Today our goal was to get up fairly early and get into Yosemite early. We had been told by many sources that if you get there too late, there will be a wait at the entrance. So we were out of the hotel by 8:45am and we got right in. Our agenda was to see the giant sequoias at Mariposa Grove. Initially we planned to hike the 3 miles up to the upper grove and then hike back, but Cornbread found out that there was a tram ride that we could take to the top and hike down. It was not a planned expense, but it was definitely worth it.
The tram ride included radios with an interesting running commentary about the trees and the grove. We learned many things about the giant sequoias: they are weirdly resistant to diseases and insects, after they fall they refuse to decay, they can have the entire center (heartwood) burned out of them and still live, they have very shallow roots which intertwine with other giants to create stability, they fall due to heavy wind or snow storms (can you even imagine what it would be like if one of those thing toppled over?), the largest tree in the grove is The Grizzly Giant, which is 98 feet across and some of its branches are 7 feet across. These things are phenomenal. It is unreal to be near them and to see the girls next to them. I've seen them in books and pictures, but it is simply incredible to be right up next to them.
Bugly next to the roots of a fallen giant.
The girls posing by one of the giants.
Bugly is in this picture... looking for the Berenstein Bears' home.
We got to the upper grove and hopped off of the tram and hiked down. I would guess that we hiked between 3 and 4 miles with all of the meandering we did in order to see some of the famous trees up close and personal (Grizzly Giant, Telescope, Clothespin, Faithful Couple). We all had a great time exploring and following our noses. The hike was nicer near the uppergrove as it was just us and the forest. Near the bottom it was very busy with many tourists. The girls had a great time - we each had a walking stick and we stayed on the path, but had the liberty to veer off to see something cool. We hiked up a hill to see what was on the other side, we climbed giant rocks, we crawled through some trees, we searched and searched for the Bernstein Bears' house:) The last mile was a little rough as some little legs got pretty tired, but overall they did great.
Inside the Telescope Tree. The heartwood of this tree has been completely burned out and you can go in, look up and see the sky through the tree canopy.
We went back to our room to shower and change (it is dusty and dirty in the forest and we were FILTHY!) and then went out to Oakhurst to visit with a friend who lives there. Actually, one of our close friends had been at Calvin Crest Camp for the last two weeks and was at his grandma's afterward. He stayed in CA for a couple of extra days so he could hang out with us while we were here. We visited Gramma and David for a little bit and then they took us to Calvin Crest to show us around.
Calvin Crest is kind of a legacy in their family. Both of our friends, Doug & Jenny, were campers and on staff there, Gramma and Grampa were permanent staff there for 10 years, and both of the boys have camped there every summer since we've known them. Calvin Crest is kind of a big deal and we definitely enjoyed our visit there. Nodie would be old enough to go out there next summer, but I'm not sure we could swing the camp fee AND the plane tickets, but we'll definitely keep it in mind... camp in the mountains.
After our visit at Calvin Crest we went back to Gramma's for dinner. She made us a wonderful Tri-Tip dinner and we had a really nice visit. Again, we were all wiped by 8:30 so we came back and crashed in bed.
This is definitely our kind of vacation - active, up early, to bed early, doing stuff and being exhausted. However, I'm missing the beach vacations that we've done in the past and I keep telling Cornbread that while I'm having a great time, I'm ready for Belize next March LOL:) We'll see what is available by the time he earns the next trip, but I'm thinking a beach resort may be in order for the winter/early spring of 2011. I am definitely, definitely spoiled.