Posts by Bughost

THIS WINTER BANDS

Good round of music this winter season at the June Bug Cafe.  Come on in for a super meal and a stunning time!  Keep and eye on this for more coming.

Brothers Strong Band.jpgBands 2018 winter.jpg

Advertisements

Early Fall Itinerary

EARLY FALL ITINERARY

DSCF6759

CAR NOTES:  LEAVE THE BUG BY 9AM OVER THE HOLIDAYS AND WEEKENDS TO AVOID IN-VALLEY TRAFFIC.  OR TAKE THE YARTS BUS at 6:33AM, 10:23AM or 12:12AM. Our excellent June Bug Cafe opens at 7am in fall for breakfast, trail lunches and water to go and dinner is open until 9pm!  The spa closes at 10pm as well.

IN YOSEMITE VALLEY, PARK YOUR CAR AT ONE OF THE LOTS & TAKE THE VALLEY SHUTTLE .  The Yosemite Village parking, Half Dome Village parking, Yosemite Lodge and Camp Four Parking, Hiker’s Parking just before Happy Isles below Vernal Falls.

1ST DAY YOSEMITE VALLEY:  Standard Sightseeing With Some Hiking, Waterfalls & Overlook Point In Yosemite Valley

DSCN1481

Valley Loop Drive for sightseeing:  Half day about 1 hour + bus ride around.  We recommend finding a place to park and taking a free Valley Shuttle Bus around Yosemite Valley for your camera to explore. It goes around to the El Capitan Meadow on the Loop now.  Get out where you want, another bus is 20 minutes behind. Try to shop outside of Yosemite Valley before your trip into the Park because Yosemite Village is a time wasting mess (unless you need family down time whereas it’s worth it for the Museums).   Fall colors are at the west end of the Valley with Maples and at El Capitan Meadow for Black Oaks, the Valley Loop Trail is a nice trail.

Vernal Falls Mist Trail & Overlook and John Muir Trail Loop:  Get off bus at Happy Isles Trailhead for this excellent falls hike.  It is paved until halfway at a view bridge for young children, dogs or strollers.  After that plan on getting very wet up the refreshing Mist Trail granite step to the overlook above the Falls.  Take the relaxing John Muir Trail back down. You can go all the way to the Nevada Falls further up the John Muir Trail for a day hike.  3 miles R/T 1000 foot gain 2-4 Hours. Almost double for Nevada Falls. Take a lunch and 1+ liter water.

Alternative Overlook Point/Big Day Hike? Mirror Lake Loop and the Snow Creek Trail.  So yes, Mirror Lake is crowded and slowly disappears through the summer.  But the full loop around in this riparian shaded area is very nice all the time and has fall color.  At the far end of the loop, go up switchbacks to the Valley Rim where the trail flattens. Skip across the logs to the precipice and lunch there with the full intensity of Half Dome, Quarter Domes and Cloud’s Rest in your face.  Or you can stop halfway up. 4.5 miles, 1400 ft’ gain take a nice lunch and 1.5+ liters water.
IMG_1662

2nd DAY SOUTHERN YOSEMITE:  Hiking & Overlook Point, Sentinel Dome for overlook point and Mariposa Grove for hiking, or use this route going out to Los Angeles:

Mariposa Sequoia Grove:  The access & interpretive renovated Mariposa Grove is open now off of Highway 41 at the South Entrance to Yosemite.  Go early or go late using the Highways 140/49/41 loop through Mariposa and Oakhurst. The lower grove has great interpretation and is okay for strollers, children, and dogs!  The upper grove makes the outing a half day, more of a hike and it’s a true grove where you are immersed in sequoias! The Galen Clark cabin visitor’s center is super cool. Fall colors right now would be Dogwood.

Wawona Covered Bridge & Pioneer Center:  The bridge is 150 years old!  The assemblance of the historical cabins from the first superintendents cabin to the Wells Fargo cabin excite.  Look up Sugar Pine Railroad beforehand too just south of the south entrance.

Sentinel Dome:  Stop at Washburn Point rather than Glacier Point instead to avoid crowds if you are not hiking.  Otherwise definitely stop along the road at Sentinel Dome Trailhead and head out on the rolling trail one mile to the Dome.  Sentinel Dome is very easy for a stunning 360 degree view of the park and valley! Go little further to Taft Point for a loop walk, it has cool rock formations and views.  2-4 hours depending, take a liter+ water and lunch! On holiday weekends get here very early or late to avoid parking and bussing at Badger Pass. Go back to the Bug through Yosemite Valley.

