The rangers are always warning visitors to Yosemite about the bears in the area, but the only ones we saw were like this guy at McDonald's.
I remember years ago when I visited in my car and stayed in a cabin in Yosemite Valley, they emphasized that the bears will rip the doors off a car if they smell any food inside. I was so freaked out that I sprayed the inside of the car with Lysol. Then I wondered, "What if they like the smell of Lysol?"
For our second trip into Yosemite, we drove from our base south of the park, through the cute town of Mariposa and into Yosemite Valley by way of 140 following the Merced River. I feel this is a more beautiful and easier route than from the south.
Just west of El Portal and the entrance, we passed this rock slide which completely covered the road.
It seems the rock slide occurred in spring of '06. I guess this is a testament to the power of mother nature since it remains closed and two bridges and a section of road on the opposite side of the river were built to serve as a detour.
Here's the classic shot of Yosemite from valley level.
(I must confess that I actually took this picture on the way out later in the day. If I didn't admit it, somebody who is familiar with Yosemite would point out that the sun is in the wrong place.)
I had a whole list of things I wanted to do in this one day and I can't believe we actually did it all. AND we even stopped for lunch.
First up, Yosemite Falls, Upper and Lower. Wow! There was really a lot of water. I was there in the fall once when it was dry.
The Dogwood trees were gorgeous with giant flowers (I know they're not really flowers, but bracts, whatever). I swear they were four inches across.
Next we hiked up to the bridge below Vernal Fall. I didn't remember it being such a climb. Or how far away the waterfall is when you arrive. But I love the rushing water and the giant boulders.
And with all the water, I had to take the nice flat hike to Mirror Lake. On the way this Pileated Woodpecker was entertaining the hikers. I believe he was the inspiration for Woody Woodpecker. If not, he should have been.
Here's a much better shot that I stole off the internet. Isn't he something?
Mirror Lake was nice and full, although there was a little too much wind for a true mirror-like effect.
During my aforementioned fall trip, it was more like Mirror Puddle.
And Bridalveil Fall was just spectacular!
On the trail to the waterfall, a raincoat would have helped.
And finally, the required tourist photo.
We would have loved to stay in the park and spend days in this beautiful place, but all the campgrounds are booked solid - always. I understand if you get there at 8am and stand in line, you'll probably get a spot and I actually did that in a previous visit. But we didn't try this time. I love the shuttle buses that take you around. In fact I wish they picked you up at the entrance and cut out all the traffic except campers entering and leaving. I know people complain about the crowds in the popular national parks, but it's the cars that bother me. I want everyone to have the opportunity to experience these natural wonders.