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Yosemite conditions this year

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Yosemite conditions this year

Postby markskor » Tue Aug 07, 2012 10:45 pm

Just returned from 87 Sierra Nights – (my god that went by fast) – and before writing up any TRs, decided to ramble on a bit on the state of amenities in Yosemite as found today.

Food available:
Curry pizza has increased in price a bit but now serves a quality product worthy of anticipation. While $24 for a large 2-topping will satiate 2 hikers easily but the $5.95 beers and $10.25 for a top-shelf Margarita limits the multiple consumption of potables on the crowded Curry deck.

Sadly, the short-lived Mexican food stand that was there the last two seasons on the Curry deck next to the Mountain shop has been replaced by just another ubiquitous burger stand. It does stay open later but that was good Mexican food and a nice alternative found there the last few years…sigh.

The Curry cafeteria seems to offer less than in years past, especially for breakfast. Twice stopped there and the fruit was sparse and not ripe and the hot food cold…felt cheated at $12…

Degnon's still a bargain in the Village…$7 sandwiches…and a soda machine where you can do unlimited refills. FYI, Root-beer floats were easy to assemble there for that after-hike, sugar fix.

None of the Yosemite markets offer any powdered drink mixes for hiking – no Crystal Lite or G2 or the like (just those big tubs of Kool-Aid.) Buy any powdered drink packages before you get into the park.

Tuolumne grill still offers burgers but they pre-cook them half way through before the afternoon rush and re-heat them quickly before serving the masses. And while good, just not as great as in years past…The soft-serve ice cream cones @ $2.40 are still a treat.
The store itself has great chicken and cheese, microwave burritos (blue wrappers) that are yummy and a better deal for hot food at $2.50 each. They also offer wine liters in a box/pouch for $10….a good selection of bottled red wines too. Good salsa and chips available and a chilled 12-pack of PBR can be found for $11. Lots of other great beers (Sierra Nevada and Corona) are also available at ~$1.75 each. Propane canisters are also readily available there and in the Valley too.

Tuolumne lodge offers a fruit and oatmeal and coffee breakfast for $7.95 and has an expensive ala carte breakfast menu too…if space is available. The dinners there are also available for the public (with reservations made hours before) and are a bit pricey…$40 with tip.

Wilderness permits:
In Tuolumne, the two rangers there (Greg and our own HST Jen) deserve special mention for courtesy and professionalism…just a great experience every time through. FYI, many permit seekers there start getting in line about 10:00 AM for the 11:00 “next-day openings” and one or the other Ranger comes outside at 10:50 and gives the “speech” to all in line which greatly speeds up the individual process inside. FYI, interesting that other than the thru-hikers (PCT and Muir) not that many people are going out hiking the trails other than Glen Aulin, Sunrise, or Rafferty Creek and most trailheads have open spots available even in the afternoon. BTW, after making an introduction back in May, the Rangers in Tuolumne always remembered me and never gave me the speech inside…just a friendly smile and a “Where are you going this time?”…no other questions and the entire process (received 7 permits this year so far) never took more than 2 minutes.

Trail crews seem to have adopted a new philosophy on trail-work design. On both the Yosemite Falls trail and the Snow Peak Trail, the giant 1-foot steps are slowly being replaced by sensible smaller steps which are much easier to navigate than the older larger steps. About 1/3 of these 2 trails seem to have been redone…nice work too.

With the low water available now, bears were never seen anywhere in the wilderness other than in the backpacker camps in Tuolumne and in the Valley. Nothing is blooming in the high country.
BTW, As of Aug 4th, there have been 23 bear deaths recorded on the highways of Yosemite this season. Drive carefully! No bear attacks reported to any car in Yosemite so far as of Aug 1.
One incident of note – Mid July, a doe came by with her two fauns in tow – Valley Backpacker camp…a real Bambi photo moment. A 200 lb bear appeared from nowhere and glommed onto one tiny faun…shaking it violently like a shark attack…audible breaking of bones. The doe called out – “Naaaaa” (didn't know deer talked), got up on her hind legs, did a Muhammad Ali and treated the bear like a punching bag. She quickly delivered 30 – 40 solid hits on the bear’s head in less than 15 seconds…looked like she put out it’s eye…blood everywhere…never seen a deer attack anything and it was scary to see. The bear then shot up a tree and the doe and remaining faun took off. The bear came down, picked up the carcass, and ambled off soon after they left. The Ranger just said, “That’s nature...circle of life.”