IMG_3034

Alternative Overlook Point/Big Day Hike?  All day 4 Mile and Panoramic Trails.  Get there at dawn for an all day experience.  Why drive to Glacier Point when you can hike there?  Start at 4 Mile Trailhead at the Loop Drive, stop at Glacier Point and then continue around Chilnualna Falls then down Nevada and Vernal Falls.  Catch the bus and ask the driver where to get off. Take a big lunch, snacks and 2 liters+ water. Our favorite Valley Rim Hike!

DSCF5020

3rd DAY YOSEMITE HIGH SIERRA:  Hiking, Overlook Point and Lake walk for full day or use this route of Highway 120 East/Tioga Pass going to Las Vegas or Lake Tahoe.  THIS WILL CLOSE SOON AND NO SERVICES AVAILABLE! IT CAN BE COOL DAYTIMES.

Tuolumne Grove:  If you have no time for the Mariposa Sequoia Grove then A stop enroute to Tuolumne Meadows for this grove. Two miles in an out on an old roadbed take 1 liter water.

DSCF9816

Olmstead Point: Just before Tenaya Lake this is an excellent camera stop and short trail to look down Yosemite Valley from the east!

Tenaya Lake Loop: One of the most beautiful places in the park!  Hike around the lake and take a lunch for your favorite view spot. OR May Lake Walk: Nice family walk to a beautiful Lake under Mt Hoffman. You can also make a day hike to it’s summit for the best Sierras view.

Pothole Dome:  For a family friendly half hour walk stop at left just at the entrance to the meadow for a quick hike up Pothole Dome for an uplifting experience of the High Sierra.  For a stunning elevated view do Lembert Dome.

DSCF5836

Lembert Dome:  A fabulous loop hike from the base of the dome parking area this gives a elevated Yosemite High Sierra view.  This is the one hike you must do.  4 miles, 850 ft gain, take a lunch and 1.5 liters+ water.

OR Lyell Canyon:  Walk up this low elevation gain passive glacial canyon for a beautiful floral alpine sunny day out from Tuolumne Meadows.

IF going to Vegas or Tahoe be sure to see Mono Lake, nearby Crater Walk and Bodie Ghost Town just to the north, there will be Aspens up every canyon or Cottonwoods in color at the Valley floor.

DSCF9946

Alternative Overlook Point/Big Day Hike?  Cathedral Lakes is a beautiful set of lakes to swim in after a 8.6 mile 1000 ft gain round trip trail.  Always in sight is the fascinating Cathedral Peak. From the lakes edge look down into Yosemite Valley from the east.  If you overnight, go a little further to Columbia’s Finger to look southwest of park. Take a nice lunch and 2+ liters of water.


HALF DAY NORTH YOSEMITE GOING OUT TO SF FROM THE VALLEY:  Hiking, Overlook Point and Lake walk for full day or use this route of Highway 120 West going to San Francisco via 120.

DSCF8584

Hetch Hetchy:  This hike is nice and warm in fall.  The falls aren’t going yet, but the reservoir view in this second Yosemite Valley is stunning.  Hike across the dam and up the far side. Great for children.

HALF DAY or GOING HOME on HIGHWAY 140:  Mariposa and Merced River Wild & Scenic Area

At The Bug:  Take the two hour Bug Loop trail in the morning or evening.  It can be very difficult, slippy, steep and narrow. Look for the green diamond marker on the trees every 50 feet about 12 feet up and at intersections.  Red markers are trail back to the lodge. The blue marker is a short cut halving the walk.  Spend some good time in the sauna and hot tub at the Yosemite Health Spa or get a massage or specialty bath!

DSCN0536 (1)

Merced River Wild and Scenic Area:  From Briceberg Bridge upstream there is a single track trail for dogs or Mountain Bikes.  You can also mountain bike up the Burma Grade going up right there or cycle downstream on the dirt road (5 miles each way).  Downstream at the end of the dirt road trek along the river you can walk to a cascade just before the North Fork of the Merced with your dog.

Mariposa Old Gold Town & Museums: Shop along the old 1850’s era block and see the Old Jail and the oldest operating western Courthouse.  The Mariposa History Museum takes you back to the Gold Rush, whereas the California State Gem and Mineral Museum at the Mariposa Fairgrounds shows what was dug up here and the rest of California.  Music on the Green every Saturday eve in summer only.

Yosemite Autumn at the Bug

DSCF9755
Nice and calm but still yet warm, autumn in Yosemite is about warmth and reflection.
Community centered events like the Yosemite Songwriting Retreat, the New Moon Festival, Yoga Jambalaya, Yosemite Spa and Yoga Retreat, Thanksgiving Dinner and NOLS Wilderness First Responder courses.
Time to catch the last of the Yosemite High Sierra at Lembert Dome, Gaylor Lake, the Clark Range and Mt Hoffman.  Don’t forget the cinder cones, ghost towns and yellow cottonwoods of the East Side of the Sierras.
Yosemite Valley’s Rim needs your attention in the likes of Half Dome, Cloud’s Rest, El Capitan, Sentinel Dome and Panoramic Trail before winter sets in.
Find some time for rest after this busy summer fades behind you and come on up!
Firstly, Thanksgiving Dinner on Thursday November 22 is open 3:30pm to 8:30pm.   Come near the beginning or the end for best service,on this busy holiday dinner!  Yummmmy!
eastbaysixthsongwriting

Yosemite Songwriting Retreat

October 5th through 8th 2018
Laura Love, David Jacobs Strain, and Joe Craven perform and instruct in this 5th annual songwriting event.  Sign up now for Songwriting Methodologies, Practical Applications of Techniques, Intro to Slide Guitar, Demystifying the Recording Process, Packaging Your Song, Improvising in Songwriting, On the Radio, Get the Gig, Fresh Sounds:  Writing Music, Writing Words, From Start to Finish, Writing Song For Kids, and Writing Songs With Kids, and Mentor Sessions with with instructors.  Register here,  and call the Bug at 866.826.7108 x5 for the all-inclusive hospitality package!  Joe Craven’s video about songwriting.
 bouldering

 NEW MOON FESTIVAL

A FESTIVAL THAT WILL LEAVE YOU FEELING YOU INSPIRED, REJUVENATED & EMPOWERED

The New Moon Festival – Yosemite Edition – is an all-inclusive retreat into one of the most serene landscapes on earth. It brings together 150 influencers from around the world to DISCOVER the majesty of nature, to EMBRACE the gifts and lessons in every moment, and to embody PRESENCE as the ultimate contribution.
Sometimes life can be overwhelming, and in those moments, we lose ourselves in the midst of all the chaos. It leaves us feeling burnt out, depleted, unhappy. The New Moon Fest is a weekend to get centered, to realign with your dreams and visions, to elevate your body/mind/spirit, and ultimately, to build a lasting, supportive community.

MEDITATION, SOUND HEALING, BOULDERING, FIRE CEREMONY, SEXCRAFTING, ACROYOGA, HIKING, HOT TUBBING, WORLD CLASS MEALS, EFT, TAO, CUDDLE PUDDLE, DUDE SKYWALKER, LODGING, VINYASA YOGA, BODYWORK & ECSTATIC DANCE.

Panorama of the Milky Way galaxy sweeping across the night sky at Yosemite National Park's iconic Tunnel View

YOSEMITE YOGA & SPA RETREAT 

November 9-12 2018
Unwind and relax in the beautiful Yosemite Valley before the hustle of the holidays. Enjoy morning yoga classes, evening meditation and satya circles, and all day access to the spa for complete relaxation. Explore the magic of the park, eat delicious and healthy food, detox in the spa and rejuvenate your body, mind and soul through yoga.

You Tube

unnamed.png


NOLS WILDERNESS MEDICINE

Bodie Room & Outdoors
Wilderness First Responder Course    November 26th – December 6th 2017
Wilderness First Responder Recertification  December 7-10th
If you work or recreate in the outdoors or in other austere environments where access to medical care is delayed or communication is unreliable, our 9-10 day Wilderness First Responder course is for you! It is the industry standard for professional guides, trip leaders, search and rescue team members, outdoor recreationists, and international travelers.

