July 13-14 2009
random trip report
Our room (Sweetwater A) is nice, although the Bug seems to be having septic tank problems so the air is not so sweet. Noah is sprawled in the bottom bunk bed, taking a 3-hour nap. I walk down the Bug Loop trail to a waterfall and swimming hole (Hornet's Nest) and dunk myself. My left calf has not recovered from a week-old softball-related muscle pull, and is puffed up in a weird way. We cook our dinner in the well-equipped hostel kitchen,
We drive to Yosemite; it's quite a schlep, about an hour. Near El Portal, a gigantic rock slide has buried a section of highway 140. They've put up 2 temporary bridges and routed traffic to a segment of 1-lane road on the other side of the Merced river. It's unclear what the long-term solution is; the hill above the rock slide looks unstable.
We drive to the Camp 4 parking lot, and start up the Yosemite Falls trail at 11 AM, with Noah in the backpack. It's warm (80s) and Erica wilts a bit. Noah demands to get down and walk; he does pretty well on the rocky trail.
We grind to a halt around noon and have lunch. Erica graciously offers to take Noah back down and let me continue, as long as I'm down by 3:30. So at 12:30 I set off, at an earnest and unrelenting pace. My calf injury doesn't bother me. I pass the area where Munginella tops out. I'm feeling good, and reach the top at 2:00. I go down to the overlook and enjoy the spray.
Trail note: most of the trail has been paved with stones. I'm sure there are erosion-related reasons for this, but in my opinion they've taking it way too far; the variously sharp and slipper rocks are a pain the ass, especially on the descent.
At 2:15 I start down, at a pace that's just short of a run. I'm back at Camp 4 at precisely 3:30; Noah and Erica have just returned from a trip to the visitor center, where they saw some kind of movie. Noah is babbling about men climbing in waterfalls (based on a John Muir segment).
My bare shoulders have a curiously rough feel. Turns out they're coated with dried salt - each hair has a tiny crystal. I coerce Noah into licking it.
We continue on to Cathedral Beach, and go for a dip in the Merced. A stretch of the shore is cordoned off for restoration. Lots of people are ignoring this, which pisses me off, and I engage in a shouting match with one group.
Back at the Bug, we get dinner at the Cafe and I put a lot of salt on my food, and drink a lot of water. No cramps - in fact I feel pretty good. We hang out and play Trivial Pursuit while Noah arranges dominoes.
The Bug has a day spa and yoga classes, all for $10/day - what a deal! Also you can get a massage for $75/hour. With some persuading from me, Erica decides to hang out and do this while I take Noah into the valley again.
Our first stop is Bridalveil Falls; the sun is just peeking over the edge of the cliff, and the light is spectacular. Noah is keen on riding the shuttle bus again, so I park at Curry Village. I wistfully eye the Ledge Trail, recalling my hike there with Rob. I also gaze nostalgically on Half Dome and the Death Slabs.
Noah is bored after a short loop on the shuttle bus, so we have a leisurely lunch at the Curry Village food court; Noah concentrates on potato chips and strawberry yogurt.
I propose another waterfall hike, but Noah opts for more beach time. We park near El Cap bridge, and I swim while Noah plays in the sand. Then he sees some kind of scary face in the sand, and it's time to go. There's an 'ask a climber' setup, with a couple of telescopes trained on a group of climbers near the top of El Cap. I chat with the climber guy. Noah asks why we're only staying for 2 days; he says he'd prefer to stay much longer, and to see 'every single thing' in Yosemite.
We return to the Bug, where Erica is rested and refreshed. The drive back is pleasant, and we stop at an Olive Garden in Tracy, choosing to avoid the nearby Hometown Buffet.