Yosemite includes five of the world's highest waterfalls, granite domes and walls, deeply incised valleys, three groves of giant sequoia, alpine meadows, and lakes.

Sunday, March 9, 2014


A raccoon hiding under the Curry Village pavilion. Oct. 26.

While I went inside the Ahwanee to get hot cocoa, Elwin sat on the back porch and a visited by a passing bobcat. Nov. 9, 2013

Mule Deer in Yosemite Valley

Sept 29, 2013. They tussled very gently then just stopped and walked off.

Following picture taken Oct. 25, 2013 on the north east side of the Ahwanee cabins.

Mule versus white tail deer:

The antlers branch off forming "y"s. Therefore, this is a mule deer. The points on the antlers of a white tail deer come from one of the two beams, like the tines on a garden rake.


The number of antler points is not a good indication of age; even a yearly can have 10 points.

As the deer ages, the nose gets longer, the back and stomach sway, the stomach increases to become as large as the brisket, the neck is thicker, the base of the antlers increases to extend past the ears and past the eyes to the nose (about 20" in both length and width), the legs appear more sturdy, and eyes appear less round.

The number of teeth increases from four to five and milk teeth are replaced by permanent teeth.

Oct. 25, 2013 Doe and fawn

Nov. 8-9. 2013

When the tail is lifted, it looks like a black tipped rope, thus it is a mule fawn. The underside of the tip of a white tail deer is white.

A mule deer also reveals his identity when he bounces around, like on a pogo stick instead of having the loping gait of a white tail deer.

All of a sudden, the group switched from grazing to playing bounce around the roses, then they bounced away.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

When to Visit Yosemite



Average Temperature & Precipitation
Tioga Rdand Glacier Point Usually Open
Mist Trail Usually Open
Rivers and Waterfalls
Mule Deer
Also see Animals in Yosemite
January 29-48 F
6.5 inches
Low Winter coat
February 30-52 F
6.7 inches
Low. Horsetail Falls appear to be on fire mid to late February Winter coat
March 34-58 F
5.2 inches
Low Winter coat
April 38-64 F
2.8 inches
Yes Beginning to peak Mid April dogwood begins to bloom Winter coat
May 45-72 F
1.7 inches
Maybe Yes Peak Redwood and dogwood tend to bloom. Winter coat
June 27-81 F
.7 inches
Maybe Yes Peak Blooming in the Valley occurs Summer coat
July 57-89 F
.4 inches
Yes Yes Low Blooming begins in Tuolomne Meadows Summer coat
Fawns born
August 56-89 F
.1 inches
Yes Yes Low Antler growth complete
Summer coat
Fawns born
September 51-82 F
.7 inces
Yes Yes Low Summer coat
October 42-71 F
2.1 inches
Maybe Yes Low Fall colors usually begin around late October Summer coat
November 33-56 F
4.6 inches
Maybe Yes Low Winter coat
December 28-47 F
5.5 inches
Low Winter coat

Friday, February 21, 2014

Gentle Walks


Yosemite Valley

Happy Isles to Vernal Falls 1M
1.6 miles. 400' elevation change

Mirror Lake 1M
2 miles. 100' elevation change.

Lower Yosemite Falls 1L
.6 miles. minimal elevation change.

Bridalveil Falls 1L
.5 miles. 0' elevation change.

Glacier Point Area

Glacier Point 1L
.5 miles. minimal elevation change.
From the parking lot, walk to the railing to looked down at the valley and east toward Half Dome and the High Sierra.

McGurk Meadow 1M
1.6 miles round trip. 150' elevation change.
The trail leads down to the meadow and cabin (.8 miles). You can continue for another mile to Pohono Trail.

Taft Point & The Fissures 1M
2.2 miles round trip. 250' elevation gain.
Begin at the Sentinel Dome / Taft Point Trailhead. Walk though the meadow to the Taft Railing to look at Yosemite Valley, El Capitan, and Yosemite Falls. The fissures, near Taft Point, are fractures in the granite with drops up to 2,000'.