Upon completion, you will be able to conduct a thorough physical exam, obtain a patient history, assess vital signs, provide emergency care in the wilderness, and make crucial evacuation decisions.  You’ll learn both in the classroom and in outdoor settings regardless of weather, so come prepared for wet, muddy, cold or hot environments!  Call us at 209.966.6666 x2 to book at tuition only or for the whole package including room and the June Bug Cafe’s quality food!

wmiwfra
DSCF4965

YOGA JAMBALAYA

Yosemite Health Spa and Bodie Room
Saturday November 10th 2018
Join the ever-growing Balanced Rock yoga community at our
14th Annual Yoga Jambalaya. Experience a carefully crafted blend of yoga classes from Yosemite-inspired instructors while rejuvenating in the Yosemite Bug’s full spa including hot tub and sauna. This one-day workshop is a great opportunity to give a boost to your yoga practice, connect with friends old and new, or pamper yourself for a day.
The teachers for this event re all highly trained, professional, certified yoga instructors who bring a wealth of knowledge and a passion to share it.Each instructors adds their own unique flavor of teaching, love and open heartedness.  Advanced registration is strongly advised although you may also pay at the door on a first come first serve basis

THE TREE’S COLORFUL LIFE

cropseq

Unlike Galen Clark, I couldn’t tell you an Ash or a Blue Elderberry if it slapped me in the face during a hike.  There are many trees in the Sierra I will not know for years.  But I bet I am not much different than you for we all have our favorite trees, yes?

You can read a ton about Mr. Clark or his writings, but his inspiration for me is the determination  to protect the Mariposa Grove of Sequoia trees he stumbled upon near his Wawona settlement.  Outside of the immense respect I have of another hotelier making something from nothing, he clearly loved the land and the living trees around him.  When you wander about the Upper Mariposa Grove where he had a cabin, still standing, you cannot help but be immersed in another plane of existence.  It seems after the Lower Mariposa Grove and the drive, I am dragging others through the pre-dusk Sequoia forest when the orange red colors of the bark seem to glow in the half light.  It is enchanting and worth any camera, including the most sophisticated, your eye.

For more colorful tales, you must come in the autumn.  Sure, in California this season doesn’t seem to show up until the last minute in late October after a warm Indian Summer.  But you know instinctively the color changes as the cold slowly spreads down from the peaks of the High Sierra into December.  Yes, we have heard recently that the broadleaf trees are always yellow or red underneath the green at all times.  That the chlorophyll the trees make is the green you see, and when the sunlight gets thinner the tree makes less of it to cover the other colors.  Romantically, I prefer to believe the trees are giving their last shimmering display before the deep winter breath puts them in hibernation.

Outside of the Quaking Aspens & Cottonwoods up the Eastern Sierra’s canyons you must see when driving to or from LV or LA in October, you will find yourself focusing upon Yosemite Valley.  This is for good reason since the fall colors in the Big Leaf Maple, White Alder, Black Oak, Pacific Dogwood & Black Cottonwood are easily accessible there.   The first maple section on loop road alone makes you want to double park and walk down the centerline for the view.  Give yourself the time and explore the entire or a few sections of the underrated Valley Loop trail to find the secrets you desire.  Spend extra time at quiet & still sections of the Merced riverbanks.

At the Tunnel View parking area you cannot miss the lush spread of evergreens that appear to be freshly laid dark green shag walk-to-wall carpet of Yosemite Valley.  Hiking up around Tuolumne Meadows during summer the Lodgepole, Mountain Hemlock & Whitebark Pine show you how they thin out and shorten closer to the tree line.  Yes, in fact, you can never escape the cloaking, reassuring presence of the conifers about Yosemite.  But it is winter that shows how very much alive they are.  The mixed conifer forests about Wawona  and Crane Flat trails are the most fascinating.

The Rockefeller Grove is a case in point.  Though I want to send you there to look for a hidden grove of sequoias, what you must always be paying attention to are the specimen Sugar Pines, Jeffrey Pines, White Pines, Dogwood, Douglas Fir, White Fir,  & Incense Cedar.  The frosted Sugar Pine foot long cones are irresistible to touch.  Rub and smell the sweetness of the sugary sap that drops off them and be happy.  The nearby trail to Merced Sequoia Grove is also outstanding.

What comes down must go up, no?  It is unclear why I see summer as the midpoint of the year, but I feel that is the way California is.  The warmth slowly moves up from the blooming pink fruit & nut trees in the Central Valley.  The first line of Blue Oaks come into view with the most true fresh green leafing buds opening up as you drive past the old barns & grazing cattle.  The evergreen Live Oaks even have new bright red & green serrated leaflets further up the hill.  Of course, the Black Oaks leafing above the Bug is what makes me the happiest, you can feel youth flowing in your veins.  The flowers litter the ground everywhere shortly afterwards.  Just follow youth all the way up to the highest peaks in July to hear the tiniest alpine flowers trumpeting for all animals to drop by for a visit.

In the land of fire we all understand the risks.  The forest seems to to want to embrace the flame for health because regular low burning fires do help California forests.  Look at the relationship the Sequoia and the Bristlecone pines have with fire.  Both have seeds that need fire to open and help germinate.  The red bark on the Sequoia has so much tannin it can resist the regular fires throughout it’s long life.  Burn areas open ground to a variety of tree seeds that would find it hard to penetrate the forest floor cover. unless another tree fell over.  You know you are in a healthy Western American forest when it is easy to wander through and get lost in your mind rather than in person.  Well then at last, summers hot wind brings out the earthy resin-piney smell that Sierra forests emit just for you,

Yep, that’s what I like most about all these trees.  The air is so fresh and healthy because they exhale the cleanest oxygen ever!   Even the water seems to breath in all that sweet air while spraying over cliffs and sloshing whitewater over boulders to get as much of it is possible before becoming meandering laggard rivers on the flatlands and out to sea.  But not before I get to frolic about in it’s refreshing and clear eddies below my home here at the Bug.

DSCN2196

THE HIGH SIERRA FOR THE HIGH MINDED

DSCN1525

So there tends to be an itinerary in every summer visitor’s mind of what to see on their Yosemite vacation:  A waterfalls, an elevated view of Yosemite Valley & a sequoia grove.  This is, in fact, what we would recommend to any guest staying for 2-3 days.  However, you might find such an itinerary reduced to this:  Walking up to Lower Yosemite Falls (or Vernal Falls if you are adventurous), driving to Glacier Point for a scary look over the cliff, and walking through the Lower Mariposa Sequoia Grove to the Grizzly Giant and back.

We would like to believe our average guest may be somewhere between this description and a recreational rock climber.  And though you may wish to climb up the cable to Half Dome once or twice in your lifetime, really you are looking to avoid the tidbits in summer every other chicken in the yard is crowding in on.  Well read on then.

Yosemite’s High Sierra.  TaDa!

There’s one day, at least, in your trip to enjoy in the rarefied air of the high country.  You may encounter many hikers, but it is joyous.  You come to say hello, or, er, chat, with another soul enjoying the sun and 12000′ mountain tops in your view.  You are all here to be the 11% of park visitors who make it our of Yosemite Valley or off the road.

Let’s talk about he the Tioga Pass Road.  Sure, it is two and a half hours over the Sierras, plus a bit more from the Bug.  But you have made a wise and fulfilling choice.  This road is closed up to 6 months of the year.  You can stop and do the Tuolumne Grove near Crane Flat.  A mile in and a mile out on the old road surrounded by 300 year old Sugar Pines to the Grove.  There’s Olmstead Point & Tenaya Lake.  My first sighting of a cute little Pika was in the scree below the viewpoint looking down on the lee side of Half Dome.  You should take the little hike out to the real viewpoint.  Note, at the other end of the carpark is a great view of Tenaya Lake & Piwiak Dome, my favorite in the Park.

Tenaya Lake.  Hmmm. How many times have I asked myself to bring a sea kayak and paddle out onto that for hours to soak in various aspects of the view.  On one occasion I have ice skated out and around, and it isn’t the same as from a car on the road.  Eat lunch on his shores if a casual traveller.  The walk about the lake is fantastic as is the Sunrise Lake Trailhead which is a starting point for Cloud’s Rest, my superior & easier replacement for Half Dome’s hike.  Take the kids and lay upon the sunny beach at the far end while they romp and play in the water (just take your suncream since you will get more UV up here).  The low angle granite rising from the lake can make a good future mountaineer of anyone well prepared.

