Home > Events > 2008
May 18 - 20
Vacation in Gold Country and Yosemite

We take a couple of days off late Spring to venture up to Gold Country and to Yosemite National Park. On Sunday we drove on Highway 4 west of Stockton thru Angels Camp toward Calaveras Big Trees. From there we had lunch at Murphys, then 'tried' to go to Moaning Caverns but didn't, then headed to Columbia, Sonora, Jamestown, Groveland, then to stay with my cousin Nestor at Pine Mt. Lake. Monday and Tuesday we spent all day in Yosemite, staying Monday night just outside the park in El Portal. My last visit to this are was in 1992, Toby's last visit was in the 1980s, and Yosemite in the 1970s.

Sunday, May 18:
We leave the Bay Area around 7am and head up toward Gold Country. The hot weather that was in the Bay Area the week earlier was traveling with us to the mountains. It was already mid 80s at 9am. We first make a stop in downtown Angels Camp, which was having their famous Jumping Frog contest that same weekend. The town was quiet since most of the stores were not open yet. We then head up the mountain to Calaveras Big Trees State Park to see their large grove of massive Sequoia Redwood trees. We do the North Grove trail. We start at the "Big Stump" then work our way around marveling at the huge trees. Then it was lunch time, we drove down to Murphys where we had lunch at the historic Murphy Hotel. After lunch we head over to Moaning Caverns but to our disaapointment there was a huge group of Boys Scouts scheduled to rappel down the cave and it would have taken a long time. So, we decided to head on to our next stop and try the cave on another trip. Our next stop was Columbia Historic Park which is reminiscent of the Gold Era days. We toured the quaint little town in the now over 100 degree weather. Afterwards we drove down to Sonora for a quick stop to see their famed Red church, and then onto Jamestown historic "Railtown" where we rode the last steam train tour (3pm). We were not originally planning to do this ride, but since we missed out on our cave tour we decided to take the ride. After we disembarked the train, it was back in our car and drive uphill to Groveland. We make a short stop to see the Saloon before heading to my cousin Nestor's home in Pine Mountain Lake. We were a little early so we decided to hit the beach were we took a dip to refresh ourselves after a long day in 100+ degree weather. It was great catching up with Nestor, and he prepared a gourmet dinner for us (he's a chef). The cabin was exactly the same since I was there last, in 1992.

Click the following names for more information on the places we've seen and visited:
Calaveras Big Trees
Murphys, California
Murphys Hotel (for lunch)
Columbia Historic Park, Columbia, California
Sonora, California
Railtown in Jamestown, California
Groveland, California
Pine Mountain Lake

Downtown Angels camp with 'clothes' hanging over the streets.

The famed Jumping Frog contest was happening this weekend.

The Giant Stump at Calaveras Big Trees State Park.

This was once the largest tree in the grove but the miners in the 1800's had to chop it down.

The massive root structure of a fallen sequoia tree.

One of the over 300 foot sequoia trees in this large grove.

The path meanders through some fallen trees.

You were once able to 'drive' through this tree in the 1800s, this tree is still alive dispite the huge hole.

Toby by a tree.

We have lunch at the historic Murphy Hotel in the town of Murphys

Columbia Historic Park.

Columbia Historic Park is kept up as if you were back in the Gold Rush era.

Wells Fargo was a big bank during the Gold Rush.

The famed red church in Sonora.

Alan getting ready for our 3pm train ride in Jamestown's historic Railtown park.

Toby awaits to board the train.

We sit in one of the cabins, trying to stay cool in the 100+ weather.

It was noticably cooler in Groveland. Here by the famous Iron Door Saloon.

Nestor's home in Pine Mountain Lake. The last time I was here was in 1992. We use to come up here often in the 1980s.

Inside the cabin, and a closeup of one of my drawings done back in 1982! There was a stack of old drawings dating back from the early 80s.

Alan and Nestor.

We go for a swim in Pine Mountain Lake.



