It’s Sunday morning. I got up at about 6:30am thinking I’d get the jump on the showers… no such luck… there was already a line!! Anyway, I got through the shower, broke camp and repacked my bike. The KOA office opened… I grabbed a coffee and then headed off to Yosemite.
The road to the park was nice and curvy. It also started to run alongside the Merced River. The river was flowing pretty quickly and high. I am going to guess it was from the snow melt. Periodically, some rafters would float by. At one point there is a bridge that is one lane only. On each end of the bridge is a stop light… I happened to catch it while it was red. So, I got off the bike and watched the rafters paddle by until it was my side of the bridge’s turn to cross.
As I drove through El Portal, I started noticing that there were a lot of butterflies. The further up the road the more the butterflies. Wow! It must have been hatching season. What was weird about it was they were hanging out on the pavement. Maybe it was the heat coming off the pavement? Anyway, there were people on the side of the road holding up signs “Slow down butterflies ahead” and “Speed kills”. I couldn’t help but giggle to myself that there were adults on the side of the road with signs trying to save the butterflies. I am not callous and I love wildlife but there were so many butterflies no matter how fast you were driving you were going to run into them. I had to duck down behind my windshield to avoid being hit in the face! My faring looked like a butterfly massacre occurred and my black jeans had yellow butterfly goo all over them. Finally, I got through the butterflies and headed up to the Arch Rock entrance.
I have been to Yosemite many times. So, I decided to avoid the Village because holidays get really packed with tourists and sometimes the village is closed due to too many people. As a general rule, I tend to avoid large crowds whenever possible. I headed straight toward Glacier Point via the Wawona Tunnel.
I stopped at the aptly named Inspiration Point which is just before the Wawona Tunnel. Despite the amount of people there, I was able to sit on the wall and look over Yosemite Valley. The view of Half Dome and El Capitan towering over the Valley and Bridalveil Falls going fast and strong all 620ft down the canyon wall from the heavy snowmelt was just breathtaking. I have stopped here many times and I am never anything less than amazed. There has to be an Ansel Adams photo or ten of this so beautiful it’s sublime vista!
Just beyond the parking lot of Inspiration Point is the Wawona Tunnel. The tunnel is super cool. There is a very small sidewalk on the right side. I discovered the sidewalk on my last visit, so, camera in hand I walked down into the depths of the tunnel and started taking pictures. One thing I like about the tunnel is the smell. It’s heavy and dank. You can feel the moisture in the air and you can see the water slowly dripping down the rock walls. I stayed in the tunnel for about ten minutes taking pictures.
From Inspiration Point to Glacier Point is roughly 30 miles…plan on almost an hour to get there. The road is narrow, curvy and on holiday weekends filled with slow driving tourists. The turn off to Glacier is at Chinquapin 15 miles of driving through trees and yep… Some snow!
The drive to Glacier from Chinquapin is high country driving at it’s best! I stopped at Washburn Point…named after the brothers who originally owned the Wawona Hotel. The view is SPECTACULAR! Half Dome and the Sierras! There is also a great view of Vernal and Nevada Falls. I had never drove to or visited Glacier Point. I was beginning to get excited about what was to come. I walked around for awhile and just took in the view, the cold crisp air and took some pictures.
I also marvelled at people’s complete lack of respect for signage. There was a sign that said “stay off we’re trying to grow grass here” or something like that and nobody paid attention. The treehugger in me was very annoyed by lack of respect.
The last half mile or so to Glacier Point’s parking lot was brutal. Downhill switchbacks, tourists trying to park anywhere along the side of the road and a very tired brake hand. I have to admit I did not follow my advice below. I watched down the switchbacks and when a car wasn’t leaving the lot and coming up the hill…. I passed a long line of cars. I was lucky I did not get caught. I rationalized that my hurting brake hand, stopped traffic and being pointed downhill was worth the risk but the reality is that it would not have been worth $400 if I had gotten caught.
I parked the bike, grabbed the camera and walked over to Glacier Point. I just really have no words… cliches… Amazing, beautiful, breathtaking, etc etc etc… But they just wouldn’t do it justice.
Glacier Point has a small snack stand and gift shop. I grabbed a turkey pesto pita sandwich and an iced coffee. I went back out and sat on the wall. I put my iPod on and listened to Robbie Robertson’s Music for the Native Americans. This cd is a great compilation of Robbie’s original music as well as some great Native American singers. I pretended no one was around, ate my lunch and enjoyed looking at Mother Nature’s handywork.
Unfortunately, it was getting late and I still had to drive the hour back to the Tioga Pass turnoff, through Tuolomne Meadows and then over the pass to Lee Vining.
NOTE: When you are in the park you are on federal property. If you get a ticket…it is expensive and you have to take care of it in the park or by mail. Resist the urge. Don’t speed or pass! Not only will you save money…you might save a bear!