Further up into Toulumne Meadows you have quite a few options.  Take the time and plan this hike as your one hike of the day: Lembert Dome.   Park at its feet and take the 2-3 hours left up and around.  Take the short spur to Dog Lake for a refresh.  Once on top you will see what Lembert does for Tuolumne Meadows: An elevated view of the High Sierra over a huge alpine meadow with the Tuolumne River running through it.  Can’t be explained.  Don’t leave your pack to far away in your reverie since you may find a marmot has found it and taken all of your lunch.  Walking down and crossing the road a bit follow the meadow back and see Belding Ground Squirrels popping up to take a look at you. We love to mimic their bark to have them stay a few moments longer up on their hind legs.

There is Cathedral Lakes hikes if you have more time.  Cathedral Peak will change faces for you on your journey.  There are multiple Park views from points above & around the lakes worthy finding.  You can go a bit further for views of Tresidder Peak and  sit upon Columbia Finger for an inspiring rest above the world.  Glen Aulin is a High Sierra Camp below White Cascades.  It is a long hike but you have no need to complete it, you can turn around along the meadow at any time or you can make prior arrangements to stay there.  Most of the elevation loss on this trail is near the end.  Stop at Soda Springs and Parson’s Lodge on the way for a bit of history from the darks ages before the Park Service!  Everyone should plan a 3-4 day backpacking trip further down the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne for one of the best backcountry hikes in the US in my estimation.  Think a longer narrow Yosemite Valley all to yourself.

Mono Pass trail is the ancient Paiute trading trail with a view of all points east including Mono Lake with a small alpine lake at the top.  Lyell Canyon heads in the direction of Devils Postpile near Mammoth as a backcountry hike, but I love the perfect glacier valley shape, the wildlife & the peace of the canyon itself.  Perfect place to stare up into the clouds for hours (if there are any).  There’s close by Elizabeth Lake  and Gaylor Lakes from Tioga Pass.

We can talk all day about the steep East Side of the Sierras.  It’s towns, hot springs, historical sites, ghost towns, canyons and bristlecone forests.  If you are going to Tahoe, Vegas or LA, do NOT miss the summer opportunity to circle around the east side around after Yosemite.  You will be happy.

We can still finish with the alternative options for falls, elevated views of Yosemite Valley & sequoia groves.  So here it is:  Vernal Falls runs all year, so take the Mist Trail up, and/or down with the John Muir to lunch up on top of the falls.  You can go further for the just-as-beautiful Nevada Falls.  Sentinel Dome is a nice one mile in and one mile out cheat for avoiding Glacier Point.  It is spectacular for sunset and a bottle of wine. And lastly, yes, go the extra mile for the upper Mariposa Grove with to be surrounded by the giants and on to Wawona Point.

OR, take the easy similar walk down to the quiet Merced Grove, with its log cabin you will want to spend the rest of the year in.  Maybe the rest of your life like me.

Image

THE WATERSHED WONDERS

DSCF3438

Hardly five months after we opened in ’96 we were cut off from Yosemite upstream because of a raging Merced River.  On a very warm New Year’s Eve we were playing pool in t-shirts on the covered deck, both now gone, drinking great beer in celebration.  The corrugated tin roof shot a stream of water from each low curve of the corrugation, making it like the old Tonga Room Hurricane Show.  The storm was easily recognizable to a native Californian to be a Pineapple Express.  This one had barreled up from Hawaii direction with a special blessing from El Nino and was now raining up to 12000 foot elevation where a early and large snow pack had already been dumped.  You see old timer pictures of Central Valley towns under 20 feet of water and folks upon the roofs, but after a century and a half of taming the Sierra and Valleys you don’t think much of this kind of disaster.  The first guest off to the park returned in short order to make it clear the river was up over the highway and impassable.  What with tent cabins floating down the river, roads washed away and visitors in the Park cutoff for days because of this “100 year flood” it was a disaster to us.  I hunkered down alone for three months awaiting an open road hoping to make it through without guests.

