Drug Smugglers and Helpful Slavs at Yosemite

Chris - Saturday October 25, 2014

Yosemite was probably the park we researched the least  (I even would always call it Yellowstone by mistake, confusing and annoying Trischa), but on our first night we drove into valley at dusk and were blown away by the view.  I guess majesty fatique has worn off.

Yosemite is known for its waterfalls - which you've likely seen in an Ansel Adams photo - including Yosimte falls, the highest in North America.  While in spring these iconic chutes gush like giant faucets, by Autumn the flows has been turned down to a trickle or off entirely.

Here's my shot of Nevada Falls against Ansel's:

Speaking of Nevada: When we left for this trip, my mom, who is a librarian, gave us a box of old books for reading material.  Among these was the murder mystery thriller "Blind Decent" by Nevada Barr, in which National Parks Ranger Anna Pigeon must rescue an injured friend trapped in the caves of Carlsbad Cavern Park, only to discovery that her friend's injury was no accident.  It turns out that in whatever National Anna Pigeon goes to someone is getting murdered. Trischa was immediately hooked on this series and fortunately you can find one of them at pretty much any Goodwill you go to.

 

Before getting to Yosemite, she read the 2004 page turner "High Country" in which Anna goes undercover in Yosemite to nab some murderous drug smugglers (get it High Country?).  

Anyway, this trip was like a book tour for Trischa.  Everywhere we went she would point out a scene from the book.  "That lodge is where Anna pretended to be a waitress", "That camp is where she found the bloody pick axe", "That's the waterfall where she escaped the crazy bearded murder by lighting him on fire and then rode his corpse like a toboggan over the falls to safety".  I recommend, next time you visit one of this countries iconic parks or national monuments you pick up the corresponding Barr book, they give you a really interesting insight into how seedy these places really are. 

Along with murderers, Yosemite is teaming with rock climbers, who can be seen dangling from the face of El Capitan peak year round.  A Park Ranger explained to us that climbers take anywhere from 2 hours to several days to ascend the 3000 foot wall, sleeping suspended in a cocoon floating out in space, carrying over a hundred pounds of gear, water and supplies, and pooping in a bag.

Climber through a telescope.

El Capitan

While none of that sounded appealing to me, I did want to see the view from the top, so I took the easier route, a 9 mile hike up switchbacks to the top of El Capitan. When I got down and was waiting for Trischa my wallet fell out, and when we came back to look for it there was a big eastern European family standing near by. As I started looking around, Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa and half a dozen kids turned, pointing at me excitedly. "Hey guy! Hey guy!" said Grandpa. They had found my wallet and had noticed me from my drivers license.  They were all smiles and hugs and it was the nicest thing that has ever happened to us at a National Park.

Up next we hit Los Angeles and then three weeks on the beach in Baja Mexico. Stay tuned, Trischa has a post about this coming soon.

Trischa made some duck friends!!

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