California - a description of our 'equipment' and an exploration of the valley
We woke early and had breakfast from the picnic bench on our site with the company of a few hopeful ravens. Here is the car we rented, a Dodge Grand Caravan, with Mairi standing next to it. There were two opposing sets of seats in the rear, one of which had been taken out and replaced with a wooden storage box where we kept our bags and the bed linen. At night a foam mattress was unfurled to give a double bed and it was pretty comfortable. In the 'trunk' was a small sink from which the plug was missing - we did not find one to fit until nearly the end of the holiday and made do with sponges squeezed in to stop the water flowing away. We also had a 2 burner camping stove and a box of rather battered bowls, plates and cutlery, one saucepan and a frying pan. Only one spoon unfortunately but we found a plastic one in the Yosemite shop to supplement. Also was provided one 5 gallon fresh water container and one for the waste to drain into. We rented a cooler box which ran from a 12 volt socket at the rear of the car. A bit of a rag tag assortment of stuff.
I had booked the campsite weeks beforehand, it was always full and for the summer you need to book months in advance. I had wanted to be fairly close to the loos but had not realised that the thoroughfare lay over our piece of ground. There were no showers but we did find some public ones down the road in Curry Village. However we had decided that on this holiday personal hygiene was not a priority!
The beauty of the setup was that the car was easy to drive, you could take it down some of the dirt roads and it did not use too much fuel (comparatively), so we were not at all envious of the monster campers that filled most of the campsite places.
To the left of the car you can see the bear proof rubbish bin and on the camp site we were provided with our own bear box to store food and toiletries, apparently bears like toothpaste, wet wipes and deodorant!
The photograph was taken three days into the holiday, but for the first 2 days the weather was balmy.
When it was light we discovered that you could walk through the trees and come to the road and the Happy Isles trail head. There was a mountain looming over the top of us and we took a footpath to its base. The side was sheer granite and we realised later that at the top is 'Glacier Point', one of Yosemite's iconic viewpoints over the valley. We could see the Half Dome and North Dome from the bottom. The side of Half Dome was ripped off by the glacier passing through the valley
The valley is the busiest area in Yosemite and has a oneway road system with buses that you can travel on for free. In season the buses go to the top of Glacier point and travel to more remote areas of the park, but in October they are confined to the valley floor.
No bus being apparent we drove to Yosemite village which was not at all what I was expecting, being a number of wooden buildings standing isolated amongst the trees. The national park owns and runs everything in Yosemite. We saw a coyote in the carpark and were entranced by the steller jays which were everywhere, but beautiful. The picture below is of the Ansel Adams gallery
After an early lunch we walked back to the 'Happy Isles' and took the trail to Mirror Lake and beyond, a nice circular walk. The shot to get of Mirror Lake shows the Half Dome reflected in the water, but the lake is dried up by autumn so just has a sandy bottom with rocks and trees round the edge. On the return the footpath runs underneath Aywiyah point on the side of Half Dome and we were encouraged to walk quickly through as it is a rock fall area.
We walked back to the camp to make dinner - pasta, we had a lot of pasta! I retrieved the tripod and we got out just in time to take a dusk shot across the meadow.