Friday, May 21, 2004

The Yosemite 7, Friday, Day One

Dan, John, Daniel, Dave, and I all left my place at about 7pm yesterday; including stopping at the airport to pick up Frank & at In-n-Out in Livermore for dinner, Dan, Frank and I (driving) hit the Bug at 11. We even missed two exits along the way, but still arrived just a few minutes behind John (driving), Daniel, and Dave, who stopped at a Denny's somewhere, but not the airport. Don't know if they missed any exits.

Rachel was very cute when I called from the In-n-Out lot; wanted five "Daddy kisses", so she got them. After we got off the phone, she decided she wanted to say she loved me after hearing Dawn say it, so they called right back. Rachel’s ability to understand talking on the phone has been a godsend already for the last few weeks, but it’s going to be especially great this weekend.

The tent cabins at the Bug are nice enough. Simple, clean, 3 beds each. We played 'bullshit' (card game) at the picnic table between the two for a while before bed, using an electric lantern and trying to keep the motion sensor light on the other building near us on as much as we could. Shared a cabin with Dan & Frank; read a few stories from a book of strange/silly bits from court proceedings. Some were lame, but others were funny enough to make it worth the lame ones. Dan snores, but not too badly.

It was chilly overnight, but the sleeping bag was more than enough; I didn't even zip it up all the way. The bed was reasonably comfortable, and didn’t creak every time I moved the way those horrendous wall-mounted cots did when I stayed in the Housekeeping Camp back in 1996. I think I first woke up around 4:30 or 5 and kind of dozed on and off until just before 7.

In the idle observations department (as if this isn't ALL about that), the Bug's restroom (at least the one I used) seems to have a tin roof. I realized this because there was water dripping on it; in fact, there were two separate drips, one at slightly more than twice as fast as the other. Evidently I was easily amused this morning.

It's great to be back up here, near and heading for Yosemite. Lots of birds, fresh air, the smell of trees. The road into the Bug is a bit of a rough fire trail, basically. I love having 4-wheel drive on my truck. Wasn't the least bit necessary, but it definitely improved the ride in and out. I guess I just don't understand buying a vehicle as big as, or bigger than, an SUV or small pickup that has 4WD available and not getting it, unless it is exorbitantly more expensive. I mean, unless you will positively never use the 4x4. And I don't mean 'hardly ever'. Same with towing capacity. I could undoubtedly have gotten away without the 4WD & towing and saved maybe $1500, but I seem to make some use of them at least 2 or 3 times a year. Not counting when I find the occasional severely cratered city street and bounce around to 'exercise' the 4WD.

We left the Bug at around 10am after having breakfast in their cafe. Breakfast was OK, not great. Daniel's vegetable omelet came with only momentarily warmed vegetables, but he didn't seem to mind. I'm not sure whether I would have or not. Probably not in that case. Dan ordered his food right before I did, but ordered the same thing as Dave, who ordered last, and didn't say anything when the waiter gave Dan's to Dave. So much for the little numbered flags they gave us after ordering; you'd think they would expect the number to be near the person who got it with their order. Or maybe they just knew that all these things were going to the same big table? Not a big deal, but it amused us anyway.

Par for the course, we missed the turn into the Wawona campground, but we found the reservation office instead, right about check-in time: noon. Walk into the reservation office and tell them my name. Oh, they say. Maybe you can explain this note. Hu (that's what the name tag said, anyway) turns his clipboard around for me to see my note indicating that I want two sites together. Yes, I was hoping we'd get two sites together. How can we give you two sites when you only reserved one? One? That's interesting, I told the reservations web site I had 12 people and wanted 2 sites. Thought at first that he was being (or going to be) a jerk about it, but they were pretty nice and just having some fun with us, which was OK, as long as they didn't cause us any major problems. It is lucky there were only 7 of us - they said we could still all camp at the site, and that we could put our third vehicle in the overflow lot. You'd think they'd have called me about it, or that when I called on Wednesday and the woman on the phone read me the note, maybe she'd have pointed out that we only had one site reserved? I think I’d have raised holy hell if we had really shown up with more people than they would allow on one site. No. Really. I reserved two and your “reservationists” should have done something about it, so you can find someone who reserved after I did and find them someplace else to stay. Anyway, as I said, they were pretty good about it.

Went on down to Wawona itself. Our site is fairly big. We could probably fit at least 4 or 5 tents, which is plenty, but we told them 3, so we'll stick with 3. The overflow parking is, happily, right across the 'street' from our site. The big problem has been having only one bear locker. We have to get ALL of our food, toiletries, drinks, etc. into it. Again, luckily, they have an extra near the ranger station at the entrance to the campground, and let us use that. Even so, we had to spend a bit of effort on getting everything in our one after we put a few things we weren’t going to need as much in the one by the entrance. That was mostly Daniel today, with me doing some kibbitzing and passing things to him.

After getting more or less situated, we had lunch, such as it was, and then drove over to a parking lot on Glacier Point Road where the trailheads for the Sentinel Dome and Taft Point trails are. As we arrived, it started raining a little. There was some talk among us, both in my truck and over the walkie-talkies, of waiting it out. I waited maybe 30 seconds before deciding I was going anyway. Everyone else followed without further comment, and it stopped the drizzle within a few minutes. We took the Sentinel Dome trail. In all the times I've been here, I don't think I've ever been up there before. It was awesome. The whole park always is, but... wow. From the North side of the dome as we walked up, we were treated to simply staggering views of the valley, especially Yosemite Falls. I think I got some great pictures, including one that Daniel took of the rest of us with all of Y Falls in the background.

I really like that I can see the pictures as soon as we take them on my new digital camera (Pentax Optio 555 w/ 512M SD Ultra II chip), but the LCD screen is pretty small and it isn't all that easy to be sure just how good the picture is. You get a reasonable idea of whether the exposure is OK and what the composition is like, but it's hard to see much real detail.

From the top of Sentinel Dome is a 360 degree view of the Valley and a lot of the rest of the park. Just fantastic, even with the overcast we had today. I want to see if I can convince anyone to go up there again before we move down into the Valley on Sunday, if the weather gets better. I tried out the panoramic picture feature on the camera. It's pretty cool; you tell it which way you're going to rotate and then after each shot it shows you part of the picture so you can line up the next properly. Would be better with a larger, brighter LCD, or using the viewfinder (which doesn't ever seem to show any of the data shown on the LCD). Certainly the lighting didn't help...

There's an interesting rock up there that looks like a seat. Well, really, a funny looking toilet seat, particularly if you're in a group of 7 men aged 27 to 35, going on 16. With this group, it wasn't long before someone was daring anyone else to drop their pants and sit on it. John did, even pretending to read my Yosemite guide. Very funny, and at least one of the pictures looks really good. He missed out on the bet ($5) because he only took down his shorts, not his underwear as well.

The total trip for this hike was about 2-1/4 miles. It's easy to get in 10k steps on your pedometer when you're doing a bunch of hiking; got 10,500 today, and that wasn't a particularly long hike. Chris says that the 4k to 4500 I usually get in a day without doing any deliberate walking is pretty good for an office worker. I guess it is. I always thought it was pretty bad.

No comments: