It is 12:30am, and I am "stealth camped" on a private road about six miles before the entrance to kings Canyon National Park. Today was another really long day wih its share of joy and frustrations.
I got up and packed out of my campsite bright and early this morning. I headed up the road toward Sonora Pass, and made the turn off. Yep, the road closed signs were still up. I decided to drive and see for myself. Sure enough, the road is closed. The Caltrans workers said it should be opened tomorrow....grrrrr. I of course, gave them an earful about how mad I was, and they shouldn't have told all the public agencies and radio stations that the road was going to be opened if it wasn't! Grrrrr.
The worker told me where to go, literally, I should drive to hiway 89 and take hiway 4 and Ebbits Pass across. So, off I go up to the next pass, as instructed, I take hiway 89, I turn on hiway 4 and, yep.... there they are...more road closed signs. Grrrrr. At this point I am really hacked... well, just screw it... I am going to drive thru anyway. I drive up the road, fuming the whole way, to find a wonderful Caltrans crew in action. I gave the flagger a piece of my mind. Of course, telling him I knew it wasn't his fault, but I was still hacked. He said I needed to go back to 89 and take the junction to 88 which would take me over Carsons Pass. I told him that if hwy 88 was closed when I got there, that I was going to come back and choke him. He knew I was just kidding, but he was definitely sympathetic to my frustration, although there wasn't a thing he could do about it.
So now I am so close to Lake Tahoe it is just stupid. I definitely hadn't planned to come this far north, but at this point, I've gone to so much effort and I can be so incredibly stubborn, it is 'Yosemite or bust'. Hiway 88 and Carson Pass were the winning combination. The road was quite scenic, and as I had been here before in 2005, I was flooded with memories, but again, didn't stop... Yosemite or bust!
It wasn't really clear where I needed to go once I reached the town of Sonora... and the town was absolutely jammed with traffic and people getting ready for some type of festival... I know that I did see signs for the festival of frogs.. i.e., the famous jumping frogs of Calaveras County... that is in a book that I read as a child by Mark Twain I believe. Now, that would be a fun festival to attend!! Anyway, little old ladies were rushing across streets with reckless abandon delivering their rice casserole and hot apple crumble to the local meeting hall for the potluck supper. I finally figured out how to get out of town, and once again, I was motoring toward Yosemite.
I reached the hiway 120 junction (the hiway to Yosemite), and there was a young guy walking on the hiway. He was looking all decked out with brand new REI backpacking gear. I pulled over and asked him if he needed a lift (my good hitch-hiking karma rule is to always offer a ride to anyone walking on the road with a backpack -- with personal discretion of course). He was heading to Yosemite and couldn't believe how quickly he scored a ride and that I was actually going all the way to Yosemite.
He seemed like a nice kid. He was 26 years old, and a bad boy wannabe. He had a long beard which he had woven into a single braid of sorts dropping 6 inches or so below his chin. He claims to make his living shooting video and making and selling DVD's. He gave me his web address, so I will have to check it out when I get home. He was awed when I pulled out my park pass and he didn't have to chip in for the entry fees. I think I just earned some good hitchhiking karma points!
I didn't hit the valley floor until after 2pm. I had originally set myself up to be at Yosemite in the morning and then cruise to Sequoia in the afternoon. Well, as they say, life is what happens when you're busy making other plans. I just grabbed my camera gear and a crutch and headed out. I completely let my hearts gravitational pull guide me where it wanted. I found myself walking toward half dome. Not on a trail, just walking toward it.... being pulled closer and closer. I found myself on a trail to mirror lakes and I kept going and going. I finally arrived at the lake and it was absolutely right smack below half dome. I should mention, that when I was on my cross country pull towards halfdome, I flushed a coyote out of the meadow. I took a few shots, but he was really too far away to get anything good.
Once I'd satisfied myself with photos from every possible angle, I took the shuttle out to Yosemite Falls and made the walk up to the base. It is so different and incredibly powerful with the spring runoff cascading down the face of a sheer cliff. The wind generated by the force of the falling water was really quite impressive. I took several shots, and found a pretty pleasing composition; although the light was gone. The falls were in shade. It made me really want to spend the night and try to get the falls in the morning, but Yosemite Valley is so popular that you have to make reservations months in advance. I continued my exploration, and was surprised to feel a huge lump in my throat and tears squeezing out of my eyes. oh, how I did not want to leave! I could easily spend an entire vacation exploring the sites and trails around Yosemite. I finally made my way back to my little rental car at aound 8pm, just as the light was beginning to fade away for the day.
I drove and I drove. I did stop at one hotel about halfway here at 10pm or so, and they only had smoking rooms available. Ugggh. I decided to keep driving. I just kept driving... not really knowing what else to do. I didn't see any campsites and there aren't many street lights out here, which doesn't help.
I kept getting closer and closer to the Sequoia National Park entrance, and knew that I wouldn't be allowed to stealth camp inside Thankfully, just before the park entrance, there was a spur road. I drove up it aways, pulled off the road, flipped down the seats and prepared for a restless
and uncomfortable night.