

In May, all the snow is melting, so the waterfalls are full of water and amazingly powerful. This is the top half of Yosemite Falls. It's the fifth highest waterfall in the world, and Julie and I hiked to the top of it. We had already gone up 1,200 vertical feet to take this picture. Living in the mountains helps keep you in decent shape for climbing.

The bottom of the falls was an ever-changing pattern of water streams dissolving into mist.

Hiking up the falls, we ran across some sporting team from Norway. When they got to the top, they thought it was great to clown around at the top of a big, big cliff. Julie and I were expecting to have to talk to the rangers as they filled out the death certificates.

We didn't climb Half Dome. It still had too much snow and the trails were closed.

While most of the park is beautiful, some areas were burned to the ground from forest fires.

Julie on the footbridge at the base of Vernal Falls.

Our hike to Vernal Falls was on a Saturday morning. Even though schools hadn't let out for the summer, everyone and their brother came to Yosemite.

Vernal Falls, while much smaller than Yosemite Falls, was just as gorgeous. It hammered down into a pool where the mist made a little rainbow.

The volume of water was intimidating. You knew that if you slipped into a creek, you were likely to be whisked off in the near freezing water. The thought made you pay attention as you scrambled across wet rocks.

There only seemed to be two types of hikes in Yosemite: flat easy hikes through the valley, and big, long, steep hikes out of the valley. I would love to go back and do some more of both. The scenery is as good as it gets.
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