June 10th, 2010 – Yosemite National Park – North and Valley

Thursday, June 10th – Lots of Hiking

We wanted to see all of Yosemite, so we decided to take the drive up to the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, in Northern Yosemite.  To get there, you actually leave the park, and then re-enter again, so make sure you hold on to your $20 park pass, as they check it leaving and entering at any entrance.

When we got to the Reservoir and Dam, we were “supposed” to just look at the area, take in the beauty and then continue on our way.  Scott decided he wanted to take the 5 1/2  mile round trip hike to Wapama Falls  We could see the top 1,400 feet of Wapama Falls from the reservoir.  The longest hike I had planned was only 3 miles round-trip but the kids were excited about doing the hike, so off we went.  We had no idea how close we would get to the falls, but we hiked anyways.

Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and Wapama Falls

After a while, we could tell we were getting closer as the loud rush of water kept getting louder and louder, and after a few stairs to climb down, we were at the bridge at the base of the falls.  It was so loud you had to scream to talk to each other, and the water was pouring on the bridge.  It was hard to get pictures because the camera lens would keep getting wet from the spray.  Cole donned his poncho, and walked across the bridge.  The falls were so powerful, it blew his poncho  and his legs and shoes ended up getting soaked during the short time he was on the bridge.  Brittany finally donned her poncho, and went across the bridge as well, and her fate was the same.  Scott and I were in heavy jeans, (it was supposed to only be 60 degrees, but it ended up being much warmer) and decided not to brave the bridge.  When we got back to the car, the kids changed out their clothes for dry shorts, and dry socks.

Kids on the footbridge of Wapama Falls - getting soaked!

Next we headed to Bridalveil Falls.  This fall flows year round, and the trail to the base was a short .25 mile hike. Scott and the kids went all the way to the end, but I couldn’t even get close to that, as there was so much spray whipping off the falls, the camera was getting soaked.  I did get a picture of them coming back down the trail, and Brittany looked wet and cold, and the trail was just covered with water washing over it.

Bridalveil Fall

We headed to see Tunnel View next.  They say you haven’t been to Yosemite, if you don’t have your picture taken at Tunnel View, so we had to make sure we did that.  Tunnel View was amazing.  Very touristy spot, and it was hard to get pictures with no people in them when you are practically bumping elbows with everyone else there.

Us at Tunnel View

The Tunnel View is probably Yosemite’s most famous vista. Lots of famous landmarks are visible here, including, from left to right, El Capitan, Clouds Rest, Half Dome, Sentinel Rock, Sentinel Dome, and Bridalveil Falls.  El Capitan, which is world-famous for rock climbing, BASE jumping, and other crazy activities, is the tallest cliff in the valley.  Horsetail Falls was in the shadow when we were there, but we did end up seeing it from another viewpoint the next day. Half Dome is one of the most famous sights in the valley, it’s unique shape soars over 1300 feet from the valley floor.  There is a nice 8.5 mile (one way) trail and cable climb to Half Dome’s top that we chose not to do.  Bridalveil Fall is one of the most photographed waterfalls, primarily because of Tunnel View.

2 bears before they jumped up on the bridge where we were

The last trail of the day was Vernal Falls.  As we were on our way to the trailhead, we saw bears.  Yes, bears with an “s”.  A mama bear and a baby bear.  We were up on a bridge, and they were down below us, and all was good, until baby bear decided to jump up onto the bridge about 3 feet away from Scott and Brittany.  Brittany hid behind Scott, and Scott made sure to let the bears have the right-of-way.  Cole and I were further behind, but the bears walked right by us, paying us no mind.  I looked down at Cole’s face, and his eyes were just bulging out of his head, as he has never seen a bear that close before.  He sure didn’t let go of my hand, that’s for sure!  Now we were going on the same trail that the bears just came off from!

Kids in front of Vernal Falls

Vernal Falls trail was a .75 mile hike to the footbridge, and another 1.25 miles up a steep granite stairway of over 600 steps.  It was not an easy hike to the footbridge at all for me.  It was a steady climb up, and I was completely out of breath..I really think the pregnancy had a lot to do with that, as I don’t feel I’m that out of shape, and Scott was doing just fine.  I decided to stop at the footbridge, while Scott and the kids went on, and he took some awesome pictures of the falls as they got closer to it.  They didn’t make it to the top either, as the stairs were slippery wet, and there were no guardrails, and sheer cliffs, Cole started freaking out a little, and wanted to turn back.  Vernal Falls slows down to very little flow in the fall, so it was a gorgeous site to see it so full and powerful.  I was glad to see them come back down the trail, as I was a little worried about seeing more bears while they were gone.  Thankfully, there were no more bear sightings, and we all made it back to our hotel room, safe and sound.

We have 3 albums in the gallery from Yosemite, split up into each day we hiked.  There are also 3 blog posts, one for each day we spent in Yosemite National Park.

June 9th blog post – Yosemite East
June 11th blog post – Yosemite Valley & Mariposa Grove
Yosemite National Park – East album
Yosemite National Park – North & Valley album
Yosemite National Park – Valley & Mariposa Grove album

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