Bill & Lori in Yosemite 2004


Our good friends Mike and Diana Maloney reserved a 'hood in Upper Pines Campground in Yosemite Valley (September 8-11). That is, six campsites in a cul-de-sac where we could stretch out and not feel like we had too many other folks on top of us. We had space for 36 people but only 7 showed, so we had lots of room. Diana became a landlord and sold extra campsites to the "campless."

The Campsite

The Campfire

The Campfire

Here are a few shots where you can get a feel for the campground. Sort of. Note the new bear boxes and the lack of thick clothing. We had highs in the 90s and lows around 60. This is probably the first time I wasn't in a down jacket at night in the Sierras. Unbelievable.

Fashion statement, or I really like your Bluntstones!

Fashion statement, or I really like your Bluntstones!

This was also the first time that I didn't see any bears while I was in Yosemite. The rangers are doing a good job of tracking them and scaring them away with guns with rubber bullets and M80s (1/3 stick of dynamite). We heard several explosions so the bears were close. One night we heard a blood-curdling scream around 4 in the morning. You would have thought the bear was actually going into someone's tent but I'll bet the screamer was just freaked out to see the bear at all. There was then a loud crash like the bear was sweeping everything off of a picnic table.

Shorts! At night! In the Sierras!

Shorts! At night! In the Sierras!

The rangers were pretty good at warning people of the dangers. One night we had two rangers come through our campsite. One harrassed Mike about leaving the bear box open while he was cooking and another explained that leaving the bottle of wine on the picnic table wasn't a good idea. When we said that we'd tell the bottle's owner, Niki, who was in the bathroom, to put it in the bear box, he said that there was a $250 fine involved, so we thought it would be best not to wait for Niki and we stashed it in the bear box ourselves.

Lori adds: Our hosts, Mike and Diana, provided many creature comforts -- chairs, tables, complete cooking stoves and utensils, delicious food. Bill and I had a huge tent to ourselves -- one we could actually stand up in. I slept in a sleeping bag on a comfortable air mattress and went to sleep each night to the sound of the wind whispering through the tall pines. It was very peaceful and relaxing.

Mirror Lake Hike (The Warm-Up)

Half Dome Hike

Half Dome, our destination

Half Dome, our destination

Lori writes: This was the hardest, longest hike I've ever done -- 17 miles roundtrip, 4,500 foot elevation gain (to nearly 9K feet) in 8.2 miles, it took us over 10 hours. And it was also one of the most beautiful hikes I've done -- past waterfalls, through pine-filled forests, over granite boulders. The trail was filled with people -- it was a warm, sunny day, and it's one of the world's most popular hikes -- we heard several foreign languages along the way. It was such a busy day that near the top, where you must pull yourself up the last steep shoulder of the mountain by holding on to thick wire cables, we actually had to wait on line! But it was worth it -- the view from the top was spectacular.

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