The second day of our trip and we are up early and feeling excited. We will leave the campground and enter the park as the sun brings light to the sky. I will eat some cottage cheese and strawberries for some energy to start the day. This will be my second time entering the park from this side and there is so much to stop and see when it’s not raining. We will see a fisherman set up on the dam as we make our way deeper into the park.
Caleb is just as amazed as I was to learn that Yosemite consists of more than a field with Half Dome in the middle. I’m happy to show him the same rocks and lakes and cliffs and trees and falls that I saw, but this time there will be a slight trickle where there was running water two months ago except for two waterfalls seen from Glacier Point. The strength of the falls depends on the snowpack during the winter – and this was a dry one. It’s also near the end of summer here and the temperatures are low. I’m sure more snow is on its way soon.
We have decided to focus on a hike to Taft Point as our main to-do of the day. This means driving partially down Granite Point Road – a sixteen mile drive found off the main road, and on the way will be a stop in the valley. Along the two-lane one-way road is a great place to stop and walk along a skinny path that takes you to mosquito infested water with a great reflection of the mountains. Piggy gets over excited, and being unleashed, makes her way over a six-foot muddy embankment.
We call out to her, but her blindness and eagerness prove too powerful and soon she is gone and heading towards the water. Caleb will hand me his sunglasses as he jumps down after her. I keep Sparky from joining the mud brigade and soon Piggy is rescued and we are back at the car with a wet wipe cleaning the dirt from her feet. Caleb checks for wounds, but I’m assured she’s ok because I heard no cries of pain. We will be keeping a better eye on her.
We park at the store parking lot, make me a sandwich, water the dogs, and walk to the visitor center. It’s not open yet, but is on our way out, so we will enjoy the rest of the park and come back. We park on the steep roadside leading to the trailhead to join the crowds of others that are enticed by the rocks that let your feet dangle over trees a hundred feet below. A little over a mile later in 80 degree weather, with the dogs parked in the shade, and we are getting close to the edge.
A girl cautions her husband on his braveness and I think of how my dad feels when I get close to deathly heights; she reminds him that she still wants kids. Already on Glacier Point Road we can’t not drive to the end to see the view from there – and especially the Half Dome hikers via the telescope provided. There is a line of children upon our arrival, but Caleb agrees the wait was worth it to see all the little ants that clambered up the trophy hill to take home their bragging rights.
We drive back into the valley, park along the fence in the large lot, and walk to the visitor center to get my passport book stamped. Leaving the park this time in daylight allows me to enjoy the different angled views that the switch-backed road has to offer; and to notice a sign near Angels Camp for the Mark Twain Cabin that was first built in 1922. It’s near here that Twain would get the inspiration for his story, The Celebrated Jumping Frog, that would be his first national success.
Large frogs can be seen in Angels Camp jumping over a hydrant, riding a bike, and shining in the sun. Every May there is an official competition and in Utica Park there is a life-size statue of Twain himself that was dedicated to the city in 1944. We drive through Stockton and take the 16 and 20 west to Brannan Island SRA. We are able to set up as the sun falls below the horizon. There is a party across the water at an available cabin, but it’s quiet under the tree at site 123 after a 317 mile day.