Monday, October 10, 2011

Yosemite Part 2

Day 5:  Thursday Aug. 25
We did things a little different today.  Instead of going for coffee in Curry Village we went to Wawona and then caught the bus there to go visit the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees-  Sequoia trees!

The Grizzly Giant - one of the biggest specimens in the grove

This tree is called the Faithful Couple.  The two grew together at the trunks.

You can get a perspective of the size of these trees with us standing in the trunk
This was the one famouse for having a hole in its trunk which cars could pass through.  It fell down a few years ago though.  

Wawona Point at the top of the grove.  This was the day the big forest fire started.  A motorhome engine caught on fire and the propane tanks blew up.  You can see in the background the smoke.  5231 acres burned and Hwy 140 was closed for five days.  Thankfully nobody was hurt.  
After a great time at the Marioposa Trees, we went to Yosemite Valley for dinner:  hamburgers at Yosemite Village.  Gabriel begged to go back because the first day we went they were just so good!  I went for the salmon burger this time which was very good too! 
Total Miles for the day:  6.2 

Day 6: Friday Aug. 26
The top of Upper Yosemite Falls was our destination today.  It was a hot clear day and we started our hike in the late morning.  The first part is switchbacks up through the trees and then you cut across and come across the view of Upper Yosemite Falls.
On the trail with Sentinel in the background

Upper Yosemite Falls

I think this picture shows the most strenuous part of the hike well.  Steep switchbacks in the direct sun.  Wonderful views though, if you could take the time to take your eyes off all the stone steps.

At the top!!

The rivers weren´t flowing so strongly as early in the summer so we swam in the pools above the waterfall.  Very cold water but oh so refreshing!

And what do you know, the hike back down was in the shade!
Total Mileage for the day:  6.8
Then off to our apartment to wash up and get ready for our big date night:  dinner at the Ahwahnee!  
Looking good in the entrance to the Hall

Because we had mentioned we were on our honeymoon they seated us in a more secluded area  in the front part of the dining room.  

Best steak I´ve ever eaten in my life, hands down.  Gabriel was wondering why he ordered the chicken after I let him try a bite of mine!  

We were pretty full but this red velvet cake was so delicious!

It was so big and rich we had to leave some otherwise we would have made ourselves sick :) 
Day 7:  Saturday Aug. 27
Thanks to a random couple we met at the top of Glacier Point/4 Mile Trail we took their suggestion of hiking Cloud´s Rest.  Since we had already done the hike up from Happy Isles we decided to approach the summit from Tenaya Lake in Tuolumne Meadows, plus Gabriel would see that area then.  We left early, 6am so that we could start hiking at a descent time.

 It was a wonderful day to hike, we left the summer in the valley and enjoyed the cool temps and wild flowers of the spring up in the meadow!  

Once you get to the summit, the views are endless, it´s higher than Half Dome.  There is soooo much granite!

You can see where we came from:  Tenaya Lake, 7 miles away
 Total Milage:  14 miles
Dinner:  Pizza and beer- getting back all those carbs we burned!

Day 8:  Sunday, Aug. 28
Sunday morning we went to the 11am worship service in the Presbyterian church located in the Valley.  A few other visitors were there among a handful of members.  Afterwards we went to the river over by Yosemite Village and had a picnic.  Then we went for a cold swim!

Early afternoon we went over to Camp 4 to check out the famous boulder problem, Midnight Lightning

No can do.  So we wandered around trying other boulders but then the mosquitos starting attacking us again so we decided to head back to base and get things ready to leave for Spain the next morning.  On the way out though we saw Bridal Veil Falls and decided it was the only waterfall in the Valley that we hadn´t visited... so we scrambled up to the base

The rainbow was actually a full circle and I don´t know if you can tell, but I´m soaking wet from all the spray!  Great way to end our time in the Valley!

