Page 2 - Two weeks of car camping in the Yosemite area
July 17 - 31, 2002 

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The next morning we decided to visit Bristlecone National Monument as Mount Whitney was obscured by the forest fires in the Western Sierras. At 10,000 feet in this harsh dry environment are the oldest living things on the earth.  Some of these trees are nearly 5,000 years old and there are dead ones dating back to about 8,000 years.  More information.
During extremely difficult years, most of these tree's bark dies leaving just a thin strip up the side of the wood.  Soil erosion exposes the roots so the root's underside grows downward to try and maintain soil contact.  Betty is pointing to the ring on the tree's root where Christ was born - 2000 years ago.  This tree is well over 3,000 years old and still living.
That night we camped about 5 miles outside the Monument at an elevation of around 9,000 feet.  The forest fire in Lake Isabella (South of Mt. Whitney) made the sun blood red and the air smoky.  Fine ash fell on our tent.
Returning to Yosemite, we found Keough Hot Ditch. It's a series of hot spring pools 8 miles South of Bishop.  We both took a refreshing hot bath and did our laundry (without soap of course).  Water temperature in our private pool was in the 90's.
We'd been tent camping now for a week and returned to Yosemite for a few days to meet a group from church.  We stayed in the Upper Pines campground.  Someone referred to this as the "ghetto" with lots of noise, smoky fires even though it was 95 degrees and humid, and dust.  We were by the restroom!
In Yosemite's Village, the only frozen yogurt shop was gone so we purchased a quart of Dryer's ice cream and a bottle of Hershey chocolate syrup.  We sure got lots of stares as people passed by while we enjoyed our lunch.  Yes - we did finish the whole thing!
The reservation system in Yosemite is awful.  We spent 3-hours using two phones and continuously redialing on the first morning reservations could be made for Yosemite.  We only got two nights in two different camp sites.  So the second night we moved to this spot which was near the road, cleaner, and a little quieter.
But the bear problem is very real.  In all our camping, we've never seen a bear nor had any problems until we camped in Yosemite Valley.  At 6:20pm, in broad daylight with lots of people around, this little black bear walked into our camp.  Betty beat on a pan and screamed at the bear.  When others started shouting and moving toward him, he finally - nonchalantly - walked away!
Our church group planned to hike to the top of Half Dome but when we arrived there was a fire.  During the next few days, helicopters would drop water on it but it seemed to continue burning.  We don't know if the hiking trail was finally opened or not.
After 3 days in Yosemite where daytime temperatures were in the mid 90's, we left the valley for the Saddlebag Lake area.  It's just beyond Tioga Pass at an elevation of 10,000 feet.  with temperatures now in the 70's, we stayed two days in this secluded walk-in campsite.
How's this for a view from our "front door"?  Fresh mountain streams, wind gusting through the trees, birds singing, and snow on the nearby mountains.
After relaxing the first day, we took a 2-mile hike across the valley to the snow-lined lakes opposite our campsite.  Betty caught a few small trout for dinner.  We really soaked up  the beauty, solitude, and fresh mountain air.
And after that fresh trout dinner, a warm campfire.
Grizzly bear! - as we drove down the mountain, we saw a huge bear standing in the stream and stopped.  Betty said, "It's a Grizzly!" and I said "Those stupid people are feeding it!"  But then a fellow came to our car and said the women raises them from cubs and they are trained - but she still was feeding the bear with fish on a 3-foot stick.  The bear was huge.
With three days left of our 2-week vacation, we searched for another remote camp site.  South of Yosemite in the Granite Creek area.  Sometimes while exploring these back roads you have to navigate natural obstacles.
Our searching paid off as we found this secluded hunting campsite right by a stream with virtually no mosquitoes!  We stayed here for two days and didn't hear another human sound other than high-flying commercial jets.
Well, our 2 weeks are up and it's time to go home. What a great vacation.  We camped in about 10 different places, saw God's handiwork, and got to "smell the roses."

Wonder how many phone messages are on the answering machine and how much mail is on hold?

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