Tuolumne Meadows

May 23, 2015 – After another early breakfast and another foggy/drizzly morning, we made our way to the Tuolumne Grove.  There were a few other cars there, perhaps because this is a more well-publicized sequoia grove, or perhaps because there are large and relatively new toilets there.  The trail goes down an old logging road; it isn’t long, but is a steady grade.  At the bottom there is a grove of sequoia trees, complete with a tunnel tree.  Today there were also a few families of woodpeckers, with the babies chirping from inside the trees and the parents warily watching until the hikers passed.

These trees need a panorama mode for a proper photograph.
These trees need a panorama mode for a proper photograph.

Next we drove through the fog towards Tuolumne Meadows.  The road was previously closed, probably due to fog/snow.  Along the way we briefly paused to watch a grizzly cub; the mama wasn’t within site, and we decided to keep driving.  We were hoping to spend more time in the meadows, but between the water-logged trails and the lack of cell reception, we headed back towards the Merced Grove.

The falls were flowing despite the draught in California.
The falls were flowing despite the draught in California.

We at a picnic lunch in the car and used our cell phones to sign an offer for our house.  The wonders of modern technology. Before going into the valley we took a brief detour to see a few small waterfalls.  We were hoping to stop at another through a small settlement, but the bridge was washed out. Dinner was very good philly cheesesteaks, with onions and white cheese from the cafeteria, and a few equally good bottles of local beer.

Hetch Hetchy and Sugar Pines

May 22, 2015 – Whenever we’re on vacation we like to get up early for breakfast.  It helps us beat the crowds, and makes the morning more relaxing for us.  Breakfast today consisted of coffee and ham and cheese omelets, with toast and potatoes.  The food was good, and the views of the valley in the morning were even better – even with the fog, which made everything rather peaceful.

It was wet and foggy in the valley when we woke up.
It was wet and foggy in the valley when we woke up.

The forecast for the trip was fog and rain most of the days, so we were prepared with rain gear.  Fortunately we lucked out and only had a bit of rain one day (though not fortunately for the water table, which was in desperate need of precipitation). Up first was Merced Grove.  We enjoy this relatively quiet trail, and this time made it all the way to the little cabin within the very tall grove of trees.  It looks like you can actually rent the cabin.

We passed through Camp Mather on the way to Hetch Hetchy.
We passed through Camp Mather on the way to Hetch Hetchy.

Our next stop was Hetch Hetchy.  We enjoy this quiet part of the park, with beautiful valley views (akin to a mini Yosemite Valley), complete with its own version of the Falls, Half Dome and El Capitan. Before our hike we grabbed breakfast burritos from a camp store, along with juice and banana chips.  These burritos were huge – eggs, bacon, cheese, potatoes – and very good.  We’d never tried them before, but I have a feeling they’ll be our new go-to spot for lunch whenever we head to Hetch Hetchy.

You can gain some elevation on the trail. Or a lot of elevation of you go further.
You can gain some elevation on the trail. Or a lot of elevation of you go further.

After lunch we rolled ourselves across the dam and through the slightly-flooded tunnel.  We got about a mile into the hike towards the falls when the trail got washed out.  Not wanting to wade through the water, we turned around and headed back up the trail.  Even without making it all the way, the hike was still a nice stroll with views across the water and lots of wildflowers.

We saw quite a few White-Headed Woodpeckers on the trip.
We saw quite a few White-Headed Woodpeckers on the trip.

On the way back into the park we spotted a rather tame woodpecker.  She hopped around in the trees. Before heading into the Valley we decided to stop at a trail that followed an old sugar pine logging road.  The trail was wide, fairly level, and covered with pine needles.  We were the only hikers on it, and might have been for some time as evidenced by the fallen trees that eventually blocked the trail.

Sugar Pines produce huge pine cones.
Sugar Pines produce huge pine cones.

By dinner time it had started to drizzle, so we got pizza at the Pizza Deck.  The food was good, service was quick, and the pepperoni was spicy. :) After dinner we did a round 2 of walking to the Falls.  We tried to go in the dark last night, but couldn’t find the trail (or see the Falls).  Today was a bit earlier and clearer, and the bit of mist kept most other people away.  We also found where John Muir had a cabin and a sawmill when he worked in the area.

Day in San Francisco – Muir’s Woods, Fish, and Hill Fortifications

May 21, 2015 – We woke up to rainy weather inland, so decided to stay around San Francisco for most of the day before driving over to Yosemite. First up was a trip to Muir’s Woods.  We got there nice and early, and had no problem finding a parking spot.  We decided to try a different hiking trail today, one that we’ve never done before.  There’s a bit of elevation gain at the beginning, but it offers a lovely walk through some fabulous woods.

We woke up to light showers outside the hotel.
We woke up to light showers outside the hotel.

Where to eat lunch but Fish?  Today we tried the crab dip (fantastic… how have we never tried this before?), the sauteed eel and fresh pasta (eel is also surprisingly good), a salmon bahn mi sandwich with coleslaw (the sandwich was great, the coleslaw was heavy on the vinegar, so not my favorite), and a local beer.

This time, we decided to take a hike above the canopy.
This time, we decided to take a hike above the canopy.

After lunch we headed up into the hills to see the fortifications at Hawk Hill.  There is an old, never-finished WWII gun battery on the hills across the water from the city.  The fog cleared towards the city and we had a fun time climbing up the hills to the empty fortifications.

One bridge in Muir Woods was built over a fallen log.
One bridge in Muir Woods was built over a fallen log.

Finally, it was time to get on the road.  And fight our way through rush hour traffic out of the city.  As a PSA, rush hour starts around 2pm.  😉 Dinner was patty melts, fries, and hot green tea at a little restaurant along the road to Yosemite.  Due to the droughts the restaurant was charging $1 for water, so we figured we might as well pay a few cents more and get hot tea instead. We happily checked into our room at the Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, and almost immediately went to sleep.  We’ll be up early the next day!

Flying to SFO

May 20, 2015 – This time around we decided to park at an off-site lot for the airport.  It saved us a bit of money and didn’t really take much longer to get to the terminal, plus we didn’t have to worry about the parking lot being full.

Once we were at the airport we kicked the vacation off right with an iced mocha and a cappuccino from Peet’s Coffee.  Louisa loves their coffee, and Tony agrees that the mochas are pretty good. Dinner was at Stephanie’s; we like their truffled mac ‘n cheese, and the fish and chips are also good.

The flight to SFO was uneventful, and our hotel was fairly close to the airport (definitely good, considering the 3 hour time difference).