Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Yosemite Valley Floor Tour

It's our first real day to explore Yosemite. We got in late last night, but now we're ready to go check it out!

Someone was being a good boy while we all got ready. Chi made breakfast and we packed up lunch for later.

He doesn't look too thrilled, but just watch the video afterwards. 

Grandpa can always make him smile.

We're just a few minutes outside Yosemite Valley. Unfortunately the Foresta Fire of 2009 cleared out a majority of the trees around here.

But it's slowly making a comeback. 

I was curious how crazy busy Yosemite was going to be. We're coming during the peak waterfall season, but it's also during the middle of the week. Our tour would start at the lobby of the Yosemite Lodge. Looks like it's not very crowded at all right now! We parked right in front of the lodge. 

 Someone is happy to be out of his carseat and being held by Grandpa.

Theresa had called a few days earlier and made reservations for the 10am Yosemite Valley Tour. For just $25 per person you'll ride around in a bus with a Park Ranger as they describe the park.  

It's always a day-of decision whether you'll get the covered bus or the open air trailer. It depends on the temperature and the forecast that day, but luckily for us it was warm enough that we're going in the open air trailer. Much better for viewing!

There were beautiful blue skies. It was actually a little hot in the sunshine and cool in the shade. Perfect weather.

Hoping to see some bears or something on the valley floor. No such luck though. 

Theresa keeping the wind out of Ian's ears. 

Looking across the valley towards Cathedral Rocks. 

The tour parked at the base of El Capitan where we learned a brief history of the mountain. We learned that most climbers take 3-4 days climbing the face of El Capitan, spending the night on the side of the mountain. Alex Honnold and Hans Florine hold the record for speed climbing the face, making it up in just 2 hours and 24 minutes.

 Most of us were searching for climbers and I happened to spot one.

Driving past Bridalveil Falls. 

For 10 minutes or so, Ian was "that kid" on the tour. Not being real loud, but being a little fussy and cranky. Guess he's hungry and tired. After getting a bottle, he was great again. 

Our first stop to get out and stretch our legs was at the very west side of the valley by the Merced river. Our ranger guide said this was one of the first places Ansel Adams decided to photograph when he came to Yosemite.

And I can see why. It's beautiful!

Next on our stop, was Tunnel View where we again got to get out and walk around a little. They also had a cooler with ice water for those who wanted it.

Circling the valley, we see El Capitan from another angle. 

I'm so glad we came this time of year. Our last visit was in August and all the waterfalls had slowed to a trickle. Today though, with all the snow melt, there is plenty of water coming off the falls. Nice to be in the open air trailer. We wouldn't get views like this from a bus. 

Getting a good view of Half Dome. 

There's deer here somewhere in this blurry photo. That's what I get for having my camera set up to take photos of the bright sunny spots and not being ready for things to happen in the shadows. 

There, the camera's set up and the deer are well behind us now. 

The trailer pulled up to the banks of the Merced river and you could hear the water crashing on the rapids. The ranger asked the driver to turn off the engine and everyone to be silent for a few moments to just listen to the peaceful sounds of nature. Two seconds later, the person in front of us yelled to the ranger "Can you tell us more about Whitney and Muir?"  

Well I really enjoyed the Valley Floor Tour. Our 10am tour wasn't crowded at all, though the ones we saw later in the day were pretty full. If you do take it, I'll give you the same suggestion that was given to us. Sit as far to the back as possible. One you're not dealing with the noise and smell of the vehicle that's pulling you, and two you don't have the ranger sitting up high and blocking your view. 

Thank you to our tour guide!

Someone slept through the last half of the tour against Mommy. 

Time to stop by the food court (coffee for Richard) and restrooms before we continue our own tour of the valley. 

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