Sunday, November 11, 2012

More Yosemite

October 22, Monday
Monday dawned dark and drizzly, just as predicted.  The Dear One went off early to the Lounge where internet was available, and found that it didn't open until 8 a.m.  So off he went again at 8, but this time used the car to keep dry.  I cleaned up the room and settled down to knit on my "travel" project, a pair of socks, originally meant for Grandson #2, but because the colours are quite feminine, now redirected for my dear Sis.

Dear Son #1 arrived around 11 a.m. and we had coffee together, and the Dear One came in again.  We three decided that since the rain was pretty steady and general we would do indoor things today.  So that afternoon we went to the Visitor Center to see the displays and watch the excellent film about Yosemite.  What beautiful photography!

We also visited the Indian Museum where a Native American was busy making jewelry from pine nuts, patiently shaping the end of a pine nut with a pumice stone.  He showed me a lovely bracelet he had made.  Displayed were some really amazing woven baskets, true works of art.

Then we went to the Village Store to purchase some easy fixings for supper: Three Thai Noodle Bowls (need only some hot water) and some cooked chicken, which, combined with the leftover veggies from last night's supper made a satisfying meal.  We had a good long visit in our cabin and wrapped up the day by 10 p.m.

October 23, Tuesday
Although the sky was still cloudy and there were a few scattered rain drops we decided this was a good day to visit a part of the park we had not yet seen: The Hetch Hetchy Dam and Lake area, in the Northwest section of the park, not far from where we had stayed in the West Gate Lodge on Saturday night.

We parked near the Dam, an impressive sight and hiked up the trail a ways.  I had forgotten my camera and used D.S.'s but I've had a terrible time getting those pictures from Jim's laptop to mine, hence the week-long delay since my last post.  The problem is still not completely solved, so I will just post a few pictures.  This is the dam, seen at the centre of the photo from a ways up the hiking trail.  And the next photo is the opposite view from this one, looking to the left over Hetch Hetchy Lake.  It was a very beautiful area!

The dam was built early in the last century, really in response to the San Francisco earthquake, to provide a reliable and clean supply of water to the whole San Francisco and valley area.  Because the lake and dam are so high in elevation the whole system operates without pumps, and the water travels entirely by gravity.  There are two other reservoirs in the system and besides providing a reliable water supply, all from snow melt, the whole system also provides a significant amount of power through its turbines and generators.

One very interesting "tree" or "shrub" (I'm not sure which) is the Manzanita, with its dark orange bark and convoluted limbs.  Its wood is very hard and was a
favourite of the original inhabitants of the area.

On our way here we saw the only bear we encountered in the park, a park famous for lots of bears.  It crossed the road right in front of us as we drove the narrow way to the dam.  I quickly grabbed the camera, but was too late to get a good picture.  All I managed was a little brown bump next to the tree as it disappeared down the slope next to the road.  I just tried now again to import that photo from Jim's laptop, but it just won't work.  I'm just glad I manage to get these here.

We planned to have dinner at a nice restaurant near the dam, but found out it opened for dinner at 5 p.m., and this was only around 3.  Instead we stopped at the Park Entrance gate and ate some chicken wraps we had bought earlier in the day.  There was a very cold wind that swept through the area, and we were thoroughly chilled.  It felt like about +38ºF!  Found out later that the high had been +40º that day.  Unseasonably cold.

 Back in our nice warm cabin we had some hot chocolate and ice cream.  Jim enjoyed reading a N.Y. Times newspaper that DS had brought, and we again visited until the evening was spent.

This was our third trip to visit DS in Yosemite, the first in 2003, and again in 2008.  I do have one little correction to the last post: DS is responsible for 40 buses ALONG WITH THREE OTHER MECHANICS!  I guess I inadvertently gave him a promotion!

Right in front of our cabin was this sign warning about bear damage.  Bears in Yosemite Valley have come to associate easy food with cars, as people often leave food in their vehicle.  There is a very strict prohibition against leaving any food in a vehicle, but nevertheless about 100 cars, trucks or vans are practically demolished there each year by raiding bears.  If you leave food in your car you risk having it impounded, or wrecked by a bear.

The strange thing is that there are snack machines in various outdoor places that the bears have not bothered.  So the conclusion is that one bear learned to trash a car for easy food access and actually imparted that behaviour to other bears.  They just haven't caught on to the snack machines yet!

October 24, Wednesday
We followed our usual morning routine, Jim to the lounge to use the internet, I cleaned up the room, trying to keep things neat and then sat down to knit for a while.  DS came around 11 a.m.  We had something to eat, bought at one of the cafeterias, and then set out for Happy Isles and Mirror Lake.

There have been some big rock slides at Happy Isles, and rock slides are actually a "usual" thing in Yosemite Valley, because of the geology of the place.  But that particular rock slide killed one camper and injured several other people.

Couldn't get a very clear view of the slide area, but all the white rock shows where the slide was, a huge area.

There was this bit of beauty alongside the trail where it crossed the Merced River on a small wooden bridge.

The shaded area just to the right of the "nose" in this picture shows the route DS and his climbing buddy were planning to tackle in the next week.  They were figuring on spending possibly three days on the face of this cliff.

Mostly we don't know when he's climbing and that's a lot more comfortable for us.  On the other hand, knowing that he's spending his days and nights on this rock face, really concentrates our prayers for him!

That was a few weeks ago now, and he is safely on the valley floor again.

Here's an unusual shot of Half Dome.  I didn't even recognize it from this point of view.  When we were here in 2008 I took a lovely picture of Half Dome from the Glacier Point Lookout.  Later I made a watercolour painting of that scene.

We had hiked up to Mirror Lake and, to our surprise, found this scene:
Mirror Lake is a seasonal lake, and this time of the year, when there is no snow melt going on, it's a large sandy area dotted with huge boulders.  It reminded me of a Japanese garden, and needed only the marks of careful raking to complete the picture.

Other hikers were similarly confused, thinking they should hike farther up the trail to find the lake.

Well, this pretty much brings us to the end of our visit with DS in Yosemite.  Again, we ended the day with some purchased food eaten in our cabin and topped off with a good long evening visit.

Because we planned to leave promptly on Thursday morning we said our goodbyes this evening.  It has been a very satisfying visit, and we are sad to leave, but very happy we had this time together.

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