Thursday, May 23, 2013

Coarsegold to Yosemite Park

May 16-21, 2013

The Sierra ESP Park is a nicely laid out facility, lots of amenities, but they could use a pool ?  We ended up in a full hookup site that is actually sort of private.  This is a co-op park, everything is owned by the members and most work is also done by them.  It is about three miles from the town of Coarsegold, which gets its name from an early settler who found a big coarse gold nugget here.  The downtown has a historic park area with a few interesting antique and art/craft shops.  Also lots of wood signs and carving here, especially bears.  Also a few restaurants and a really good ice cream shop which we immediately sampled. 

We have been on a every other day cycle into Yosemite Park with between days spent exploring local towns, shopping, laundry and other necessary evils.  Actually I need a rest day after 140 miles of driving those crazy twisting roads to and inside the park.   

On Thursday we visited Yosemite National Park, it was cool and cloudy all day, but the cloud cover had the affect of making the landscape photos more interesting.  The tourist crowds are much heavier at Yosemite, when we parked at "Tunnel View" the tourists were swarming and practically jumping in front of us for the best photo angle. We drove into the Yosemite Village area and walked around, then to the visitors center, the museum, the Ansel Adams Gallery and the Indian village.  

On Friday afternoon, we went to the town of Oakhurst, to shop and explore.  It is larger than Coarsegold and has more to offer.  We visited a really nice antique store that had great stuff, saw much that I liked, but didn't buy anything.  One of the biggest adjustments to make with the RV full time lifestyle is that you don't have room for non-practical stuff.  You can't just buy cool stuff, unless it is very small and most of the stuff I like is big.  The high point of the afternoon for me was a stop at the "Dirty Donkey Tavern" for a couple of beers.  It was hard core biker theme, decorated with biker shirts and signs. It was dark, there was a pool table, several locals, a couple of trailer trash types, but all friendly.

Saturday was a return to Yosemite Park and a drive on the "Glacierpoint Road" to the Sentinel Dome trailhead.  It is a 2. 2 mile roundtrip hike on the Sentinel Trail to Sentinel Dome at 8,122 foot elevation.  The views were incredible and everyone relaxed at the top to soak them in.  After hiking back to the trailhead, we then hiked the Taft Point trail to Taft Point.  The views from both Sentinel Dome and Taft Point were beyond incredible. You could see down into the Yosemite Valley in one direction, snow covered mountains to the east, along with great views of Half Dome, El Capitan and Yosemite Falls.  The hikes also passed through beautiful forest, huge trees, lush green meadows, pockets of remaining snow and babbling streams.  I'm tired of saying: It doesn't get much better than this. Twinkles said that we may need a trip to someplace kind of ugly soon, for a break, so we can get the "WOW " feeling back when we see these beautiful places.  

We have noticed a few oddities about California so far, although I'm not complaining.  
1. Cost of beer and cigarettes is cheap ?  Beer is almost cheaper than water ?
2. Diesel is about the same price as regular and cheaper than expected, under $4.00/gal.

On Sunday I went for a big breakfast at the "Miners Cafe" in Coarsegold.  It is a folksy friendly cafe with real home style cooking.  I went for the Breakfast bowl, biscuit and gravy, sausage, hash browns and eggs all mixed together, Yum !  People are very friendly here, there was an elderly man at the cafe who made a point to talk to the Italian tourists at the next table.  They were from Sicily and he had visited there once; he told them that he found the Sicilian people to be very friendly and were not gangsters as portrayed by American television.

Monday was back to Yosemite to the Maricopa Grove.  The Maricopa Grove is the largest grove of Sequoia trees in Yosemite Park.  We did about 4 miles of hiking on the trails through the lower and upper groves.  There were so many huge trees and not just Sequoia's, the various fir trees are also huge.  The high points were the "Grizzley Giant Tree" (5th largest tree in world), the California tunnel tree and the most famous of all, the "Wawona Tunnel Tree".  This is the tree you see in all the old photos with cars passing through it, unfortunately it fell down in 1969, but they left it just as it fell and it continues to be a popular attraction. 

The National Park Service has changed how they manage the Sequoia forest in the past few decades and it is a work in progress.  In the past they suppressed fires, both natural and man made, thinking it was saving the forest.  As time went on they then started to notice that there were very few new Sequoia tree seedlings.  Research determined that the Sequoia's need fire for the seeds to germinate. Also without fires the brush accumulates under and between trees which results in a much hotter catastrophic fire when one does start that kills trees and is difficult to stop. Now they do planned prescribed burns and the Sequoia's forest is going back to a more natural healthy state.  Strangely, the native Indians used to do similar burns in the forest well before the white man came on the scene.  Almost all old Sequoia Trees have fire scars, some are huge, but it does not hurt them.       

Tuesday was a trip into Fresno to get two new RV tires and  get the oil changed in the truck.  We also visited "Paul Evert's RV Country", the girl at the check out counter did get a little nervous when she saw my name on the credit card. 

Wednesday was back to Yosemite to hike the "Mist Trail", it is the most popular trail in Yosemite.  It is only a mile and a half trail, but is a steady uphill climb with a few hundred killer steps at the end with heavy mist from the "Vernal Falls" blowing on you, wetting you down.  At the top is a huge rock area where everyone collapses to rest and dry off, have a snack, take photos and absorb the incredible sights. You are able to stand right on the edge of the raging Merced River as it plunges over the edge and drops 594 feet in the Vernal Falls. Once back down we then took the shuttle bus to stop 16 for the Yosemite Falls trail that is a short easy trail that takes you to a great viewpoint near the bottom of the Falls.  The Yosemite Falls is a three tiered waterfall falling 2,425 feet, the largest in North America and the 5th largest in the world. 

We are now planning where to go from here, I wish we could just float around, but this big rig inhibits the freedom of the road.    

That's all for now, stay tuned for more.

Twinkles and Slick

Old Yosemite postcard

The local Indians were fantastic bowl makers

Cloudy view from Yosemite Valley 

Lush green wet Yosemite Valley

Valley view with Yosemite Falls in background

Interesting sign in the Donkey Tavern

Our goal top of Sentinel Dome

View of Yosemite Falls from Sentinel Dome

Snow capped mountain views from Sentinel Dome

View down into Yosemite Valley from Sentinel Dome

Another scenic view from Sentinel Dome

View of Half Dome from Sentinel Dome

Taft Point  view

Close to the edge at Taft View

View of Falls from Taft Point, it's a long way down

View of Yosemite Valley from Taft Point, gives you a feeling for
the heighth above the valley floor

Beautiful flowers against solid Marble rock

Inside covered bridge at Wawona, girl in the background ran the length of the
bridge several times and as she went by she said  "This is is fun"

A view of the Grizzly Giant Sequoia tree

The Fir trees are huge too !

Beautiful Sequoia Trees in front of Maricopa Grove Museum

Twinkles resting in front of huge Sequoia

Michelle on top of famous fallen Wawona Tunnel Tree, she was
running back and forth on top of the tree as her friends took
photos of her

Another still standing tunnel tree in the Mariposa Grove

Vernal Falls from the Mist Trail

View of the Merced River just before the Falls

Fantastic view at the top of the Vernal Falls

I'm on the edge, The Merced River drops 594 feet right here

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