My favorite stories though were about water flowing on all parts of the Yosemite Valley floor.  If not from the river, then from water flowing down from all the granite walls.  Now THAT would have been a truly wondrous boast to say you had seen a waterfall stretch around the whole valley like a end of the world sci-fi flick!   The rest of us, however will make due with the water falls that the late winter and spring provides us every year. For all the times a traveller will go out of his way to see one, a waterfall is clearly one of those entrancing natural phenomenon humans cannot resist.  Now time that by dozens and you have a happy traveller!

Where to begin?  Once you have seen tall waterfalls about the earth, you tire of looking up in wikipedia which is tallest in what way on what continent and how a new one has changed the boastful line-up.  Sort of like Amundsen, Scott, Dawson or Shackleton, who remembers, they are all great!?  Even in deference to storied Angel Falls, Yosemite Falls still holds my attention whenever I visit the valley.  It’s the water mark on the cliff face when it’s gone by October that requires you to envision it anyway that makes me laugh at my own stare.  The snow cone that develops through deep winter cold as water turns to ice on the falling journey.  I have yet to carry a scoop, cup and cherry soda syrup up the upper Yosemite Falls Trail and clamber across the rocks at it’s base to make a statement but don’t count me out.  Catching it at it’s highest flow and watching how it angrily shoots off that first outcrop trying to defy gravity and tossing out thunderous roar of water bashing itself against the cliff and talus must be experienced.  Yes, you may think that taking you grandma or your dog to the Lower Falls paved trail is boring, but you must do it first!  The Upper Falls trail is popular in winter because is is south facing and stunning from Columbia Point, it also leads you close to the Upper Falls in winter.  In summer go to the top peering every other moment at the falling water and cross it at the top (over a bridge always for smart humans of course) and peer over victoriously!  Until you see someone slack-lining nearby to the Lost Arrow Spire…

Now I could write a book about all the Falls in Yosemite so we will stick to my favorites, sure.  Too bad so many are everyone else’s favorites like Vernal & Nevada Falls!  First off, everyone who visits wants me to go see them too can any time of year.  But in early summer on a hot day will I fail to tell them they will be soaked getting to the top.  Only through having your sins washed away will you receive an epiphany about your existence at the sunny top.  There you will ogle at the water rushing over the clean straight edge into the abyss clutching wisely at a steel pipe rail. A form perfect falls it is.  For those who are adventurous, catch the Glacier Point shuttle bus from the Valley and do the Panoramic Trail from the Point, stopping to see Illilouette, Nevada and Vernal Falls down to the Valley in one stunning half loop.

Another exceptional falls walk is to the Wapama Falls in Hetch Hetchy.  This place is a warmer, lower elevation,more winter than late spring excursions.  These falls, like Yosemite Falls, make a warm winter day seem summery as only California can.  Though this dam should have never been placed here, that event should not be held against the beauty it still offers.  Any child inside would love the skip across the curved 1920’s design dam, into a dripping and puddled long tunnel perfect for laughing and whistles and exit upon scenes really made by artists like   Parrish and Hopper.  The Native Indian signage adds depth & wonder to the trek through their flooded home.  As you pass the Tueeuala and then the more substantial Wapama.  You can go further on the trek to Rancheria Falls, our favorite as swimming holes when the current is near nil. Possibly one day you could plan a five day Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne backpacking trip from Tuolumne Meadows mid-summer, stair-stepping all the way down through different unspoilt ecosystems, cooling off on the various holes and cascades, through burnt forests until you glimpse the super massive guard Kolana Rock reflected on the lake before it.  Learn to keep an eye out for rattlers!

We could extend this blog upon the virtues of flaming Horsetail, sculpted Bridalveil, hidden Chilnualna, stair stepped Sentinel Falls and exhilarating Ribbon Falls, but you wouldn’t have much to explore for you next time!  It seems everywhere you travel in this mountain range there are going to be cascades to entrance that basic part of you.

The other story I liked about New Years ’97 was about watching boulders the size of small houses bounce and smash against each other while being pushed down the steeper part below Arch Rock Entrance.  The colossal rock vs rock collisions made bright blue sparks seen from deep below the raging grey water.  You could hear the thunder each episode made through the wind, rain and whitewater decibels.  Like the dangerous rockfalls that happen regularly enough in Yosemite, I am not sure I want to see that in person at all.