The big falls are long dry, Raft rentals have been stopped for weeks now, and high country sources are also fast drying up. There is no water between the Merced and Sunrise Creek (if doing the Dome) and if going Tenaya to the Valley, even Sunrise Creek, while still holding some flowing water, will also soon be dry too so plan accordingly and carry water if unsure. BTW, Washburn Lake was 4 feet below normal for this time of year.

The Valley art studio (south of the Village Store) still offers world class art instruction from famous artists…4 hour lessons (10:00 – 2:00) daily for $10. Aline, the woman who runs the art institute is amazing, knowledgeable, and most welcoming…Stop by and tell her hi from me if interested in art.

Parking long term:
Curry orchard still a safe haven for your auto…Left mine there for 3 months and not a problem other than a bit dusty.

Backpacker Camps:
In the Valley, Dave the Ranger (a good guy) comes by @ 7:00 PM and you need a bear can and a valid wilderness permit to stay there. (If arriving by bus or if riding a bike, a wilderness permit is not required but you still only can stay for that one night. BTW, do not leave overnight gear set up in the morning as another Ranger comes around @10:00 AM and checks…saw some gear confiscated. If you are staying one day after a trip – (need one wilderness permit) and then one other night before another trip – (another wilderness permit…or 2 nights), pick up all your gear and take all out after the first night and then set up again in the afternoon.
Never saw any Range up in Tuolumne BP camp… (Stayed there 6 nights total).
Stayed one night in LYV and the Ranger (with a grumpy attitude) came by at dusk…Must be a thankless job. Heard another Ranger is stationed up at Quarter Dome, checking for Half Dome permits.

Dinners can be found at Voglesang and Merced HSC’s for ~ $29.00 if space is available (reserve-able beforehand too) and you can also ask is space is available when passing by…well worth it too. Merced HSC also offers a hot shower with their dinner price. Salad, soup, warm bread, and dessert come with an entree and we asked for more fruit/bread and salad every time and were given plenty. BTW, Extra food can be shipped up by mule to any HSC too for $5/pound. (We shipped 30 pounds to Voglesang - $150) They ship 3 times a week (Mon, Wed, and Fri) and will hold your food stuffsack inside the HSC safe, waiting for you as you pass by a few days later.
Mountainman who swims with trout

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Re: Yosemite conditions this year

Postby Mradford » Tue Aug 07, 2012 11:10 pm

Lots of good info here. But the thing that blows my mind is the bear attack and te reaction of the doe. CRAZY! Sucks that so many bears have been killed this season.

Thanks for posting.
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Re: Yosemite conditions this year

Postby quentinc » Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:15 pm

Yeah, the deer-bear attack sounds amazing. Too bad no one caught it on their cell phone -- I thought every significant event in America is now recorded on someone's phone.
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Re: Yosemite conditions this year

Postby oldranger » Sun Aug 12, 2012 7:58 pm

By the way that is the 4th witnessed bear taking a fawn that I have heard about. The first over 25 years ago and 3 in the past 2 years.

Also I think the charge is $7 a pound for shipping anything to Merced Lake.


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Re: Yosemite conditions this year

Postby roxyk » Tue Aug 14, 2012 9:22 pm

Hi, I'm looking for info on how much water is flowing over Vernal Falls and if the Mist Trail steps are mostly wet or mostly dry?
The reason I ask is I'm planning on doing Half Dome but the group I'm with wants to do a midnight hike up to the Dome (hence we'll be ascending the Mist steps in the dark) and ascend the cables in the morning to catch sunrise. Reason being to avoid the crowds starting from the Valley in the AM (we don't have wilderness permits). Crazy plan? Abort?
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