I had already had Yosemite circled or map and was going to go there but upon getting within five miles of its entrance (at Tioga Pass) I were informed that that particular entrance was closed and I’d have to take a detour in the mountains, which would take me no less than two hours. Did I mention the mountain was owned by the military and there were all sorts of signs saying stopping at any point was prohibited? Big military Jeeps climbed up and down and soldiers with large rifles could be seen every now and then just standing aside the road keeping guard. To make matters all the more tense the farther we drove up this insanely steep mountain the more snow started to pile up on the ground. The Californians here, who must have also been on the way to Yosemite, could be seen every now and then ignoring the signs and stopping to play in the snow. Gates started to appear on an increasingly thin road, just beyond them reading “road closed” just in case the option had to be taken. By now the snow was reaching well over the height of the Jeep and I wondered just how it was plowed like that in the first place, they must have some seriously hefty equipment to do so. Luckily I made it to the top of the mountain without anything being closed but the ride down was rough. I’ve been on a lot of mountain roads since beginning the journey but this one seemed more intense, with far steeper declines on very windy roads. It would have been a bad place for anyone’s brakes to fail, that’s for sure!
When I finally got back on the road, the same road I was detoured off of, I entered the park but by this time it was getting quite late. I rushed through, trying to see all I could and stopping every now and then to snap photos. As I was told this place was full of waterfalls, all postcard pretty. I walked over a little wooden pathway going over the local marsh. I couldn’t resist splashing the water once which was bath warm. How very odd! There didn’t seem to be too much going on in the water but there were mule deer all around and people were reacting to them like they were one-eyed one-horned purple people eaters, leaning out their window and yelling, “DEER! There’s a deer right there!” At that point I was far more amused by the people than the deer. In New England deer are so common we eat them… and I don’t mean some people eat them, I mean you’d be hard up to find anyone who hasn’t at least tried venison once or twice.
Finally I ended up on the path to see the main fall, Bridal Veil. First I took a little detour to their bathrooms and I must say they had hands down the worst bathrooms I have seen on my trip. Walking in there were ten or so stalls lined up and toilet paper EVERYWHERE. Looking into the stalls I could see some of the toilets were over flowing with not only toilet paper but also pads and tampons. I am not sure where all the toilet paper was from because the dispensers were all full… with paper it absolutely refused to let go of. Nothing was clean, there was graffiti here and there but I suppose it could have been worse. I was told the graffiti in the men’s room was artfully crafted in actual human shit. I don’t get this at all! Why doesn’t such a known park, which receives so much money from visitors, not just hire a bathroom cleaner?!
But anyways, back to the falls… even though it was late there were still people walking up here. You could see the falls between the trees and take pretty photos. I passed an interesting little rock outcropping that formed a cave-like formation. At the end of the path I was able to walk right over the river at the bottom of the falls. It was wet, very wet, and no photos were possible as the camera lens was instantaneously covered with droplets of water. Still it was quite invigorating! I actually chickened out and didn’t go across the bridge. I had no idea where it led, but apparently it was a loop path. I ended up back out on the road to the Jeep in no time, stopping one last time to photograph an ancient mule deer with a completely white face. She appeared to be pregnant and was letting people get within a foot of her. She simply didn’t care. This had to be the world’s oldest pregnant deer. I don’t even know that she was with it enough to know she was a deer.
On my way out something big caught my eye but it confused me in that split second because it was too fat to be a deer, much too fat. As it turns out it was a baby grizzly bear just checking everyone out. One good look was all we got as the ranger on duty was already chasing him away before I could get the camera to focus on him. This is common practice in the area so bears don’t get accustomed to people and their food and therefore are far less likely to attack humans and get shot themselves. Still, it was neat to see a blonde baby bear after reading sign after sign reading, “Speeding kills bears. Obey the speed limit.” They even had the logo on magnets in t
he gift shop, just in case you needed a future reminder.
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