Tag Archives: wildlife

California Vacation 2011: Tokopah Falls

After spending the late morning and early afternoon in the Kings River Canyon, and after making a quick stop to see the General Grant Tree (more on that in my next post), we made it to our final planned destination for the day: Lodgepole Village. There were two reasons for visiting this area. First, I wanted to check out the gift shop and get another “cancellation” for my National Parks Passport. Second, we wanted to take the “short” hike to see Tokopah Falls. We were partially successful.

Tokopah Falls was a recommendation from our Foothills Visitor Center connection. The hike to Tokopah was much shorter compared with hikes to other falls, yet it was just as beautiful. Sounded good to us.

When we arrived at Lodgepole Village, it was packed. There is a campground right there, and it’s clearly a popular place. We headed to the Visitor Center first. We got directions to the Tokopah Falls trailhead, but there was no cancellation station 🙁 When we were talking about the trail to the falls, another woman said it was an easy hike with only one slight incline. Sounded more than doable now that it was creeping towards 5:30pm.

Before going to the trailhead, we tried hitting up the gift store. Holy people! After being run into – and not necessarily accidentally – by more than one person, I decided that I didn’t need anything that badly. Shopping was really letting me down 🙁

Disappointed and a little angry, we headed to the trailhead for our 1.7 mile hike to the falls.

The trail runs alongside the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River.
Kaweah River

Deer #1

Marmot! We love marmots!

Seriously, that was the longest 1.7 miles ever! The trail just kept going and going and going. While not a difficult trail, there were a lot more upward portions than we were led to believe. We started to get concerned when we had yet to reach the falls and the sun was setting quickly. We hauled it and finally reached the end.

Tokopah Falls

It was actually a very pretty area, and I wish we had planned better so we could have enjoyed it a little longer.

We had a couple more wildlife sightings on the return hike. Deja vu.




We got back to the car and were able to make it out through the construction before the sun was completely down. Before settling into yet another hotel, we hit up the River View Restaurant for dinner again. I really liked that place  🙂

California Vacation 2011: Stop in Yosemite Valley

After two and a half fabulous days in Tuolumne Meadows, it was time to head out 🙁  As part of our Plan B once our High Sierra loop trip was kaput, Jason and I decided to head south to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. But first, a quick side trip to Yosemite Valley!

Being the masochistic vacationers we are, we set our alarms for 5:30am. We wanted to get to the Valley as early as we could…without hating ourselves for it later 😕 We successfully pulled out of Tuolumne Meadows around 6:00am and were down to the Valley around 7:30am, just in time to enjoy the breakfast buffet at the Curry Village Pavilion.

From breakfast, we headed to the next logical place: the Village Store for souvenir shopping. I am sad to report that I purchased nothing  🙁  We must have hit a good year last summer, because there was nothing cute this time around. From there, we stopped by the Ansel Adams Gallery to check out Sequoia/Kings Canyon prints. I was also hoping to find a special piece of jewelry to remind me of the trip. Again, no luck  😥 However, I was told that I could be a hand model. I should totally pursue that  😉

Half Dome looming above us.
Half Dome

We checked out Yosemite Falls, which was still going due to the heavy snowfall. While I know that it was impressive for this time of year, it was still nothing compared to what we saw last summer (or what had to be going on this June).

While waiting for the bus, we met this good-looking little friend.
Steller's Jay

Yosemite Falls

The dry creek bed below the falls. Definitely not dry last June.
Yosemite Falls

Lower Yosemite Falls
Yosemite Falls

Then, it was time for the real reason behind our Valley visit.

The Curry Village Pizza Patio!
Pizza Patio


Well, it wasn’t all about pizza. I couldn’t imagine visiting Yosemite and not seeing the Valley.

Of course, we were quickly reminded why we stayed in the High Country. There are too many people in the Valley, and many of them are just plain rude. We bore witness to plenty of stupidity in the three/four hours we spent down there. It was bittersweet driving out of the Valley to head south.

Yosemite Valley

Goodbye Yosemite. Until we meet again…
Goodbye Yosemite

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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