Tag Archives: bears

A Day of Rest and Relaxation in Yosemite

After a strenuous hike along the Panorama Trail, a day of rest and relaxation was exactly what the vacation ordered.

We said goodbye to our friends Jason and Robyn after breakfast on our second full day in Yosemite. We knew that we would be taking it easy, because our legs were in pain. We hobbled out to our car and decided to drive up towards Tenaya Lake. We just wanted to find a good spot to sit and do nothing. And there is no better place to do nothing than in one of my favorite spots in the whole park.


We claimed a great slab of granite and broke out our lunch snacks. And we just sat. It was perfect.




We hung out at Tenaya Lake for about an hour, and then we headed further up the Tioga Road to Tuolumne Meadows. Once again, we found a hunk of granite and just sat.


We enjoyed the peace of Tuolumne Meadows and watched a rainstorm slowly roll in. We were actually pretty pumped to experience a storm in Yosemite. In two previous trips, we had never had a rainy day.

The second we saw lightening, though, we headed for the car. We started the drive back to Yosemite Valley, and caught a few cool glimpses of the passing storm.



We also saw our second bear of the trip, and it was a big one! We managed to get some of our best bear pictures ever before the inevitable crowds arrived.


Even though we didn’t do much, it was one of the most perfect days I’ve spent in Yosemite.

* Patagonia might be my new favorite brand after this trip. I am in love with the “plaid” shirt I wore this day. I also picked up their MiniMass Messenger Bag for the trip, in hot pink of course. I love it, too! A gear review is in order soon.

Shenandoah National Park: Stony Man

Jason and I snuck in one last hike before we left Shenandoah National Park. Starting from the Skyland area was the Stony Man Trail. Proximity and a difficulty level of “easy” made it an ideal choice. But easy definitely didn’t mean boring.

It was a 1½-mile round trip hike to the summit of Stony Man Mountain, the second highest peak in Shenandoah.

I can officially say I’ve hiked along the Appalachian Trail. It overlapped with the first portion of the Stony Man Trail. I was rather geeked out by this  🙂

Appalachian Trail Marker

Appalachian Trial that way…

Stony Man Trail

Stony Man cliffs this way…

Stony Man Trail

Hidden Acorn

It was on the verge of raining the entire time, but it never really got going. I think the mist added a little something to the whole scene.

Misty Mountains in the Morning

At first, the trail felt very similar to the Ice Age Trail. Then suddenly, it didn’t.

Stony Man Trail

Jason spotted rub marks left by deer.

Deer Rub Marks

The rock cliffs of Stony Man put us at 4,010 feet above sea level.

Stony Man Summit

Blue Ridge Mist

Jason at the Summit

Ice and wind shape the gnarled trees. The lichens all over everything are courtesy of the weather conditions: frequent fog and rain alternating with drying winds. It was creepy, yet really cool.

Exploring the Summit

And from the summit of Stony Man, we could look over Skyland Resort…

We stayed right there
We Stayed Here

As we drove along Skyline Drive leaving the park, we made sure to pull into the Stony Man Overlook for a picture. Can you see him?

Stony Man

The top is his forehead, which is where we climbed to. Then there is space for his eyes, his long rock nose, and his tree-covered beard. He is looking to the west and slightly upward to the sky.


I must say that I really enjoyed Shenandoah National Park. It was very different than the other national parks we have visited, but different doesn’t mean worse. It is special in its own way.

It would be an ideal place for a beginning backpacker. And most importantly, I didn’t fear for my life  😉  Actually, we found the threat-related differences the most interesting. There are bears, but the warnings about bear encounters are few and far between. There’s no mention of mountain lions, although according to Jason it is their ideal habitat. I love that he made this remark at the top of Stony Man, with ¾ of a mile of wooded, rocky, mist-shrouded forest between us and the car  😐

I almost forgot to mention that we were lucky enough to see a bear. We were aware that bears are in the park, but sightings are rare. As we continued out of the park, I spotted a big, black blob moving in the woods just off the road. I yelled to Jason just in time for him to stop. No picture, but we had an incredible view of a small black bear, chasing a deer no less. And this black bear was black, unlike the cinnamon-colored ones in California. We were so pumped!

Technically, Shenandoah is only a day’s drive from home…a very long day’s drive. But I definitely want to go back again to explore more of the park.

Recap of Yosemite 2010, Day 5

It’s Sunday, so that means Jason and I will be exploring Kings Canyon National Park. We will be fully immersed in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, which I’m sure I’m loving  🙂

As I prepared for this recap series, I realized that I never wrote a post for our final day in Yosemite last June 🙁  Bad Blogger! Bad! The funny thing is that Day 5 probably made the greatest impact on me personally. And it was our drive into the mountains on Day 5 that led to this current trip.

Here’s hoping I do that day justice…


Day 5 – June 9, 2010

After our big hike to Vernal and Nevada Falls, we decided that our final day would be best spent sitting as much as possible. So, we headed for the high country along the Tioga Road.
Let's Head for the High Country

Jason was super excited to see a marmot.
Close Up on the Marmot

We stopped at Olmstead Point with yet another different view of Half Dome.
Half Dome

Cloud's Rest

Our next stop along was Tenaya Lake. It was still a little iced over.

Tenaya Lake

We passed by the Tuolumne Meadows area that was still slightly snow-covered and shut-down (imagine that). Since we got into the park on a free weekend, we weren’t driving out of the park. This was as far as we went. Look at that snow!
Lots of Snow

High Country Clouds & Sky 1

Clearly, they weren’t kidding.
Looks Like They're Not Kidding

Because I was obsessed with it, we made another stop at Tenaya Lake.
Jason in His Element

Tenaya Lake

Tenaya Lake

Smile for the Waterfall!

The sky was just SO blue.
High Country

Yosemite Creek
Yosemite Creek

Yosemite Creek

Yosemite Creek

For some reason, I found these signs to be really funny.
There Are Rocks Everywhere!

Other signs weren’t very funny. These signs indicated spots where bears had been hit. “Red Bear, Dead Bear.” Not funny.
Red Bear = Dead Bear

“Watch for Rocks” = Funny. Rocks falling on truck = Not so funny.
Remember: Watch for Rocks

Back in the Valley, we stopped at Fern Spring.
Fern Spring

Fern Spring

And at El Capitan.
El Capitan

We turned into the Valley Chapel parking lot for more than just church business…

We were scoping out the neighboring meadow for bears. We got lucky!
"Our" Bear

After dinner, we headed out to get some evening shots of Half Dome. As the sun sets, it’s like the face of Half Dome glows. We got there rather early, so we went bear “hunting” again.
Half Dome

Bear #3
Bear #3

And Bear #4
Bear #4!!

Bear #4

As we peeled ourselves away from bear watching, we realized we were missing our Half Dome photo op.
Half Dome as the Sun Sets

Half Dome at Sunset

Half Dome at Sunset

Half Dome at Sunset


I was so sad for that trip to be over. I teared up so many times as we left the park, took off from the airport, arrived back in Wisconsin. However, in those final moments with Yosemite Valley, I vowed to return. And I kept that promise to myself.

Goodbye Yosemite

I can’t wait to share the latest chapter of my travels with you!


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