Sentinel Dome 1M
2.2 miles. 400' elevation gain.
Begin at the Sentinel Dome / Taft Point Trailhead. Walk across granite then an old road to the north side of the dome. Climb up the granite dome for a 360 degree view of the park.

Tioga Pass Shuttle Stop Trails

#2 Lyell Fork 1M
8 miles. 200' elevation gain.
Begin across the street from Dog Lake parking area. This trail follows the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River through the Lyell Canyon. The trail can be muddy and crosses bridged (e.g., Rafferty Creek) and unbridged (e.g., Ireland Creek) creeks. Near te 8 mile mark, Kuna Creek cascades down the east canyon wall.
For a shorter walk, walk 1/2 hour each way to the Lyell Fork and Twin Bridges.

#4 Soda Springs and Parsons Lodge 1M
1.5 miles round trip. About 1 hour.
Begin at the Lembert Dome parking are and follow the gravel road past the locked gates (Glen Aulin and Soda Springs sign). A path below past the bridge below the lodge continues to the Tuolumne Visitor Center (Shuttle Stop 6).

#8 Pothole Dome 1M
1 mile. 200' elevation gain.

#9 Tenya Lake
3 miles

#11 May Lake 1M
2.5 miles. 500' elevation gain.

#12 Olmstead
.6 miles. 300' elevation gain.

Other Tioga Road

Tuolumne Grove 1M
2.0 miles 480' elevation change.

Olmstead Point Nature Trail 1M
.6 miles. 300' elevation change.

Tenaya Lake 1L
3,0 miles. 0 elevation change.

Tuolumne Meadows

Lambert Dome 1M
3.1 miles. 500' elevation change.

Soda Springs 1L
1.2 miles. 40' elevation change.

Lyell Fork 1L
1.2 miles 60' elevation change.

Crane Flat and White Wolf

Luken Lake from Tioga Road 1M
1.6 miles. 200' elevation change.
The Lukens Lake Trailhead is two miles east of White Wolf Road. The trail passes through an evergreen forest the goes to a lake and meadow. It may be muddy until August.

Tuolumne Grove and Nature Trail 1M
2.5 miles round trip. 500' elevation gain on return trip.
Begin at the Tuolumne Grove parking lot at Crane Flat. The trail goes through a sequoia grove.

Wawona Area

Wawona Meadow Loop 1M
3.5 miles. 100' elevation change.
Begin at the Wawona hotel and walk on the paved oaf cross the golf course. Turn left at the sign. The trail is n unsaved fire road that gores around the meadow, offering views of Wawona Basin, wildlife, and wild flowers.

Swinging Bridge Loop

Yosemite Gentle Walks

4.75 miles from Pioneer History Center or
1 mile from the end of Forest Drive
Most of the tail is along roads.

Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias 1 M
(Grizzly Giant and California Tunnel Trees Trail)
1.6 miles round trip. 100- 400' elevation gain
The grove contains multiple trails. To reach the Grizzly Giant and California Tunnel trees, follow the tail from the far end of the parking area

Chailnualna Falls1M
.4 miles. 100' elevation change.

Hetch Hetchy

Wapama Falls 1M
5 miles round trip. 200' elevation change.
Follows the reservoir horse line with views of Tueeulala and Wapama Falls. To begin te trail. cross the damn and go through the tunnel.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Night Life

We never have a campfire so at night we relax in the park lounges.

The Ahwahnee Hotel is an upscale site for reading and quiet visiting. The bar had hot cocoa $4.00, chili $9.50, etc.

The Curry Village lodge room has the camping crowd and the sound level has the low level din of a college lounge. Pizza and other food is available.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Overview of Our Four Favorite Trails

The valley floor contains numerous gentle walks that can be combined into longer walks or taken in short segments, going from one shuttle stop to another. The following are our favorite walks. They range from about three to five miles. We take a lot of pictures, so these are full day walks for us and we like to take sandwiches from the Degan Deli. I think the average walking speed is about three miles an hour. Carry sufficient water; not all picnic sites with restrooms have drinking water.

The Happy Isles to Vernal Falls hike is not listed below. However, it is one of the most popular hikes. Although it is a steady climb, it is considered an easy hike because it is only 1.6 miles with an ascent of 400 feet.

