Wodin’s Day

July 7, 2010

Good Wodin’s Day. Nice here in Bishop, California, on Highway 395 east of the Sierra Nevada mountains. We drove to Yosemite June 2, the rental car trunk loaded with camping gear, and reached the park’s north entrance at Big Oak Flat around 1:00 pm. After signing in for our wilderness permit, required for those camping overnight on the park’s extensive trail system, we drove on up the Tioga Road to the small parking area for the Porcupine Creek trail. Day hikers use this trail to hike to North Dome overlooking Yosemite Valley, and several miles west of that, to the head of Yosemite Falls. We camped about a mile off the road in a spot we have visited several times before. Fatigue from trip preparations, the 5 hours of driving, and 8000 feet altitude allowed us to sleep soundly on the ground despite our first sighting of a black bear about 80 yards from our camp site. Not to worry, as our food was securely in a hard plastic bear-proof container. Of course, I was holding a pot of chicken flavored noodles at the time the bear showed up, so there was a bit of alarm, but bruin continued past our site into the woods.

Next day we day hiked to Snow Creek Falls, admiring trees, flowers, plants, deer and small mammals, as well as numerous birds along the way. The water is high in the park this year after heavy snowfall over the winter. In fact, there was snow on the trails here and there just about everywhere we went. As a result, spring has been delayed to July, and the wild flowers are just coming out. That evening as we were preparing “dinner” (Knorr rice and chemical flavor) two bears appeared near the camp site, a mother and a yearling. Black bear cubs stay with mom for two years before launching, it seems. I first thought the mom was another hiker, because she was standing on her hind legs doing something to a small tree. Pam said no, and a quick check with binoculars proved her right. So we hustled to get the food secured — food interpreted broadly to include anything with scent, such as chapstick, toothpaste, Pepto, shampoo, you name it. The two bears walked toward our camp site but veered off when Pam blew the whistle on them, to the accompaniment of Tom clattering cooking pan and lid.

Next morning, July 4, we went looking for birds in the woods up the hill before packing up to hike back to the car. Near the top of the hill sighted a solitary bear ambling along oblivious to us. So as was appropriate on Independence Day, we gave thought to our four bears. We headed back to camp, packed our gear into the backpacks, and hoofed up the 500 foot rise to the car, with an hour stop by a creek to eat lunch and soak our feet in the creek. On the trail we met hikers from India, Japan, Spain, Switzerland, Nevada, and North Carolina. It was relatively busy on the trail that day, though we often saw no one for an hour or more. The last uphill climb to the car was exhausting but beautiful, the sound of jays, chickadees, warblers, and nuthatches echoing through the woods.

We spent the next two nights near Murphy Creek at 9000 feet. That area is classic Yosemite granite walls and scattered pine, fir, spruce, and juniper trees. We had a wide open view of the sky at night and lay out on a flat granite slab to watch the constellations appear. We worked on Draco, Scorpio, Cygnus, and the Herdsman. Monday we made a lovely day hike up the trail. We saw assorted birds, including woodpeckers and one duck. Late afternoon the new mosquitos plagued us a bit during dinner, but we saw no more bears. Tuesday we hiked back down to the car at Tenaya Lake and drove to Tuolomne Meadows. Over burgers we discussed digital philosophy with a Google engineer from Santa Clara. Then we drove east to Lee Vining. Today we will hike the trail through the bristlecone pine forest in the White Mountains. More on that later.

One Response to “Wodin’s Day”

  1. Glad to hear the trip is continuing well! I tried calling you guys back yesterday but you didn’t pick up… hope to talk to you soon!