Thursday, July 05: Yosemite to Death Valley
It’s time for bed and still 100 degrees?!
Today was one of the best days ever. We packed up and left the Bug, then drove through the high sierra northern part of the park (the one that we drove through at night on the way in). It was totally awesome! I think I liked it better than Yosemite valley. I really like sub-alpine meadows. It was also nicely cooler up at 7-9000 feet.
There were lots of domes, mountains, meadows, etc. At one point we saw this big thing sticking up south of us. We had to turn around to get back to the pull-out, so that we could get a picture of it. We were surprised to find that it was Half Dome! It is even more impressive from the north. At the overlook, I hiked a short distance to a view point where there was a good view of the upper Yosemite valley, which looks like it would be neat to hike from the top to the bottom. OTOH, the signs warn against this as if you lose the trail, you could end up stranded on a cliff. It would probably take at least 2-3 days anyways.
On the way back, I found a photogenic marmot that let me get quite close to him and take pictures. Unfortunately, at this point I filled up my camera flash. In fact, this was the biggest picture day yet. Between Yosemite and Death Valley, I almost filled up both of my flash cards.
Death Valley was interesting. We were going along around 4,000 feet, and then we started dropping down through a canyon into this large valley. We figured that this was Death Valley. It even had some large sand dunes in them. But then we continued across to the other side and up and out of the canyon. I could just picture the canyon saying “nyah nyah, fooled you!” We went through a pass and then dropped down into a larger valley. *That* was Death Valley.
Even though it was 7:30 at night, the temperature was still 109. We stopped at the sand dunes and hiked a short distance out into them. That was fun, although it got tons of sand into my sneakers. I got some good pictures of Mike jumping off of the dunes. Michael wanted to hike to the big dunes we could see, but we guessed that they were a mile or more away.
We then drove to Furnace Creek Ranch. This place is really nice. The rooms are nice (and air conditioned). There is a museum, steak house, cafe, as well as a pool and golf course--a far cry from the Bug.
We even got a ground-floor room so I didn’t have to carry anything up the stairs!
We had dinner, and then I took a quick dip in the pool, which was pleasantly warm but still cool enough. I was surprised that for the first few minutes after getting out, I was actually slightly chilled.