There are some places in this world that words and pictures cannot sufficiently describe. Yosemite would be one of those places. Last weekend my son came and scooped me up for a spur of the moment camping trip. I told him I no longer had a sleeping bag and so he went right out and purchased one. No excuses. Arriving for dinner Friday evening, we were all excited. John would have a weekend by himself and Andrew and I would be exploring Yosemite, much as we did when he was a little boy.
Lists were made and things were gathered in preparation for this wild jaunt. We had no camp space reserved, it's a four hour drive from here and we just might have to turn around and come home. But that never stopped us when he was little, so we are off! I was thinking maybe a couple hours of shut eye, get up at 12 and out the door by 1am...Andrew had other ideas. As soon as we could get all the gear loaded, we were off and on the road by 9 that evening.
We had a great road trip, both of us excited, reminiscing about the many trips we had taken to Yosemite in years past. Arriving at the park around 1am, we cruised all the campgrounds to find that (no surprise) they were all full. Heading over to Curry Village, we parked the Jeep, made a potty stop and then made our beds in the back of the Jeep for the few hours before dawn. Sleep never felt so good.
It's time to get up, 5am and we have to be in line if we have any chance of getting a camping spot. First in line at Camp 4, just below El Capitan. Everything is quiet and we have several hours to wait, the ranger comes at 8:30. By 6am we are joined by a few more folks and by the time the ranger arrived there were about 30 people or more in line.
Put up our tent, had some breakfast, and we are off! First a quick drive around the Valley to snap some photos and decide where we want to jump off in our trek. WHERE did all these people come from, and they are still arriving all day. You must always be on guard because the vista are so incredible that people forget they are driving and end up careening off the road at times or parking in very unusual (and I am sure, not legal) places.
My son Andrew, Yosemite Falls in the background.
Andrew again with Half Dome in the distance.
We decided the trek to Yosemite Falls, a one mile loop, it would be a nice hike. Followed by a hike into Yosemite Village for an ice cream then back to camp for a nap, followed by a trip to the look out point to take photos of the valley at sunset, then down to the floor of the valley to take photos of Half Dome with Alpen Glow.
We are back at the tent now and I have already determined that my knees at 60, are not going to let me crawl into that tent one more time...lol. Andrew fixed a great fire and we are eating moon food tonight, lasagne...very tasty. The ranger comes around to tell us that there is a bear working the campground and we get a pat on the back for having our campsite so neat. Off to bed, another night for me in the back of the Jeep, Andrew is in the tent.
5am, I'm up, glad that I didn't sleep in the tent last night...I can see the bathrooms and I'm off on my morning hike! I'm sure if I had to figure out how to crawl out of that 3 man tent in the dark, I would have had an accident by now. It's quiet again in camp, only people up are those that are preparing to hike out to the back country. Even the birds and the squirrels are still asleep. I can hear Andrew snoring in the tent and again, I'm happy for the Jeep.
Crawling back into the front seat now, throwing the sleeping bag over the top of me and propping my pillow against the window, I drift off into a deep sleep. A few hours later, a knock at the window and Andrew is up and he is ready to head up to Glacier Point.
Feeling every bone in my body and muscles that I do not use, sitting at a desk, I am reflecting back on another trip to Yosemite. When I was in my 30's like Andrew, I took my mother to Yosemite. She was in her 50's, close to my age. I remember how excited she was, we did pretty much the same thing, slept the first night in the car at Curry Village, waited in line to get a high country pass and then took off. We were hiking to Little Yosemite Valley on the Mist Trail, past Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls. I had outfitted each of us with a nice back pack. I was carrying about 40 lbs in mine. Well, we didn't get very far into our trek before mom could no longer carry her pack, it was just too much for her. We were at the bridge, crossing the river before you get to Vernal Falls. So I blithely strapped her pack onto mine and insisted we keep moving. Oh My GOSH, what did she pack???? Rocks? Here is a photo of us on the bridge.
Oh Yeah, she's happy now, she doesn't have to carry anything...LOL. Well, we continued on up the Mist Trail and after many stops along the way, we finally arrived at our desired camp site. Put up the tent, took a nap, fixed dinner and I finally got to see what she had packed. Canned goods, 5 lbs of real potatoes, several whole onions...oh the list went on! I was dumb struck. I explained to her that you really need to bring dehydrated foods because of the weight. Well, we ate good!
We had a wonderful time, I brought some paper and charcoal pencils and we sat by the river and sketched, went for a short hike further into the valley and when we were ready to leave I told her that we would be leaving the canned goods, etc in the bear box for the next hikers to enjoy. She was not having that. So I told her she would have to carry her own pack down if she wanted those items. She said fine. Off we went...pretty quick, those potatoes were being tossed into the woods for the critters. Well, mom was pretty exhausted by the time we were home.
I have a whole NEW respect for her and what she accomplished that weekend up in Little Yosemite Valley. A 2000 ft vertical climb in her late 50's. I'm not sure I could do it today. I totally understand her need for frequent bathroom breaks. After the small amount of hiking we did around the floor of the valley, I was exhausted, done. Below is the view from Glacier point that shows the two falls that mom and I hiked beyond. Quite an accomplishment mom!
For generations our family has camped in Yosemite...it is still as magnificent today as it has always been.
Mom and Dad circa 1950
Gram circa 1940
Andrew circa 1980, Crane Flat, we couldn't find the poles!
We never did ride the horses but this one liked Andrew
By the second night, we had found the tent poles and all was well.
Andrew and me, enjoying the fire at Upper Pines Camp Ground
Mirror Lake Circa 1950, photo taken by my father
Yosemite Valley, circa 1950, photo taken by my father.
Andrew, circa 1977, taken by his grandma Roby, calling home to mommy from the payphone at Silverado Country Club in Napa, CA. I absolutely adore my son, so grateful for him, grateful to be his mom, proud of his accomplishments and proud of the man he has become. So my Mother's Day continues with a surprise!...we are off to Cattlemen's, my son is taking us to dinner!
Happy Mother's Day!!!