(1) Bike path from Ahwahnee Hotel Shuttle Stop 3 to Mirror Lake to Shuttle Stop 17. This trail crosses the Ahwahnee, Sugarpine, and Tenaya Bridges, and goes past Backpackers Campground. Mirror Lake/Meadow is a seasonal pond in which families play. That part of the trail is at the foot of Half Dome.

On March 28, 2009, a very large rockfall occurred from Ahwiyah Point near Half Dome. Rocks fell roughly 1800 feet, knocking down hundreds of trees and burying hundreds of feet of trail on the southern portion of the Mirror Lake Trail that looped around the lake. The impact resulted in ground shaking equal to a 2.4 earthquake. Numerous smaller rockfalls are continuing and the southern portion of the trail is closed.

There is a hiking trail on the left side of the bike trail and on the other side of Tenaya Creek. The Ahwahnee Hotel concierge said that we would prefer the bike trail. She was correct. The first pictures below are of the not recommended trails. The next ones of the recommended trail.

  • From the Ahwahnee Hotel, walk through the Ahwahnee Meadow
  • Cross the Ahawahnee Bridge
  • Cross the Sugarpine Bridge
  • Follow the bike trail past Backpacker's Campground
  • Continue past the restrooms to Mirror Lake/Meadow
  • Complete the loop with the information displays
  • Return to the restrooms as the beginning of the trail
  • Stay on the asphalt road and cross the Tenaya Creek Bridge
  • Stop at Shuttle Stop 1

    (2) Shuttle Stop 18 to Happy Isles, Fen, Camp Curry
    This hike is about 2.6 miles

  • Hiking path from Shuttle Stop 18 (by the stables) along the Merced River
  • Under the Happy Isles Bridge to the river view then back under the bridge
  • Cross the Happy Isles Bridge
  • Cross the two bridges to Happy Isles, walk to the end, then return
  • Walk through the Fen
  • Continue to Curry Village
  • Cross the street and follow the path back, past Lower Pines Campground to Shuttle Stop 18 (by the stables)

    Do not return to Shuttle Stop 18 by the trail in the other side of the river, across the street from Happy Isles. It is a horse trail. We were caught in a snow/rain storm and had to ford the Clark Creek by crawling on our hands and knees across logs.

    (3) A "bridge" route that makes a figure 8 through the middle of the valley and that uses hiking and bike paths.
  • LeConte Memorial Shuttle Stop 12
  • Cross the street, walk along the river past Housekeeping Camp
  • Cross the bridge
  • Continue to Day Parking Shuttle Stop 1
  • Continue to the Sentinel Bridge Shuttle Stop 11
  • Follow the bike path along Sentinel Meadow and past the Chapel
  • Continue to follow the bike path over the Swinging Bridge
  • After the bike path crosses the bridge, it continues to Camp 4. Instead of going to Camp 4, follow the hiking path along the Merced River then turn to the Yosemite Lodge (Maple Building), Shuttle Stop 8
  • Continue to Yosemite Falls, follow the path up to Falls to the base of Lower Falls then to the Fall view
  • At Shuttle Stop 6, cross the street and follow the path across the meadow to the little bridge (instead of returning to Sentinel Bridge)
  • Follow the trail back to Le Conte Memorial Lodge Shuttle Stop 12
  • Continue to Curry Village Shuttle Stop 13

    (4) From Camp 4 walk along the Merced River, across El Capitan Bridge to Cathedral Beach. Camp 4 is where many of the rock climbers camp, practice walking on tight ropes, etc. During the walk, look for rock climbers on El Capitan, they look like shiny, tiny dots. There is no drinking water at Cathedral Beach! We had assumed that there would be water and ended up panhandling water from other picnickers. There was a large fallen tree across the path that we had to climb over. During the summer, Cathedral Beach is one of the shuttle stops.

    Walk through Camp 4
    Cross the street
    Follow the trail towards El Capitan and Bridalveil Falls

    Rock climbers on El Capitan. From the ground, they look like tiny, shiny dots.