We have made it to the valley proper and so far have been loving every second…well almost every second.
Our first night here was a little rough but that is kind of a rite of passage for first time valley goers. Let me explain.
The valley is notorious for being strict on enforcing rules. From speeding to overnight parking to camping you definitely want to play by the book to avoid getting really costly tickets. Prior to arriving JJ and I had heard more than a few stories talking about how relentless the law enforcement here is and that it leaves you feeling kind of paranoid. I can now attest to this being true first hand. We drove into the valley at about 10 at night a few days ago and weren’t sure where to sleep. The campsite we were trying to get into, Camp 4, is a first come first serve campground and opens at 8:30 for spots. We wanted to get in line the next morning but the parking lot for this campground is permit only so we were afraid to leave the car there and get a few hours of sleep and then hop in line. (You have to get in line a few hours early if you want to get a spot. We got in line at 4:30 in the morning and there were still people in front of us! It has gotten kind of ridiculous but if you want a spot in the cheapest campground in Yosemite you have to play the game.) After much debate we decided we would just try to sleep on the down low for a few hours in the back of our truck and then hop in line, but our plans were quickly dashed. Besides being unable to sleep from feeling paranoid that we were about to get a ticket at any moment, JJ got out to pee at around 11 and saw a ranger shining a flashlight into car windows to see if people were in there/ if they had a parking permit. We quickly hightailed it out of there, wanting to avoid a very costly encounter, and decided to just bite the bullet and camp outside the park for a few hours. It was quite stressful and frustrating and made us not want to even be in the valley. That is the sad truth I think a lot of people like us, climbers and travelers wanting to stay but with little means and money, experience. We can’t pay to stay in the big fancy lodges or drop 100 bucks for an open air, pre-registered campsite every night, so we have to fight to get a spot in the cheapest campground and often that means sleeping at least one night covertly and risking hefty fines. Which sucks because we can’t really afford it! But I digress, we didn’t get a ticket and made it safely out of Yosemite. After pulling off on the side of the road outside the park JJ was so tired, as was I, and just wanted to sleep in and try again the next evening. But I was fed up. It was well past midnight, we had already been kicked out of one sleeping area and had lost many hours of sleep and I was getting rather testy and was NOT willing to spend another night in this state of paranoia. I told JJ he could stay asleep in the back but I would be damned if I wasn’t one of the first in line that morning. Yes, I’ll admit I can be quite stubborn at times. So when the alarm went off at 4 I did exactly what I said I would (mainly because I am too proud to go back on my word; I really would have loved to just stay asleep!) and found myself behind the wheel and driving back into the park, fueled only by my frustration and stubbornness. At least it worked out in our favor. After camping out in the dirt in front of the ranger station for 4 hours we got a campsite and it was definitely worth the wait. It is so nice to be in the park and not have to worry about being fined or ticketed for doing something wrong. We can sleep and park our car and rest assured we have done everything we are supposed to do. And since that first day our trip has been amazing. Yosemite is truly the grandest of the National Parks, at least the ones I have been to. The huge granite cliffs that enclose the valley are magnificent and rise around you like giants. It reminds me of how small I am.
We have been climbing with a friend from Colorado, mainly him and JJ, and it has been a blast. The first day we did a route called Serenity Sons which is an excellent 8 pitch crack climb. It contains probably the best finger crack pitch that I have ever done. SO so good. JJ and Kishen also did The Rostrum and are currently on Astroman as I type this. I am excited to go back up and do both of these with JJ later.
We had originally planned to stay only a week but now I think we are going to stay at least one more. The climbing is too good, the weather too perfect, and the place too beautiful to leave so soon.
(Internet sucks. Will post picture soon)