Day 10-13: June 12-15, In Yosemite

I woke Saturday morning, struck my tent, and joined the line to register for the Sunnyside campground at 7:30. By 9:30 I had a space for the week, at $3 per night. I pitched my tent and went off to explore.

Over the next few days, I went on a couple of day hikes: one up the Mist Trail to Vernal Falls, and one to Upper Yosemite Falls. My knee was OK until I was descending, and the bike shoes worked pretty well except for a tendency for the cleats to skid on the granite.

Me at Vernal Falls

River downstream from Vernal Falls

Yellowstone Falls

Vernal Falls from above

All the campgrounds here are full, and, especially on the weekends, there are lots of cars in the Valley. Because of the bike, I'm pretty limited as far as going over to Glacier Point or up on route 120 for hikes. I'm saving my knee for getting out of here.

I've met several interesting people. Harald and Helga, from Germany were camped in my site. Harald correctly identified not only my bike and seat, but my front hub dynamo. Turns out he's a mechanical engineer who works one day a week as a bicycle designer, making custom recumbent designs. He rode from Seattle to Alaska on a homebuilt short-wheelbase recumbent. We had an interesting, if geeky, talk about bikes and touring.

I met Mike and Tommie on one of my day hikes. They live up in the gold country, and manage to spend as much time as they can in the outdoors. They were in Yosemite celebrating their 11th wedding anniversary and scouting for a family get-together later in the year. Their advice was to avoid the southern desert and Death Valley this time of year.

Mike and Tommie on my bike

I called the Death Valley park office, and was told that the daytime temperatures on the valley floor have reached 120 degrees F. Nighttime temps are down to a chilly 85 degrees F. In a couple of weeks, it'll be a full moon, so the prospect of riding across the valley at night sounds appealing to me. I also got road grade information, and the climbing doesn't sound too bad.

The alternative route would be to go due east from the park, and go south at Tonopah on US95. This leads through desolate high desert, with towns about every 50 miles or so. Not too appealing.

While at the telephones by the deli, I met Steve, who is another traveler. He has done a bike trip from Oregon to the midwest, about 2200 miles, and wants to do more. He is here learning how to lead group tours. We decided to hike to the top of Yosemite Falls. Along the way, we had a conversation that touched on religion (he's a Christian and I'm an atheist), government invasion of privacy, government control of media, the dulling influence of TV on society, and the difference between people who desire comfort and stability and the much smaller group of us who are always looking for change and learning. It was a good conversation, and a good hike.

On the same hike, I met Katrina and Lisa, who were from the Clearwater FL area, though Katrina now lives in Venice Beach, and Lisa is staying in San Fransisco for the summer. I talked with Katrina about traveling -- she had traveled in China, Nepal, Thailand, Honduras, and Mexico. She had discovered that touring alone was the way to meet the locals and get more familiar with local culture, that staying in one place would be best for learning, and that many of the travelers she met, especially in Thailand and Nepal, were shallow hedonists whose behavior frequenly appalled her. So her future travel will likely be more focused on learning and helping people. She's entering medical school next year, and may get into international health practice. I took a picture of Katrina, Lisa, and Katrina's boyfriend Badialy (who is from Senegal).

(from L) Badialy, Katrina, and Lisa

I'm still waiting for the knee brace I ordered (which should be here Thursday or Friday). After it gets here, I'm going to go over route 120, out of Yosemite, and then down toward Death Valley. Route 120 is a challenge, as none of the Yosemite campgrounds along it are open yet. So if I had to camp (which I might, as the distance is about 65 miles across and out of the park), I would have to wilderness camp. To do this legally, I'd have to leave my bike at a trailhead, then hike up the trail at least one mile, carrying my tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad (at least). Unfortunately, I'm not well-equipped to do this, as the only backpack arrangement I have is an adapter that makes one of my small front panniers into a backpack. I may be able to lash stuff on to that, though.