Day 9:  Monday, Aug. 29
Unfortunately we had lost our flight information (that goes back to the first day, when I was sick and it must of all fallen out of my pocket) and I didn´t have an email confirmation with the number so, as much as we had tried (with no phone coverage) we couldn´t confirm our departure flight from Fresno to LA.  So, we left early, 5am, to arrive with time to catch either the 9am flight or the 12pm flight.  Unfortunately it was the later one so we had a nice american breakfast and bought a movie at a gift shop and watched it on my labtop. .. that was a good time killer.  Once we got into LA we had a direct flight to Madrid.  We took the metro from the airport to the train station in Madrid where we caught a train to Valdepeñas.

A great trip!!  Thanks again to all who made it possible!  We had a blast and can´t wait to go back:)


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

YOSEMITE (the first part)

L to R:  Half Dome, Cloud´s Rest, Vernal Fall, Little Yosemite Valley, Nevada Fall-  Taken from Glacier Pt. Panorama Trail

Thanks so much to everyone who contributed to allow us to spend a wonderful 7 days in Yosemite for our honeymoon!!  We wanted to show you pictures and tell you our adventures during our stay there.  Here goes:

DAY 1:  Sunday, Aug. 21

The first day of being happily married we woke up to this wonderful view from our hotel room on the 16th floor of the Westin, Gaslamp Quarter San Diego!  We took the shuttle bus to the airport to catch our flight to LA at 10:30am.  We hadn´t had time to eat breakfast in the hotel since we spent our time trying to fit all our stuff into four suitcases :)  so we were forced to grab something in the commuter terminal and since we were famished we opted for the breakfast burrito instead of a muffin (options were limited here).  Bad choice since the eggs were those fake kind they make in the microwave:(

Once in LA we had about 2 hours until our next flight to Fresno and while waiting those fake eggs finally got to me.  And I spent the rest of the day making many trips to the bathroom and having Gabriel pull off to the side of the rode several times for me to throw up.  Yuck.  Longest 2 hour drive from Fresno to Yosemite ever!  But when we finally arrived and drove out from the tunnel to the lookout point of Yosemite Valley, to see Gabriel´s expression and excitement was priceless.

We checked into our hotel room at the Ahwahnee and checked out the big room with the fireplaces . . .

. . . went to the bar so that Gabriel could have dinner and I could have a tea . . .

. . . then off to bed to start the next day off well (Thankfully stomach viruses are only a 24hr. thing).

DAY 2:  Monday Aug. 22
The next day we had a big breakfast in the Curry Village coffee shop.  We ended up going here every morning for coffee the rest of the week.  After getting our fill I was able to get my forces back and we ventured to the mountain shop to buy ourselves a hiking guide book and a nice map.  Now we were armed and ready to begin our adventures. We decided to go back to the Ahwahnee and see the place in the daylight.  Beautiful.

After this we were excited to do a small hike and decided on the Mirror Lake Trail.  We got some good views of Half Dome (not in the lake:) and realized we would need to buy bug spray because if not, the mosquitoes were going to eat us alive!

Half Dome

Reflection of North Dome (not Half Dome) in Mirror Lake (or pond)
We hiked 3.8 miles total and then we headed over to Yosemite village for a delicious hamburger and shopping for essencials at the store. We bought things to make breakfast every morning and also a pack lunch everyday.  Then off to find our lodging for the next 6 days.  It was a small one room apartment with kitchenette and fireplace (although not necessary) located about a 20 min. drive outside of the Valley.  Sorry we took no pictures but we do have this one of a visitor we had outside our balcony two days in a row:

DAY 3: Tuesday Aug. 23
Today we woke up with lots of ambition:  Plan A- hike from Happy Isles to Glacier Point (via Vernal and Nevada Falls) to the Valley  Plan B- do the same but cut out the hike down from Glacier Point and take the bus (this was if we found ourselves too tired).  The total milage being 9.2 plus 4 if we chose not to take the bus.  13.2 miles.  It was a great hike! 
First we came to Vernal Falls- one of the two (the other being Bridalveil) waterfalls that has a true vertical drop.  That means it doesn´t hit any rockface on the way down.  

