We headed over to the Park Sierra on Sunday, June 7, probably my most favorite of all the Escape Parks I have visited so far. It is located in the foothills near Course Gold, California. Our good friend Maynard McGee greeted us and gave a quick tour of the park in his little golf cart. The park is large enough that a golf cart is well worth the investment.
On Monday day we went up to Bass Lake to see Joel's cousin Adrona. Adrona used to live up Carmel Valley, not too far from where I grew up and where Joel lived at one time. Adrona recently moved to Bass Lake, and in fact hadn't even finished unpacking. However, Adrona did bake of cake for Joel, which was enjoyed by all. We all know how Joel enjoys his sweets and his birthday is coming up. Joel had a nice visit with his cousin which he hadn't seen for about 3 years. Dummy me forgot to take any photos of Joel and Adrona and of Bass Lake.
The weather was extremely hot...triple digits. I "don't do hot very well", so we headed towards Yosemite on Tuesday, which is less than an hour away. It turns out Joel has never been to Glacier Point so that was our destination. I figured since it was a week day and not the height of the summer season, the crowds and traffic wouldn't be too bad.
The south entrance didn't look too promising. In addition to not "doing hot", I don't "do crowds" very well either. It took a while to get through the gate. Apparently, park visitors seem to want to ask the attending ranger a million questions, rather than wait until they get to the visitor center or read the park brochure or newspaper provided.
Our first stop was Mariposa Grove. The parking lot was full, but we were told we could go to Wawona about 4 miles down the road, park there, and catch the shuttle back to Mariposa Grove. Mariposa Grove is going through a complete restoration and rerouting of paths. You can no longer drive through the grove, and will be intermittently closed until 2016. As we were heading towards Wawona we observed the shuttles heading back towards Mariposa Grove. The shuttles were totally full with standing room only. Yikes! We decided to pass on the shuttle, at least for the time being.
We headed up to Glacier Point, which turned out to be a very pleasant drive. Not too much traffic, and the bonus was the temperatures dropped from the high 90s to the low 60s.
We stopped at Washburn Point which provided panoramic views and few crowds and perfect view of Vernal and Nevada Falls, Half Dome ,and Clouds Rest. I think is was back in 2010 I backpacked from May Lake off Tioga Pass over Clouds Rest up to Half Dome and then back on to the valley floor to catch a shuttle back to Tioga Pass. I tried explaining my backppacking route to Joel, and he just rolled his eyes. He doesn't "do hills or steep terraine".
Half Dome with Clouds Rest in back of Half Dome
I was really surprised to find easy parking at Glacier Point. There were crowds but fortunately, not like I had expected. We sat on the stone wall looking out towards Half Dome and enjoyed Tenaya Canyon and enjoyed a leisurely picnic lunch.
After taking a million photos it was time to head back down. On the way we were treated with a brown bear foraging in the forest. He didn't seem to mind all of the gawkers, even though some approached dangerously close.
Next we stopped at Wawona and poked around. What a grand place it must have been back in the 30's with a golf course and swimming "tank".
The day was getting late, but decided to take a chance and see if the Mariposa parking lot was open. Although the parking lot was fairly full for being so late in the day, a parking spot was secured and we headed out on some of the trails. Some of the trails are torn up and being rerouted and gravel, verses the compacted forest floor. The high light was the Grizzly Tree.
We arrived back to the SKP to 99 degree temperatures at 6:30. Yikes. I'm so glad we are not dry camping and have AC!
The temperatures are suppose to be cooler tomorrow but heat up again on the weekend. Hmm, we may be rethinking our stay in the foot hills.