Monday, May 19:
Monday morning, Nestor left for work early, and we too left early around 8am to head toward Yosemite. We arrive at the park a little after 9am to absolutely perfectly clear conditions. Upon our approach to the park we notice that the Merced River was raging with full force and fast. That was a good sign for viewing waterfalls. We first stop off at Bridalveil Falls where we hike up to the base of the falls. Huge amounts of water were cascading over the falls creating a large mist cloud that dampened us in the shade. As we drove deeper into the valley, we noticed that ALL the falls were cascading into the valley at full force. We stopped to see Ribbon Fall and El Capitan before parking our car at the day lot by Yosemite Village. We hiked over to Yosemite Falls and to the base were we were again greeted with a full wet mist from the lower falls spray. We then headed out toward Swinging Bridge (that doesn't swing) past one of the many lush green meadows. The large amount of snow run off created many still ponds of water around the meadows creating wonderful reflective pools for some fantastic photographic opportunities. We had a quick burger to eat at the Deli before taking the shuttle to Happy Island to begin our hike up the Mist Trail. We hike along the very wet and dampening trail (now we understand why it's called the Mist Trail). We were soaked by the time we reached the top of Vernal falls (over 1,000 foot ascent). We relaxed by the roaring water drying off quickly in the hot air. I was amazed by the speed and force of the water at Silver Apron just above Vernal Falls, where the water roars horizontally over the flat granite. We hike over the bridge toward Nevada Falls where we stop and relax in the clearning of the old Snow Lodge. Once we were fully rested we head down the slippery Mist Trail toward Happy Island Nature Center. We then board the tram over to the Ahwahnee Hotel were we tour the lobby and surrouding grounds. We then shop at the Visitors Center before hitting the road. The park was undergoing massive road repair and the Northside Drive by El Capitan was closed. We could not stop by the viewpoint where Toby's family took their riverside picture of Bridalveil Falls, oh well next time. We make a quick stop at Tunnel View vista point for that quintessential photo of Yosemite. Is was a long day, full of great sites and spectacular scenery, now it was time to rest. We drive to El Portal just outside the park along the Merced River where we check into the Yosemite View Lodge and then later have a good steak dinner at the lodge.

Click the following names for more information on the places we've seen and visited:
Yosemite National Park (offical website)
Yosemite Park
Yosemite View Lodge in El Portal

Bridalveil Falls
El Capitan
Yosemite Falls
Swinging Bridge
Shuttle to Happy Isle for Mist Trail
Mist Trail to Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls
Shuttle to Ahwahnee Hotel

We encounter many deer on our trip, this one just outside the cabin.

Our first waterfall, Cascade Falls just outside the valley.

Toby getting misted at Bridalveil falls.

Ribbon Falls by the looming shadow of El Capitan.

The unbelievable massive granite wall of El Captian.

A view of Bridalveil Falls from the road.

Yosemite Falls by the former site of Ansel Adams home.

Alan and Yosemite Falls.

Getting misted at the foot of the Lower Yosemite Falls.

An incredible valleyview from one of the many marshes / meadows.

We couldn't believe how beautiful everything was.

A spectacular view of Yosemite Falls from Swinging Bridge.

Alan and Toby on Swinging Bridge.

A too perfect view of Yosemite Falls.

A mirror view of the Falls.

Toby and Yosemite Falls.

Alan and the Falls.

One of the many boardwalks that covered the marshy meadows.

Many of the meadows were 'flooded' with all recent the snow melt

Our hike up the Mist Trail, Illoliuette Falls in the background.

The wet and steep steps up toward Vernal Falls.

Toby getting drenched from Vernal Falls mist.

At the top of Vernal Falls, over 300 feet drop.

Resting by the Merced river by Emerald Pool and the Silver Apron.

We rest and 'dry off' before continuing on our hike to Nevada Falls.

The Silver Apron portion of the Merced River was flowing incredibly fast

The Merced River rushes underneath the bridge which leads to Nevada Falls.

The over 600 foot Nevada Falls.

The spend some time resting, recouping and drying off.

A view looking back at Vernal Falls.

The grounds around the historic Ahwahnee Hotel.

In the lobby of the Ahwahnee Hotel.

Half Dome in the afternoon sun.

Toby at Tunnel View on the road to Wawona.

Alan at Tunnel View.

Alan's "Ansel Adam" inspired photo.


