|Bodie, California 1877-1942|
|The church was my favorite building|
The following day in Yosemite I climbed Cathedral Peak. At 10,911ft, it was first climbed by John Muir in 1869. It was great to follow in his footsteps, but not literally, because I misread my trail directions and had to do a little bushwhacking to get back on track. It was far easier to travel off trail here than in the Cascades, there was a minimum of underbrush and lots of open granite slabs. Whilst off trail I kept hearing weird sounds, like a jet engine. Then I saw smoke and quickly realized that I had stumbled upon the fringe of the last bit of forest fire that had ripped thru a large part of the central part of the National Park a few days earlier. I've never seen a forest fire before. It was very unnerving and I backed away and figured out what to do. NPS was aware of the small zones still burning, said they posed little immediate hazard, hadn't closed Cathedral Peak like they closed other areas, I wasn't near where I was supposed to be, and the winds were blowing the fire away from where I needed to go. Right or wrong, I decided to continue.
|Cathedral Peak on the evening before the climb|
|Only YOU can prevent forest fires!|
|Route went thru the pines up and underneath the base, then essentially traversed up the right skyline|
I returned from the climb, never again seeing any indications of fire danger, in plenty of time to spend the afternoon with Ma. We took a nice hike thru the Tuolumne Meadows.
Our final day in Yosemite was spent in the infamous Valley. We knew it was a popular spot but figured that with it being so late in the season and a weekday we would have the place to ourselves. WRONG. The Valley was a total zoo. We saw all the requisite sights, then headed out and away on the drive up to Glacier Point for epic views of Half Dome.
After Yosemite we drove to Kings Canyon National Park. Talk about a great contrast, Kings Canyon was practically empty. Call me selfish but I don't like big crowds when I go outside. Camping and hiking along the upper reaches of the Kings River was the highlight of the whole trip with Mom. Zumwalt Meadows were beautiful in the morning light, with a golden tinge on the grasses, forests, Kings River, and the granite walls hemming it all in.
|Zumwalt Meadows, Kings Canyon National Park|
|An "average" sequoia tree. Note people in white|
|The General Sherman, the largest living thing on Planet Earth (besides my beard)|
|Lowest spot in North America. A counterpoint to all my mountaineering this summer!|
|Dantes View of Death Valley|
After so much time in the parks and wilderness, the drive into Las Vegas was a culture shock. I've never seen so many lights and so much blatant consumerism and excess. Not a place I'd choose to frequent but I'm happy to have seen the sights. Like New York City, Vegas seems a mandatory trip for all true 'Muricans at some point in their life. To show that this mountain man can hang with the high rollers, I employed the "$20 trick" at the front desk. What's the $20 trick you ask? Well, just slip the clerk a $20 with your credit card and ID when you check in and ask for any complimentary upgrades. We went from a regular economy room to a room with a Strip View. Like a boss!