Last Day at Yosemite – We Should Have Never Left

We found a cool little spot in a park near some meadows (I’m all about the meadows now!) and Nate was my guinea pig for some yoga teaching. We did a serious hour-long session and focused on breathing and stretching our sore muscles. It was kind of cool to teach someone something about what I’ve been learning in my yoga training. Plus it always just feels good to stretch. I’ve held the intention to do a lot of yoga on this trip, but so far it’s proved difficult to fit it in among all the other activities we have going on. Same with blogging, to be honest. I’m enjoying this process but I’ve realized how time-consuming it can be. It often becomes a choice of doing something cool, or setting aside time to write about the cool things I’m doing. Both are worthwhile, but so far the doing of the cool things has taken precedence over the writing, which is the way to go, I think.

After our yoga session, we stopped and caught a few pictures of El Capitan. We had so many serious scenic pics, it felt appropriate to get a bit silly…

Fingerwalking on El Capitan

I move mountains…
Nate chillin with the Cap
We were trying to get out of the park by afternoon and make it out to Camp Tawonga before dark to visit Nate’s cousin, Gabe, but we were addicted to Yosemite. We decided it would be wise to drive out to Glacier Point to check out a view of the park I hadn’t seen (Nate had been there before). It was.

View from Glacier Point

 Nate and I at the top

The falls from Glacier Point:

We even got some more pictures of chipmunks and squirrels!


This one was enjoying the view…


As I am no stranger to these creatures, I found it curious that I kept getting so excited about seeing and photographing them. In my defense, there were some species that were new to me:

After Glacier Point, we decided to head out of Yosemite. It was so hard though; we kept passing things we hadn’t seen yet! Nate wisely pulled off at Bridalveil Falls so we could hike up, as we hadn’t seen a waterfall up close yet. We got really lucky and caught a fabulous view of the waterfall, rainbow and everything.

Bridalveil Falls

We wandered up the rocks a ways to get a closer look. Check it out:

DISCLAIMER: I am about to go on a rant based on my experience with Camp Tawonga. This camp is rumored to be completely awesome. Nate’s cousin, Gabe, speaks very highly about how this camp has positively affected his life. Apparently they tell people to be a vessel, not a dam, which is really cool. So they’re ok with me. But for effect, I must tell the story as I experienced it.

As we were walking back to the car from the waterfall, it was starting to get a bit dark. Oh wait! I forgot to mention that we saw a coyote on the way out! here it is:


We had failed our mission to try and get to Camp Tawonga before dark. It wasn’t that the camp was particularly far away, it’s just that we’d been warned it wasn’t exactly the easiest place to find, which turned out to be true. Nate had some pretty foggy directions to start with, and we got turned around before we even entered the serious backwoods. We stopped at an inn and got some more vague directions, but we had faith we could figure it out. Let me tell you this, Camp Tawonga does NOT want to be found. We got as far as a sign on a little dirt road that said “Tawonga: 2 miles”, and then it was a shitshow. It was a 7 mile stretch of road with no signage whatsoever. In lieu of road signs, there were cows. What looked to be wild cows. In the middle of the road. We passed them several times as we drove up and down the godforsaken backroad looking for any signs of non-cow life. There were none. After a few passes through the stretch of road that we felt had to contain a path to Tawonga (from what we could see, it did not), we drove all the way to the end of the road and ended up at a camp. Nate became visibly excited and insisted that it was Tawonga. I was doubtful. I could sense his certainty stemmed more from a sense of desperation than any real indicators that we were in the right place. We approached the visitor center and Nate asked if we were atCampTawonga. The woman said that we were not and immediately asked if Camp Tawonga was expecting us, as they would not let us in otherwise. This struck me as a red flag. After a moment of hesitation, Nate responded that we were expected. I took this as well as a red flag. Prior to our driving out here, Nate and his cousin had made some plans for us to visit Tawonga. The details of the visit were as vague as our directions and my gut told me that something was amiss. This bad feeling was exacerbated by the directions we got from the woman at the wrong camp. Basically we were told that we should take a left at “the box” on the side of the road. Anytime something is that poorly marked, it’s a pretty strong signal to “stay the hell away”. We forged ahead nonetheless.

We found the camp and Nate enjoyed a brief celebration as we approached the gate. I remained skeptical. Everything about the place screamed “You are not welcome!” Any camp with a huge locked gate and an intercom system feels pretty closed-off to outsiders to me. And we were certainly outsiders. Nate rang up someone on the intercom and told him of our situation. The man responded that Gabe must have forgotten us, because he wasn’t currently on the intercom. A conversation ensued in which Nate asked the man if Gabe was around, and the man said “he’s not sleeping with me!” Ouch. That was a bad sign. This man was apparently sleeping and not at all interested in helping us out. Nate went back and forth with him for awhile and the guy just would not budge. Basically the conversation ended with Nate pleading with the guy to let us in, and the guy saying “No I’m not gonna let you in, I don’t know who ya are!” So that was that. We were out in the middle of nowhere (there were wild cows I tell you!), and left with nowhere to sleep. I knew Nate was debating tossing up the tent wherever was handy, which made me pretty nervous considering that were weren’t too far fromYosemiteand that park seemed to take some serious precautions to prevent bear attacks. We had nothing available to protect us from bears (or hungry cows) out here near Camp Tafuckya, and I was NOT down with camping this far from society. I rang up Anita in San Francisco, who we were headed to see in the morning, and asked if it was cool for us to come that evening. It was, and we decided that was our best bet, pending a refill of the gas tank.

As I said, we were in the middle of nowhere. There have been few times in my life when I have felt so far off the beaten path that it makes me nervous. This was one of those times. We came upon a gas station just off the road to Tawonga, which was fortunate because the low fuel light was on. The gas station was closed, so we had to use our card at the pump. Pump number one was a fail. Pump number two was also a fail. By the time we pulled around to the third pump I knew that we would not be getting gas. Nate was determined to keep trying. After the debacle at the camp, he was visibly frustrated, an emotion that I’m not used to seeing from him. From the passenger seat, I witnessed his frustration come to a head at the faulty gas pumps. He was inserting his card into the gas pump with an anger I’d never seen before in that motion. I couldn’t see his face, but I watched his hand violently shove the card into the slot and rip it out, over and over again with no luck. The hilarity of the situation struck me suddenly and I became hysterical. Nate gave up on the gas and got back into the car, and I couldn’t stop laughing. It was the kind of laughter that borders on a nervous breakdown and you’re not sure whether you’re laughing or crying. But it was mostly laughing, which lightened the mood a bit. After that we shifted gears and were ready to head into the urban jungle. San Francisco, here we come.



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