I visited this park 20 years ago with my brother and sister-in-law. We hiked, slept under the stars and ran into a baby black bear which I managed to get a picture of. It was looking at me, while my brother shouted, “you have the food pack” and ran. Memories! I believe it was on the edge of summer when we visited, this time it was winter. I was excited to show the family the El Capitan, Half Dome and Bridalveil Falls and I was hoping to see a little snow on the ground….
Boy did we see snow!!!
This is the first time the girls have seen this much snow, they were in heaven. We spent 3 full days exploring the park and the snow. All the white against the pine trees was so magical. I loved driving in it.
This park is peaceful and draws you in. I’m so thankful for John Muir’s insight on protecting this part of our country. John Muir, a naturalist, helped draw up its proposed boundaries in 1889, wrote the magazine articles that led to its creation and protection in 1890.
To the right, is a picture from 1903 when Teddy Roosevelt came to Yosemite and camped with John Muir in a hollowed out tree and was delighted to wake up to 5 inches of snow.
I’m no Teddy Roosevelt but here’s a
picture of me hanging
with John Muir…
Watch the Youtube video to see all the pictures and video of our trip
We entered the park through the south entrance. The lady in the front office of the RV park told us that we needed to buy snow chains before we headed up to the park. We went to Big 5 sporting goods to purchase them because it was the first place I saw that I thought would carry them.
My first experience with snow chains….
The road leading up to Yosemite was blocked by a police officer. I saw people pulling off the side of the road putting on their tire chains so I did the same thing. I decided to try to put them on myself even though there were men charging $30 to install them for us. Well, I couldn’t get them on so I thought I must be doing something wrong. I asked one of the guys and he said mine were too small; the store sold me the wrong size. But, luckily he also told me I didn’t need them becasue I had snow/mud tires. YAY! I pulled forward to ask the police officer and he said because I have 4WD and my tires looked good, I could proceed into the park, as long as I carried the chains in the Jeep. Big 5 Sporting Goods allowed me to return the chains and then I went to O’reillys to buy the right size, becasue even though my tires are fine, I have to have a pair of chains in the Jeep to travel through the national parks and mountains in the northwest.
Yosemite in a nutshell during the winter- its cold, snowy and cloudy but breathtaking on a clear day. We were lucky to get in a couple of clear days and some thick snow fall. We tried to see a sunset over Yosemite Valley but the clouds came in and reduced our visibility to almost zero.
Tunnel View- This is where you drive through the mile long tunnel from the south and end at the quintessential view of Yosemite Valley where you can see Half Dome, El Capitan, Cloud’s rest and Bridalveil Fall.
Bidalveil Fall- 620 feet high and only a half mile hike but tough with the snow and ice. You can get close enough to feel the mist.
Yosemite Falls- Tallest water fall in North America.
Half Dome: Yosemite has the most domes of anywhere on the planet, with Half Dome being the most famous. It wasn’t actually ever a ‘whole’ dome and lost half of itself. A portion of it did break off but only 20% of it. There was a crack inside the dome and then millions of years ago a glacier came by and broke a piece of it off as it was trying to fit through the canyon.
El Capitan is a massive monolith, one of the largest in the world. This single granite rock rises over 3,569 feet.
Swinging Bridge over the Merced River (you can rent a boat at Half Dome Village during the summer to float down the Merced)- great view of half dome.
Wawona Valley is the historic part with a history center, a meadow trail and a lodge (all closed during winter). Mariposa Grove, which has a large grove of Giant Sequoias will re-open in Spring of 2018 near South Gate.
We didn’t see any bears on this trip but we did see a bear track in the snow. Did you know that the only species of bears in California are the black bears, but they range in color from black to blonde to cinnamon. Bears hibernate in large hollow trees 40-60 feet off the ground. This area was once home to over 25,000 California grizzly bears which are extinct now because they were all tracked down and killed during the 75 years after the discovery of gold.
Back at the RV park, we did some road schooling and had fun with laser tag games. It’s amazing how 20 minutes away there is 5 feet of snow, love the elevation change of the mountains.
One day we did a little science lesson by the campfire. I taught them about the flame test with different chemicals. If you want to try this, here is a list of household metal salts for colorants: Sodium chloride (table salt) will make an orange/yellow flame so this isn’t a great option for a wood burning fire but works great in a blue gas flame. Potassium chloride (salt substitute near spices in the grocery store) makes a purple flame. Copper (II) sulfate (root killer or in products to control algae) makes a green flame. Sodium borate (Borax- washing soap) or Boric Acid (disinfectant) also makes a green flame. Magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts) will produce a white flame. Rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer makes a blue flame. You can get a red flame from a lithium battery or a red emergency flame but we will save this for next time.
Have fun and be careful:)
Luckily, we stayed at the foothills of Yosemite National Park because the snow storm that came through dumped 3-5 feet of snow up there. We were parked in Oakhurst, CA which is a small old mining town. We had a nice spot next to the river at High Sierra RV Park, only 13 miles from the park entrance. There is only one other town before the park entrance, Fish camp, but they have limited lodging.
This area was home to the Mi Wok, Mono and Chuckchansi nations before the 1850’s when the gold rush started. The neighboring town of Coarsegold produced more gold than Oakhurst so they discovered they were more profitable providing supplies to the mines, lumber and granite. In 1886 a flume was built to move lumber from the Sugar Pine Lumber Co (you can hop on the railroad during the summer) to the city of Madera. The run from high Sierra to the valley was a stretch of 63 miles. This famous flume was in use until 1932.
The internet wasn’t great so we went to the local library to do some of our computer work because Chris needed all we were getting for work. This library even let us check out books because we had received a piece of mail with a local address on it! That was a first! The girls took full advantage and read a tons of books during our two week stay. We love 2 week stays, they are so relaxing because we don’t feel like we have to ‘see’ everything in one week.
When we drove to Fresno (an hour away) to drop Chris off at the airport we found a Chick-fil-a! It had been over 4 months since we had Chick-fil-a. When you are from Georgia, this is a problem! We also stopped by REI for hiking boots for the girls.
We found a yummy local restaurant, South Gate, in Oakhurst. We love to play Iota, one of the tiny games Francey sent us, while we wait for our food. Another favorite is Star Wars Family Feud, compliments of the Dupree Family. I carry these around in my backpack purse.
We celebrated our 14th anniversary while we were staying here. Every year since our first anniversary we have had Publix make a copy of our wedding cake topper. We make lasagna, ceasar salad and breadsticks, eat, cut the cake and video what’s changed over the prior year. We found a local bakery to make our cake with raspberry filling but it wasn’t as good as Publix. Our videoing consisted of taking a quick tour of the RV:)
On the day we were leaving, we were looking for our bucket that carries all our tow hitch parts. I had left it outside when after we unhitched the Jeep upon our arrival but had not thought about it since. We looked all over… which takes about 5 minutes in our small space. I went up to the front office to ask if they had seen it… turns out it had been stolen and left near a local nursery. Sure enough it was ours… a few things were broken or missing but the main parts we needed, the pins and cables for the Blue Ox, were in there. I wasn’t looking forward to driving the Jeep separately over to San Francisco.