Monday, July 28, 2008

Visiting Yosemite and Mt. Whitney

We decided to leave the Bay Area a little earlier than planned before our trip to climb Mt. Whitney. We left Berkeley Saturday afternoon after WaMu placed a hold on our money in the bank (which we transferred from Chicago to Cali)! Stupid WaMu! With no money to withdraw to pay first month's rent and a security deposit, we couldn't move in anywhere. The hold was placed until this Wednesday, so we decided not to stick around while the money was transferring.

We drove east towards the Sierra Nevada mountains on Hwy 120 into Yosemite National Park. The mountains were hazy, and we saw a huge column of smoke billowing up one mountain side just before we entered the park. You could see the blaze of the fire from where we took the picture; it must have been 50ft high flames. The smoke covered most of Yosemite with a haze. But the park was open, so we decided to go.

Wildfire Outside Yosemite
Wildfire near Mariposa, California

We camped out in the Stanislaus National Forest right before the park entrance, since it was getting late. I was freaked out that a black bear was going to smell the food we wanted to eat for dinner (a can of chilli) so I decided not to cook. Instead we drank beer. We had a liquid dinner that night. The night was so quiet. There was not a single animal noise in the forest. I think all of the animals fled because of the fires in the area. The next morning, the bus was all covered in a light sprinkle of ash!

Camping Out in the Bus
Camping out in the Stanislaus National Forest

We got coffee, and the people at the gas station said that the fire was still burning, but the park was still open. So we entered the park Sunday morning. We drove along the valley floor, stopped at the visitor center, and went to see the Maripose Giant Sequoia Grove. It was hot, hazy, but beautiful! As the sun's angle decreased the smoke seemed to get hazier and it was getting difficult to see even the giant granite cliffs around us in the valley! By evening, we went back out of the park to our same camping spot.

Yosemite Valley
Yosemite Valley shrouded in fog

Yosemite Valley
Yosemite Valley

Yosemite Valley
Granite walls in Yosemite Valley

More Sequoias
Giant sequoias

California Tunnel Tree
Romy under the California Tunnel Tree in Maripose Grove

The next morning (which is today) the smoke seemed to get a little cleared up, but the lady at the gas station (where we got coffee again) said the fire was still not contained! What a crazy fire! It left ash on the bus again too. Today we drove through the park from west to east on Hwy 120. We stopped for a stroll on the granite domes, where we saw an awesome view of the Yosemite valley from above. We also swam at Tenaya Lake (which was actually kinda warm) and had lunch there on the beach. We continued to drive east and out of the park. We picked up two rock climbers which were hitch hiking from the climbing spot to their campground. They were nice, and invited us to join them at their campsite for free, but we had to move on.

Tenaya Lake
Tenaya Lake

Jenn & Bus
Jenn, the Bus, and smoke in the Yosemite Valley

Fire in the Sky
The sun shines through smokey skies

As we exited the park, into the Inyo National Forest,we drove out of the 10,000ft Sierra Nevadas and into the valley between the Sierra Nevadas and the White mountain range, north of Death Valley. What a beautiful valley! The Sierra Nevadas were on the right side, and getting higher and higher and higher, eventually up to Mt. Whitney, which is 14,494ft high! Thats the highest peak in the 48 states!

We are currently in Bishop, California getting internet at a gas station for free! We're gonna go eat dinner soon, and tomorrow we're meeting up with Courtney. She's joining us on our climb/hike up Mt. Whitney. We had to apply for a permit back in April, because they only let 100 people on the mountain per day. The permits "sell out" quickly, and we were lucky to get one!

I will put more pictures up on our Flickr site when I have a better signal: