A weekend with the Baja girls and Yosemite

A few years back our neighbors Brad and Jessica took the Baja girls, Teresa and Eva, on a camping trip.  It was both a success and a challenge, but left the girls with a desire to go again.  Karen and I have shared many of the stories about our adventures with the girls over the years.  So, it came as no surprise that they had an interest in visiting Yosemite National Park with us.  Because both the girls were a few years older than when they camped with Brad and Jessica, we were quite certain that they could handle our version of camping.  A date was picked and a campsite reserved.

We had reservations for a walk-in campsite at Hodgedon Meadow, reasonably low altitude for the non-valley campsites.  It was also directly beside the Big Oak Flat entrance point, which allowed us to cut short the twisty mountain driving shortly after arriving at the park.  Of course no inaugural visit to Yosemite would be complete without a photo by the sign, and a quick overview of bear safety.

Once at the campground, we unloaded the car and walked into our site.  Karen taught the girls how to pitch their tent, while I put ours up and secured the food.  Importantly, I also hung our two camping hammocks.  As we settled in to camp and prepared lunch, the girls discovered new and unique ways to sit in a hammock.  Lunch taken care of, we were back in the car and off to Yosemite Valley and the famous sites of Half Dome, El Capitan, Bridalveil Fall, and the Merced River.

On our hike to the base of Bridalveil Fall, the girls, Karen and I scampered around the rocks of the riverbed.  This year water is so short the fall was rarely hitting the valley.  Most of the water was being blown back up the cliff and simply saturating the rock face.  So the riverbed was quite dry, with only a few pools here and there.  So it was our great surprise when Teresa found the first snake Karen and I have seen in Yosemite.  And, not just any snake either.  She found a water snake that was actively hunting the 4 to 6 inch trout lingering in the pools.  Given Teresa is so fond of reptiles, we had a great time watching the creature hunt fish.  After we were back to the car, we drove a few more minutes into the valley and stopped at a good stretch of river where all of us took a wade into the water.

After swimming we toured the valley until it was time to drive back to our camp and start preparing our campfire, food, and smores.  Eva helped Karen start the campfire and learned how to stack the wood so as to allow enough oxygen to reach the underside of the fire while providing a good pocket to keep in the heat.  Teresa learned how to whittle wood.  She worked hard on a pointy stick.  Once we had the campfire going, it was time to break out the dehydrated backpacking food.  Although this was not necessary as we were not carrying all our gear on our backs, it is still a fun time eating such a different type of food from normal.  Then, it was time for smores.

After food and a bit of hanging around on the hammocks, we went to the ranger campfire and learned all about the Sequoias.  The first known discovery of the Sequoias was at the Merced grove – we would visit the next morning – by a group of trappers who were traveling over the Sierras.  The ranger brought out a rope the length of the circumference of the largest of all the Sequoias, General Sherman in the Maraposa Grove.  All the kids at the campfire were asked to come hold on to the rope and spread it out in a circle, and then marvel at how big it was.

The Persides meteor shower was occurring over the weekend and it was peaking on Saturday night.  So, after the campfire we walked out to Hodgedon Meadow and looked up to the sky to find some shooting stars.  Just a handful of minutes passed before we saw a great big fireball light up the sky, changing colors as it slowly crossed the sky.  So as not to get eaten by bears, we walked back to camp and retired to our tents so that we could get up early and hike to the redwoods.

The next morning we had a quick 3 mile hike to the Merced grove of Sequoias.  We saw clusters of the giant trees and had lunch at the grove.  Afterwards, it was back to the Valley for another swim and some relaxing before heading home.

Overall it was a great time with both Teresa and Eva and hopefully everyone can camp again soon.

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