October 29 – 31, 2014: Upon entering Yosemite around noon we headed straight for the road leading to Glacier Point and arrived at the trailhead for Sentinel Dome by 1pm.
We started with the 1.1 mile one-way trail to Taft Point for our first look at the vast expanse and terrain of Yosemite National Park. The short hike took us past fissures (cracks in the rock formed over time) out on the rocky cliff edge. It’s a bit frightening for those of us scared of heights (yes, me).
We then hiked the 1.1 mile one-way trail to Sentinel Dome. This hike took us to the top of the dome shaped mountain (Sentinel Dome) where we had great views of Half Dome and other famous peaks. A picture is worth a thousand words.
Instead of returning to the trailhead and driving the two miles to Glacier Point we decided to continue the hike. Upon reaching the Glacier Point viewpoint, we found ourselves confronted with a view very similar to that from Sentinel Dome but, since Glacier Point is a traditional accessible viewpoint, there was quite a lot of people. Also, although Glacier Point is closer to Half Dome, there isn’t a 360 degree view so you’re unable to view El Capitan. The lack of people, 360 degree view, and the sense of accomplishment from climbing Sentinel Dome definitely beat out Glacier Point.
So, we decided to hike back up Sentinel Dome to view the sunset on our return trek to Camper Dan. The colors cast on the mountains made for the prettiest views of the mountains all day.
In all, we logged 7.7 miles that first day.
The second day in Yosemite we checked out the Mariposa Sequoia Grove. Sequoias are beautiful big giants – wider and slightly shorter than redwood trees. We hiked both the lower and upper grove to view the various famed trees. This included the Grizzly Giant (largest), the California Tunnel Tree (large opening at the base), the Faithful Couple (single base with two trees towards the top), and the Clothespin Tree (you guessed it, looks like a clothespin with a v-shaped cutout at the base).
We then drove into Yosemite Valley, with stops at the Tunnel View viewpoint and Bridal Veil Falls (it was only a trickle). Within the valley village we visited viewpoints for Half Dome and El Capitan. Both provided a different and striking view compared to what we saw the previous day.
Our campground for the evening was in Yosemite Valley at the Upper Pines Campground. Our particular site backed up to an open field where we had a fantastic close-up view of Half Dome. We took advantage of our location and, for the first time on this road trip, grilled burgers and roasted s’mores. What a great location for this first cook-out!
Unfortunately, the weather was taking a turn for the worse and, in order to avoid snow, we headed out of Yosemite after two nights. This meant we had to skip the drive up Tioga Road but better safe than sorry. Nonetheless, I’d give our Yosemite experience a thumbs up.