Alex woke to a colorful sunrise on the Nevada mountains outside the car windows, and roused a sleepy Dave so that we could continue on to Yosemite! The drive today was much more pleasant with pretty views and rolly hills that made Alex squeal as Dave drove over them.
Just inside California, we had to stop at an Agricultural Inspection Station. We weren’t really sure what to expect, and we were the only ones there. A uniformed lady asked us if we had any produce in the car. “Ummm… some apples.” She asked where they were from…. “Hmmm… we bought them… in Utah…. Or hmm..…. OH yeah! In Laramie, WY!” Her frown when we said Utah had us both prepared to eat the three remaining apples. It turned out they were Washington apples, so we could keep them. The apples didn’t make it more than a few minutes down the road anyways! :o)
Around 9:30/10:00 AM we arrived at the Mobile Station, just outside of the Tioga Pass entrance to Yosemite. We had heard of this place before, it is a gas station and so much more! They serve legit, freshly made food on REAL plates and have nice grassy areas to enjoy outside. Rumor is they even have live music on some evenings. Though we were right outside the park entrance, we took the time to eat a decent meal… delicious breakfast burritos and coffee. We had lacked quality coffee since we left Wisconsin, so this was exciting!
We drove into the park entrance, and drove you what seemed like forever. Though the roads were beautiful, we were full of eagerness and anticipation to see The Valley. We have been dreaming of seeing (and climbing) those granite walls for so long. The road began to drop in elevation. We are getting close! OOOH!!! There’s Half Dome! A quick sneak peak appeared around a bend in the road. We were giddy like children on Christmas morning.
We drove through the Valley getting quick glances of El Cap through the trees as we strained our neck to see the tops of the walls surrounding us. Eventually we found a place to park in the busy Valley floor. We made a stop at the Visitor Center and Wilderness Center to buy some maps.
Next on our to do list was go touch El Cap and take some pictures in the meadow below it. We moved our car to a lot shaded by sequoias, near a trail sign that read “0.3 miles to El Cap.” As we eagerly scurried towards the granite face, we ran into another couple head the same way and struck up conversation.
“Are you going to El Cap?”
“Yep!…… Are you going to touch it?”
We made our way to the base of the wall, and touched it of course! Then not satisfied that we had not found the base of The Nose we scampered off to find it. After a little searching we found the spot that looked right…. And we later confirmed with our guidebook that we had the right spot. We took some pictures before heading back to the car to find our camping area for the night.
We knew that dispersed camping was available outside the park, but it is one of those things that is little spoken of. The key is knowing your camping and National Forest regulations. After over two hours of searching and driving in and out of a few park entrances we found our spot! We relaxed for a while, looking over guidebooks and making plans on where to climb the next morning, before settling in to sleep for the night.