Michael, Lara and I had an impulsive brainstorm that we could somehow find a way to camp overnight in Yosemite Valley without a reservation. We spent the morning making an effort to be put on a waiting list and then drove over to the one available spot to park in order to hike up to Mirror Lake.
Once we parked the RV and piled out, the three of us crossed the gorgeous meadow over the lovely boardwalk and headed to the lake. Callie stayed behind in the RV and took a much-needed nap. All the fun and excitement of travel takes it out of her, and the chance to get some sleep mid-morning is a treat for her.
Leaving her safely behind, we meandered along Tenaya Creek and I spent a couple of hours taking photographs and walking through the woods with Lara and Michael. It was a beautiful, crisp afternoon, and because Mirror Lake is no longer dredged and pillaged for its ice like it was in the past, it is more of a puddle than a lake. I was still able to capture incredible, reflective images in spite of the low water level, and felt that the hike was more than worth it.
The view was incredible, with light and shadow passing over the rock formations and changing dramatically with each minute. The leaves on the broadleaf trees were just starting to turn golden in color, and there was a hint of autumn in the air. The path is paved and cyclists can now bike up to a parking area before walking the rest of the way to the lake. Rental bikes are available and a lot of people took advantage of the opportunity.
Once we returned to the RV and made an effort to see more of the Valley, we were entangled in one traffic jam after another. Michael was never able to find a place to park after that, and we decided collectively to head over to Lee Vinning and find a camping site at Mono Lake. Little did I know that Tioga Pass was experiencing an early, fall blizzard and that Callie was going to be able to watch the snow blow past on the dash. She didn’t know whether to be excited or freaked out as the windshield wipers were activated.
In spite of the crowds in Yosemite, it is still a beautiful place to visit. I recommend taking the time to get a reservation though, and I don’t recommend driving an RV around. Take advantage of the numerous shuttles that are available and plan a long day of exploring. It was just too difficult this time to find a place to park, and maneuvering the RV from one spot to the next, became a chore! Fortunately, Michael, Callie had I had visited the valley last summer and didn’t feel too disappointed, and Lara was a good sport about it and didn’t complain.