If I had a jet pack like Buzz Lightyear, I probably would have used it if I had known how crazy hard the hike was going to be! It’s probably better I didn’t know ahead of time. Well … are you wondering if I made it out the other side? Did I make it to the top of Half Dome? The answers shall soon be seen.
On the morning of meeting my hiking group which was through the Yosemite Conservancy, I drove into Lower Yosemite Valley. Upon entering the valley, I pulled over and was greeted by the Stone Gatekeeper who stood in the middle of the stream. He called himself George.
I asked him if it was okay for me to take a close-up photo for my friends and family. Although he wasn’t too enamoured of the idea, he did agree to the portrait.
After George’s photo shoot, his friend, Butterfly, showed up at the water’s edge asking politely, “May I also be in the story?” Of course, I agreed because how can my story to Yosemite that has Unicorns not also contain Butterflies.
Once I earned George’s permission to head into the Valley of Yosemite, I thanked him and Butterfly and was awe struck as I turned the curve in my car where the view opened into a waving grass, yellow wildflower covered valley floor surrounded by enormous mountain ranges, whose names I would soon become more familiar with (and if you continue to read on…. so will you)
The Valley Floor of Yosemite is around 3800 feet in elevation … me in the photo, at 3800 feet, oh so unaware of the hike ahead of me! Me, blissed out in the yellow dazzling wildflowers, thanking God that it isn’t Dorthoy’s field of poppies in Wizard of Oz or I would never have completed my adventure … and aside from some ground squirrels around me, I didn’t see any Flying Monkeys either.
I spun around in a circle to take in the view of the surrounding mountain ranges rising up around me….
The glow of shimmering lemon yellow wildflowers pushing up from the valley floor …
The first mountain to catch my eye was El Capitan, Rock Chief, rising 3000 feet from the valley floor. He is made almost completely of granite and is a favorite mountain for rock climbers and base jumpers to scale.
The next peak to catch my attention from the valley floor was Sentinel Rock reaching up towards the sky to reach an elevation of 7000 feet
Once inside the main camps for Yosemite, I headed over to find my first night’s camping space. The Rangers showed me to Space 44 in the Upper Pines Curry Village campground. I was the first one in our group to arrive, so what’s new there right? I set up my tent at noon so I would have the rest of the day to explore Yosemite. I think I did a fine job of pitching and staking my tent, rain fly and all.
One of the most important pieces of information I learned from the Rangers was BEAR BOXES, BEAR BOXES, BEAR BOXES. All food must be stored in these bear boxes at all times except when you are actually going to be consuming your food.
We were even required to sign a waiver and form saying we understood the dangers of leaving our food out … and what I learned is it isn’t just food … ALL scented products like toothpaste, deodorant, lotion, hair products, bug spray, sunscreen … anything with a strong scent is attractive to a bear … which brings me to a question of what prevents a bear from attacking me in the middle of the night in my tent if I have shampooed hair, deodorized underarms with skin slathered in sunscreen and lips covered in lip balm all covered by bug spray … shouldn’t I, too, be stuffed inside the bear box???