10 July 2006 Monday

We have a dilemma this morning… we didn’t go to the ATM before entering the park and now we have very little cash.  These campgrounds have a self-registration, you chose a site, put money in an envelope and put the receipt stub on a post at your site.  So Andrew was told there’s a gas station just 20 minutes away with an ATM.  I stayed at our site and started breakfast while he drove down to get cash.  We still haven’t really decided whether we want to stay here again, but we need cash anyway.  Andrew was gone for over an hour and I was beginning to worry.  When he finally got back he had good news and bad news.  Good news: the gas station had ice and he got a bag for our cooler.  Bad news: the gas station didn’t have an ATM and the closest one was another 30 minutes from where he was, meaning he’d be gone over two hours if he had gone there.  So we packed all of our food back into the truck and headed into the Visitor’s Center in Yosemite Valley to find out what’s happening.  

Along the drive, we stopped at a few scenic vistas and overlooks and they were all packed with people.  We got to the Visitor’s Center, finally got a park newspaper and found out they have a free shuttle that services many locations in the valley.  We caught the shuttle and hiked the Mist Trail that leads up to the top of a Vernal Falls.  With all the activity in the day use parking area where we were near the Visitor’s Center, we weren’t too concerned about a bear getting into our truck during the day.  The Mist Trail took us to the top of Vernal Falls by way of steep stone steps that went thru the mist blowing off this enormous waterfall.  We were drenched by the time we got thru the misting area, but the trail continued up to a flatter shelf area at the top and we were drier by the time we got there. We hung out at the top, rested and took some pictures.  We wandered around the top and checked out  the waterfall above, Nevada Falls.  The Mist Trail went straight up, with a 1,000 ft elevation gave in 1.6 miles and our legs were tired.  When we felt rested, we headed back down a million stone steps, back thru the mist of the waterfall getting soaked again, and by the time we got back to the shuttle bus stop, we were mostly dry.  The shuttle took us back to our truck.

Most of the bear incidents have happened around the campgrounds where, I assume, people get careless with food.  There haven’t been grizzly bears in California since they were exterminated in the 1920’s, so these bears are black bears (although their color may be black, brown or blonde).  Black bears are usually quite shy and skittish around humans.  We have black bears in the Great Smokey Mountain National Park in Tennessee and don’t have the bear-people incidents they have here.  Bears, however, are opportunists and if the four million visitors in Yosemite are careless with food, the bears will accept the hand out.  Once the bears associate people with food and not fear, they become dangerous to humans and the bears are destroyed.  It’s not the bear’s fault, but people rate higher than bears (though I’ve seen a few people were I question this assessment).  

A ranger told us of an area called Hetch Hetchy, north part of the park, that was a more remote area of the park with less visitation.  We’d love to loose these crowds.  We headed just outside the park to find a campsite in the Stanislaus National Forest.  We found a spot, but we were still nervous about bears, especially since dinner was bacon wrapped steaks.  So we decided to make dinner in one location and then move on and sleep in another location.  

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