Tuesday, May 20:
We wake up early fully rested for our last day in Yosemite, we head back into the park making a quick stop at Valley View vista point on our way up to Glacier Point. An hour later we reach our first stop, Washburn Point, which is over 3,000 feet above the valley floor. This vista had a great view of the Merced River, Half Dome, Vernal and Nevada Falls. Then we drive toward the spectacular Glacier Point for unbelieveable views of the valley. You can marvel at Yosemite Falls all the way past Half Dome up Tenaya canyon. The edge of the vista piont is about 3,200 feet above the valley floor, but with a solid secure wall to protect you. We were hungry so we ate a wrap at the gift shop before heading toward our hike. We drove to Sentinel Dome/Taft Point and started our hke up to Sentinel Dome. The easy hike led us up 380 feet to the top of a snowy Sentinel Dome which is over 8,100 feet high, second only to Half Dome's 8,800 elevation around the valley. From this dome you have an uninterrupted 360 degree view of the park. The famed Ansel Adam pine tree is still at the top of the Dome, however it's not just a skeleton. After Sentinal Dome we hike to the vertigo inducing Taft Point which is over 3,500 feet straight down into the valley, with only a thin metal rail between you and instant death. This plateau has deep fissures in the rock which extend down hundreds of feet. We get disoriented on our hike back since most of the trail to Taft Point was covered in melting snow and wide streams. Eventually we find the road which led us back to our car. We then head toward the southern part of the park to Wawona where we visit the Pioneer Village and historic Wawona Hotel. After purchasing some refreshments we drive over to the Mariposa Grove of massive Sequoia trees. We head over to the large Grizzly Giant tree, this massive tree is the fifth largest organism on the planet. This was also the tree the Murphy kids took a family portrait in the 1970s. Once again, it was a full day of sites and spectacular scenery, but now it was time to head home, we leave the park before 6pm and headed back toward the Bay Area via 41 through Oakhurst and on toward 152 to 101.

We had a great time, and would love to come back for some more beautiful scenery and awe inspiring hikes

Click the following names for more information on the places we've seen and visited:

Bridalveil Falls
El Capitan
Yosemite Falls
Swinging Bridge
Shuttle to Happy Isle for Mist Trail
Mist Trail to Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls
Shuttle to Ahwahnee Hotel

We stop at Tunnel View in the early morning on our drive to Glacier Point.

The view from Washburn Point.

Vernal and Nevada Falls from Washburn Point.

Toby perched high above the Yosemite valley.

Alan at Glacier Point.

The view of Yosemite Valley from Glacier Point.

A panoramic view looking east from Washburn Point.

A panoramic view from Glacier Point. You can see the Yosemite Falls and Half Dome from this spectacular view point.


Alan 3,200 feet above the valley floor.

Half Dome in the background.

Every view was fantastic from Glacier Point.

Detailed view of the entire Yosemite Falls.

Close up of Vernal Falls and the minute people by the edge.

Toby near the summit of Sentinel Dome.

A panoramic view of Yosemite Valley from the base of Sentinel Dome.

A sweeping vista panoramic view from the top of Sentinel Dome, 8,100 feet high.


Yosemite Falls far below from Sentinel Dome

Remains of the old Ansel Adams pine tree.

Toby and Alan with El Capitan in the background.

Toby up high on Sentinel Dome.

Fwee! We had to do our jumping photo high on Sentinel Dome.

Alan jumping for joy!

A local points out views to Toby, she lives in the park half of the year.

At this elevation, there is snow in patches all over the place, even on the dome.

Half Dome almost eye level from the view point.

Yosemite Falls sandwiched between to trees from Sentinel Dome.

The scary promitory of Taft Point.

Alan getting vertigo at the very edge of Taft Point, 3,500 feet straight down!

Toby at the very edge of Taft Point.

The Taft Fissures are hundreds of feet deep cracks in the rock.

A vertical panoramic view from Taft Point.

The pioneer village by the town of Wawona.

The historic Wawona Hotel.

The interior of the Wawona Hotel.

The massive root structure of a fallen Sequoia tree.

The Grizzly Giant sequoia tree of Mariposa Grove.

The Grizzley is the 5th largest organism on the planet.

Deers in the forest of Mariposa Grove.

Toby by the tree where his siblings took a photo back in the early 1970s.

The Ansel Adam tree on Sentinel Dome.