Day Fourteen: Saturday, June 2nd, Finishing Up at Yosemite

Against Half Dome

It was predicted to be (and was!) a hot one out there today, nearing 90, so we went into the day knowing that no hiking would be done if the matriarch (that’s me) was to survive.

Auto Tour Day.

The main attractions left on our Yosemite list fit the bill perfectly: Glacier Point and Tioga Road, both up different sides of the Valley. We set a course for Glacier Point right out of the gates.

4,000 insanely winding miles down the road, and finally someone gets carsick.

Looking back from here, it is shocking that we’ve made it this far without anyone groaning in misery, but we did. The streak ended this morning.

Something about the atmosphere and the alignment of the stars on the way up to Glacier Point pushed Emily’s internal gyrotron to the edge. Halfway up the mountain she was one sick cookie. Thankfully, we were close, and a few well-placed pull-outs gave her a little respite from the roller-coaster that is the $900 van.

Also thankfully, motion sickness generally subsides when the motion comes to a halt. She made it.

Overhang Rock, Glacier Point

Glacier Point is the iconic Yosemite landmark where tourists have been taking their lives into their own hands to peacock for the cameras for well-over a century. Two Yosemite waitresses live on forever on the faces of books and postcards for their familiar acrobatics out on the narrow jut. In 1916, Studebaker even drove one of their own out on the overhang for an advertisement.

The Overhanging Rock flaunts itself 3,200 feet above the Valley floor. The upside is you wouldn’t feel a thing if you made a misstep. If your heart didn’t give out in terror, you’d have a full twenty-five seconds, though, to contemplate the mysteries of the Universe, and your own spectacular decisions.

The rock at this point in history is, of course, off limits. The people, of course, don’t care. We were up there at the overlook for less than an hour and at least one dumb white guy jumped the fence to get his Kodak moment.

I can’t say as I blame him. I kind of wanted to.

Half Dome from behind

IMG_20180602_094617.jpgThe view from Glacier Point is beyond spectacular. Everything is so massive and so tiny, all at the same time. It is a real trick of the senses.

By the time our tour of the top was complete, I was beginning to swelter. When we got back to the van, it assured me it was only, thus far, 70. Apparently we had found a rip in the ozone layer where 70 was instantly transformed into 106. I was baked.

No Hiking Day confirmed.

In the past few days, the temperatures back at camp were unpleasant, yet down on the Valley floor things were tolerable. It is another trick. You feel like you drop thousands of feet into the Valley because when you drop in, you immediately forget all the climbing you did to get to the top. In reality, camp sits at ~3,000 feet, and the Valley floor ~4,000. It is that thousand feet (and the illusion that it is actually a negative thousand feet) that make the temperatures seem to act against the laws of nature.

We didn’t know this this morning when we were melting at 70. Correction: We didn’t get it this morning. All of our internal gyrotrons were a bit off. Regardless, in fear of the heat, we momentarily contemplated hanging out on the floor for the day, where it would be cooler.

Ummm… no.

Thankfully, we really wanted to see Tioga Road, and we agreed that as long as Em’s stomach wasn’t doing acrobatics when we made it down, we’d keep right on trucking back up the other side and see what Tioga had to offer.

Olmstead Point, Tioga Road

Smart move. Correction: Fortunate move. The higher we climbed, the more the thermometer plummeted. As it should be. All was once again right with the world. We leveled out at 65, and I, for one, breathed a little easier.

I do not do heat.

Also, Tioga was gorgeous. We pulled off at Olmstead Point to take in the views and admire the granite (wow), Lake Tenaya to dip our feet (wow), and Tioga Pass to say we made it (elev. 9945′ – wow).

Lake Tenaya, Tioga Road

That last part may not have been the smartest for Sarah’s sensitive ears, but we had a few leftover Jolly Ranchers to pull her through the pressure and the pain of our stupidity. Hopefully she’ll be fine by morning.

Reason to panic

We also passed an unfortunate Land Rover that lost his brakes on the switchbacks. He crossed the oncoming lane of traffic, opting for an abrupt stop on the jagged inside shoulder, rather than careening off the outside. Wise. He lost a wheel and axle, but I like to think he deemed it a better sacrifice than the alternative.


The roads on this trip have tested my guts. Narrow, winding, steep, with generally no guardrail, or anything resembling a barrier, to speak of. Six inch shoulders. Often a complete lack of speed limit.

I don’t mind so much when I’m the one at the wheel, with full knowledge of the last time I checked my brakes, and how often and hard I’m using those brakes versus downshifting. But when I’m the passenger, I’m a little anxious. Let’s just say the Land Rover gave me a little extra helping of justification in my ‘checking in’ on our driver. I’m sure he appreciated my extra efforts.

Back to camp by 5 tonight. Hotter than an oven up on our sheer plateau. It was time to do the preliminary packing, but some lengthy swimming was going to have to happen first.

Last night another wave of campers scaled the ‘road’ into tenter’s paradise. All night long. Flying rocks, tires desperately seeking purchase in a loose landslide of gravel, overly-boisterous foreign folks setting up camp by the headlights of their rental vehicles. I didn’t sleep as well as I could have. I hope, tonight being Saturday, we’ll be spared more latecomers. The f-bombing gentlemen in the yurt down the way should provide more than enough ambient noise.

Saying goodbye is such sweet sorrow,

The Whole Enchilada:

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