Tuesday was our final day enjoying Yosemite, but we didn’t expect it to be. Everyone slept in that morning and we had a lazy breakfast before heading out around noon to Tuolumne Grove about 15 minutes away.
Tuolumne Grove is home to some of California’s famous Giant Sequoias. It’s not as famous as Yosemite’s other grove of Sequoias, Mariposa Grove. It’s also not as crowded. There were only a few other people in the grove that afternoon.
The hike down the grove (yeah, down) is only a mile. Once in the grove you can follow several paths through the grove. The paths lead you around the trees and placards with information about the Giant Sequoias. Since I’m a nerd and find the very old trees fascinating, I read all the placards. And then I quoted them to my cousins as #treefacts.
By the time we ended our tour of Tuolumne Grove, the weather had changed. It was cooler and clouds were starting to move in. We had a chilly lunch at the picnic tables and then returned to the campsite.
Dinner back at Hodgdon Meadows was simple (hot dogs cooked on skewers; s’mores) and we got things cleaned up and ready to head out to the Starry, Starry Night free program 15 minutes away. Even though it was cloudy, we hoped the clouds would clear up. I was really looking forward to this program. I did something similar with my family when we visited the Grand Canyon in the early 90s.
Sadly, we never left the campground. It started to rain around 8, a little before we originally planned to leave for the starry night program. The rain never let up. Everyone rushed in to the tents and hoped they would keep out the rain.
They didn’t. Instead, we started to pack up our clothes up in case water seeped in to the tents. Everything was placed in sleeping bags. Adrian and Alexis put away their tent (which they had abandoned the previous night when their inflatable mattress deflated for the second time; they slept in the Durango). Along with De’Shaun and Jen, they were the first ones to abandon the tents for the cars.
Lori, Sean and I (who shared a tent) listened to the heavy rain, watched the flashes of lightning and listened to the thunder. Lori kept worrying about rain seeping in and never sat down. I chilled on the air mattress even though water was already starting to drip in through the seams. We moved the mattress slightly and moved anything we didn’t want to get wet away from the edges.
Lori then went to Nancy, Vanny, Valerie and Junior’s tent to hang out with them. They had some snacks and acted scared of the rain, until they noticed that they wouldn’t be able to sleep in the tents because was water was seeping in.We heard Rene yell that there was a river running through his tent and a lot of scrambling outside.
Everyone abandoned the tents for the cars. Sean and I stayed. I knew I wouldn’t sleep in a crowded SUV. The tent was cold, and the thunder and lightning was scary, but I was still relatively dry. I even slept a little. Sean wasn’t so lucky and got dripped on a little more later in the night. My cousins joked that we were like the old couple in Titanic cuddling on their bunk as the deck flooded, resigned to their fate. At least we didn’t get washed away or had the tent collapse on us.
When we awoke the next morning, it was still raining, but the campsite was no longer full of puddles. Everything was wet, including our firewood. If we were better prepared for the rain, we may have been able to salvage the trip. A couple of umbrellas and emergency ponchos weren’t enough. Junior sadly delivered the news that we’d be packing everything up and heading home a day early.
“Besides, we won’t be able to do much today as all the trails will be wet,” he reasoned.
We worked quickly to get food, clothes and supplies packed. We placed the muddy and wet tents in Junior’s car since there was a plastic cover in the back. Everyone was freezing (it was in the 40s) when we finally checked out and began the trip home. We warmed up in the cars although some us were still in wet clothes.
Although we were all bummed about being rained out, the rain and clouds gave us some more breathtaking views as we drove home.
I’d love to return to Yosemite. There’s so much to see and do that even a 4 day trip would not have been enough. It’s easy to see why it was the first National Park and why you have to plan ahead for reservations. Next time, I’ll prepare for the rain, especially if we go early in the summer.
Several of the photos in this post and the previous Yosemite posts were taken by Sean, my sister Lori or cousin Vanessa. If you’d like to see any more of the photos, just click on any photo and it’ll take you to the Flickr set. Enjoy.