Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Vernal Falls and across Nevada Ely, NV, Tuesday, 09 July 2013 11:15pm

Uncharacteristically, we got up at a reasonable hour, with a minimum of moaning, and set off to Yosemite Valley. We caught our first glimpse of wildlife (a very relaxed deer, sitting by the side of the road) while riding the shuttle over to the beginning of the Vernal Falls hike.

I've done the Vernal Falls hike several times, but it's always beautiful. There's a bridge view that is the end of the "easy" version of the hike, but it makes the base of the falls look so close that it makes it very hard to resist continuing. We reached the top of the falls, and had a look over the edge, and then descended back to about halfway up, where the best views are. There's a persistent double rainbow, and you can see the whole height of the falls and all of the greenery that grows in the mist. We passed many fearless California ground squirrels and some Steller's Jays.

We had lunch in Yosemite Valley (fine, but not remarkable), and then drove out through Tuoloume Meadows. We had bought a water container, since we're about to cross a long stretch of desert (and also just to reduce the number of trips to the pump while we're cooking), and tried to fill it at the visitor center there, but, amazingly, they don't have a spigot. More than making up for that, on our way out of the parking lot, a peregrine falcon flew right in front of us.

We overstayed our scheduled time in Yosemite, so we gave a call to the campground we were scheduled to stay at next and made sure it wouldn't be a problem for us to arrive late. As we descended out of Yosemite into Nevada, the terrain changed from a mountainous forest to a flat desert. The evergreens gave way to sagebrush. We stopped for dinner in the town of Tonopah, the last place to buy food for a hundred miles. Even there, it was a challenge. The first two places we tried were closed, permanently or temporarily. We ended up eating at a hotel restaurant, decorated with signed checks from various famous visitors from over the years, from Angela Lansbury to Jamie Lee Curtis.

Next we did three hours of driving along an empty highway. Occasionally we'd pass a few buildings, but no real services. As night fell, rabbits started darting across the road, and we saw a skunk. We pulled in to the campground at about 11pm, and barely got our tent set up before we fell asleep.