Vernal Fall with rainbow

About another 3miles up the trail is Nevada Fall.

Gabriel trying to get close to Nevada for a good picture-  watch out the granite is slick here in Yosemite!
On the bridge above Nevada Falls

Half Dome behind us- the side you don´t usually see:)

Excellent views of the valley, Yosemite Falls in the distance

Illilouette Fall with Half Dome in the background- getting closer to Glacier Point

We encountered this lovely bird on the trail.  When we went to take a picture of it  it seemed attracted to the noice the camera made and started to come towards.  We just keep taking pics until it was a few feet away and hopped up on this rock to look at us!  We referred to it as a wild chicken- does anyone know what it really is??

We finally made it to Glacier Pt. and we were exhausted.  We had decided to take the bus but upon arriving we discovered we had missed the last one by an hour.  So. . . we stretched, drank some water, took off our shoes for awhile, ate some snacks and off we went down the Four Mile Trail which would bring us to the Valley floor.  It´s really a beautiful trail: on the edge of the cliff, steep switchbacks, spectacular views.

Needless to say, we were pooped when we got to the bottom of the trail (it didn´t help that the last mile we had to be constantly waving our hands frantically in front of our faces to the hoards of mosquitos away).  It was late and we weren´t sure when the shuttle buses stopped running.  We had to get to our car in Curry Village.  A group of bikers were passing by as we stood on the road at the bus stop, they said there were no more buses- 2.5 more miles to walk!  But we Valley floor has some beautiful pathways and we saw this great sunset (my camara doesn´t do it justice).  

We arrived to Curry Village exhausted and hardly able to walk anymore!  We scoured down another excellent hamburger and fries and then headed to our apartment to wash up and rest.
Total milage for the day:  16.2 miles

Day 4: Wednesday Aug. 24
Today we had two things planned:  climb and eat dinner in the Mountain Room at Yosemite Lodge.  And that is what we did.  We went for our usual coffee in the morning in Curry Village and then we hung around there until 12pm when we were to meet up with our "climbing guide" in Camp 4.  Here I have to explain some things:  Most climbing in Spain is sport climbing which consists of using quick draws to go up a route that already has been bolted for you.  In the U.S. and in Yosemite it is traditional climbing which consists of you using gear that you have (nuts, bolts, cams) which you place in  the holes or cracks in the rock.  Gabriel and I don´t have this gear nor are we apt at placing it so we were going to be visiting the "climbing mecca" and were planning on not climbing.  Buuut, my brother Phil and his then girlfriend/now fiancé Tricia gave us as our wedding gift a day of climbing.  Phil´s friend Brandon spends his summers climbing in Yosemite and he agreed to take us on a climb!  It was definitely the icing on the cake for us, Thanks Phil, Tricia, and Brandon!!
Route:  Nutcracker (5.8)

Avg time to climb route: 2-4 hours
Approach time: 5 minutes
Descent time: 25 minutes
Number of pitches: 
Height of route: 600'
Nutcracker is a classic due to its interesting history, very easy approach, and five great pitches of perfect Yosemite granite. While climbing the route one will encounter liebacking, hand jamming, finger jamming, delicate smearing and an exposed mantle crux. 

Belaying on the first pitch

Brandon and I belaying Gabriel up the first pitch
Here comes Gabriel!

Top of 2nd pitch

Brandon and Gabriel on top of the 2nd pitch, we were standing on a nice big flat rock
Amy going up

Brandon placing gear on the 3rd pitch

The next two pitches you´ll just have to imagine because we were having too much fun to take any more :) Here we are at the top:

We went out to the Mountain Room for dinner which was lots of fun and very delicious!!  Gabriel had steak and I had chicken: