May 14 Kings Canyon National Park CA to Yosemite National Park CA Millerton SRA

Because it is Sunday we get on the road early as there are no work issues to deal with. In contrast to our foggy ride up the mountain, the drive down the mountain is beautiful with large pine trees lots of wild flowers and long vistas in the bright sunshine. During the drive Susan checks the weather forecast for Yosemite (no more cold foggy raining days shut in the RV at high altitude for her). The forecast for today is good but tomorrow there is a 100% chance for rain and Tuesday there is still a 50% chance with temperatures that will range from the mid 30’s to high 50’s. (Ouch!). So by the time we hit Fresno we decide to drop the trailer at a nearby state park (elevation 500 feet weather warm) and drive the truck to Yosemite for the day. No sense hauling the RV up and down the mountain if the weather once up there is going to be uncomfortable. We are feeling very disappointed that we will not have much time in the park at least we will get to see it. It is around 1 pm when we finally get up the winding mountain road to the visitor center at 4200 feet.  The weather is cool but sunny for the moment and we immediately check out the visitor’s center to get some advice on the things to do. The ranger tells us that the Sequoia grove is closed for repair, the glacial point road is closed and the road to the valley and the real majestic overlook is crowded and may take 2-3 hours to go the 30 miles because of traffic. #$@*!!!. It turns out the rain this year has the waterfalls at their peak but the roads at their worst and since all the Californians know this is the best falls in years they are crowding the park. Oh yes it is also Mother’s day and holiday increase the visitors. He further explains that at least today the road is open yesterday they closed the roads because of traffic. Is this the unspoiled wilderness we are expecting to see? Well at this point we are here so off we go. We are pleasantly surprised to make it to the tunnel view and rewarded with a breathtaking view of the valley.

view of the valley

There are many gushing waterfalls against a back drop of towering granite cliffs accented by lush green forests and meadows. This is supposedly the most photographed spot in the world. After seeing it we understand why. One of the granite faces here known as El Capitan is a popular mountain climbing spot that is so high that many climbers take three days to get to the top. During this time they sleep in a hammock of sorts that is tied on to the cliff face as the dangle in the air. After a few quick photos we are on our way into the valley. As we drive way Rick complains about the rudeness of some of the visitors. It turns out as we are trying to leave the parking lot at tunnel view a group of Asian visitors blocks our way by standing behind our car as they try and coordinate their group. An elderly woman actual put up her hand to make us wait as she waves to her friend from behind the truck because she doesn’t want to move without her friend by her side. After another 20minutes we arrive at the bottom of the valley. Here one of the two lanes is closed and the flashing sign reads “all parking full – expected long delays”. The scenery is story book surreal. The meadow is massive and green the surrounding woods is green and flowered all the way to the rocky sheer cliffs that line the side. There are delicate wispy water falls that turn thunderous as they spray rain out into the road when we approach their base. But we see it all out the car window as the car creeps along in NYC rush hour style traffic for an hour only to find no parking available where we wanted to start our hike from.

view from the car down on the valley

Now we are discouraged but glad we will not be spending 3 nights here with this crowd. We manage to find a spot to stop for a late lunch (we brought sandwiches). The spot is used by clambers to start their assent up the cliff but we are content to sit in the lower woods enjoying a rushing stream and a break from the traffic.

one of the many water falls

We continue our drive finding a spot to stop on the edge of the Meadow where we can get out. Hard to imagine that we can not quite fit in the parking lot because the same Asian woman and her group have set up a tripod and the group is occupying the only three parking spaces as they pose for a set of pictures. After a short wait someone leaves allowing us a brief picture stop. We get “On the road again” to the base of bridal falls by now it is 4:30 and the crowds are beginning to leave so we park easily. Rick insists he is going to the base of the falls which requires fording a stream that is overflowing the road and parking lot. After waiting for the same Asian woman that now blocks the way because decides half way across that she does not want to get wet feet he makes it through the water and up to the base of the falls. It is like standing in a rain storm as the water thunders down the mountain (good thing he has a rain coat). Susan meanwhile has found her way through the woods for a peak as well but not so close as to need the rain coat. They walk back to the car on the wooded path Susan has found and head back to end the adventure in Yosemite. On the road back we marvel at the irony of this natural setting so overwhelmed with people at least 50% of which are non USA citizens from all over the world. We get back to our camp site in time to enjoy the last hours of daylight sipping a glass of wine at a picnic table overlooking the lake at our campsite. We are now looking forward to a quiet day just hanging around this site. Millerton SRA. This area has the largest population of bald eagles wintering in the San Joaquin Valley as well as a good population of golden eagles, deer, bobcats, coyotes, mountain lions and lots of birds. Tomorrow we will just relax as we begin preparation for our weekend on the east coast.

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