SNOW ADVENTURES

555304_528932157138587_1654722539_n

Any winter at Yosemite has snow.  But the tiny sparkly glitter vying for your attention from the white blanket as you ski through a sunny meadow is the best that it gets.  For all the stunning views you can get around this park in winter you still appreciate the true mountain meadow framed in hefty lodgepole pines and a cloudless cerulean blue sky the most.  Surely it doesn’t hurt that the stunning silence interspersed  with your heartbeat in your ears while looking about during the pause. It is all thrilling to embrace.

You can play at different venues nature has made available to you.  Some have cool man-made perks to round it off.  Let’s talk Badger Pass first.  This old small ski resort is an oddity.  Really not up to super wonderful mega resort standards or price, this place is still a little gem.  Sure a fast pro downhill skier could get down that slope in a matter of seconds. Who cares?  This place is made for the those who absorb rather than gulp.

I like bringing along someone who is need a new adventure, be it child or adult, to learn the basics in the universe of snowsport.  An excellent place to learn and to goof off.  Build your own jump before the staff makes a big one or find a tree zone with powder only you can get through. After you, of course,  have thoroughly upset your pupil at the lift tops before he heads off to a more considerate and professional ski class offered much nearer the lodge.  Don’t forget the extra refreshing beer stop somewhere in the day at the Snowflake Lounge.

For those adventurists who plan well you must look up Ostrander Hut, Dewey Point and Glacier Point Ski Hut starting at Badger Pass.  All of these are worth the time and effort that will be extracted from you!  Ostrander Hut has that winter hostel warmth, chatter and cosiness that make the eves and funs as the ski days.  My best memories is a hilarious themed charades game we played once.  After summiting the squat  Horse Ridge you can see the stunning Mt Starr King and Clark Range in the High Sierra before you ski back down to the hut.  When the lake outside the hut is frozen, circuit it in your skis during  a pink and purple sunset or bring your skates if there has been little snow.

Dewey is a snowshoe destination from the Badger parking lot done in a day starting at dawn.  We have taken many tours there to the narrow but spectacular winter Yosemite Valley view point.  Everyone roundly comments upon the cool meadows we pass through near the beginning, grumbles under the heavy breath about a half mile from the point, ogles with joy and exuberance  upon arrival, find new and imaginative words about their guides the last grueling mile back and then; showers us with accolades and beer upon our return to the Bug.  We smile and laugh throughout.  After all, if they just knew how to use touring XC skis, it would be half the time; but would you stop to see if the tracks are from Pine Martin, Deer Mice, Chickaree or White-tailed Jackrabbit?

Glacier Point Ski Hut is at the end of the 10.5 mile snow covered & groomed road from Badger.  This trip on track skis or fun skate skis is exhilarating!  Upon arrival at the hostel style ski hut, take your time with exceptional company that night, and track about the starry sky with cocoa in your hands.  The stunning winter views of Half  Dome and environs make the summer views seem cheap and unworthy of your heart.

The reason the Bug rents snowshoes is really for the Groves.  Tuolumne Grove is the easiest on an old gradient road. For those inclined and do not get lost, go off trail downslope and stay above the creek until you wander into orange and green monsters in full contrast to the white powdery blanket.  Merced Grove is half as much longer and steeper in part.  But the peace and quiet with the nifty log cabin nestled under the big trees that draws you to investigate are worth the trip.  For those who need something new, try the Rockefeller Grove of old sugar pines a bit further down the road.

In the Valley just after a heavy winter storm, yes, you can ski about the meadows and take the best pictures of your long life.  In absence of that, however, the Curry Ice Rink is makes happiness several times a day.  Where else can you skate under a Half and North Dome painted red with sunset!  Take a break with coffee next to the fire pit and push yourself out for more happiness under the stars in a twirl.

Lastly and sadly, are the winter adventures I have not yet done.  Years of stories about an old ski hut above Snow Creek, used commercially in the 20’s, squatted by hippies in the 70’s , boarded and locked up for years, this old place holds my imagination as a cross between Hansel & Gretel’s Gingerbread  Witch Cabin and Sound of Music Meadow on Fungi.  I ran into a friend who invited me up to the place midweek to ensure a spot to crash using skis and snowshoes. If this part is NOT updated by next February, you will know to join Yosemite Winter Club and do the Trans-Sierra Ski Trip which uses this cabin enroute from Tuolumne Meadows to find out what happened to me!