More than a year ago, a chance encounter with a sociable couple at a crossroads on a hiking trail in northern California led me to formulate a plan: a full moon hike along the Glacier Point road in Yosemite National Park at 8.000 ft. elevation. Our target: Sentinel Dome. Our plan: Hike to the dome (just 2.2 miles round trip) late in the day, taking along a picnic dinner. Watch the sunset as we enjoyed our picnic, then lounge around on top of the dome while the full moon rose. Hike the short distance back to the car in the moonlight. Woohoo… fun!
The hilly, winding drive into Yosemite is not for Scoopy, so Part Two of the plan involved reserving accommodations in the park – we didn’t fancy a long, post-hike drive. My mom and dad hadn’t been to Yosemite for quite awhile, so we rented a cabin, big enough for four people, at Yosemite West, an enclave of private homes just outside the park boundary, accessible only from the park. We liked the idea of having a kitchen and plenty of room to spread out. A big bonus: the access road to the rental cabin was only 1/4 mile from Glacier Point road in Yosemite.
The final piece of the plan was to determine the dates of the full moon in October, a perfect month for this sort of adventure: the weather is likely to be mild and dry, snow would not yet have closed Glacier Point Road, and the summer crowds would be long gone. The dates in 2010: October 23rd and 24th – a weekend! As retired folk, it would have made more sense to visit during the week, but Mother Nature has her own schedule and, since the full moon was key our planning, we reserved our cabin for the weekend.
Thus, early last August, our reservations were made and our plan complete.
The weeks leading up to October 23 and 24 were sunny and mild. Monday, October 25 (the day we returned home), was lovely, crisp and clear. The weekend? A complete and total washout, with some of the heaviest rain Yosemite has experienced all year! Peeking out our window at the pouring rain (and heavy wind) on Sunday night – our date with Sentinel Dome – we caught not even a HINT of the huge October full moon… up there somewhere, hidden behind the think and sodden clouds.
After spending Saturday afternoon and evening indoors – while light rain fell outdoors – Odel and I dressed for wet conditions on Sunday, grabbed umbrellas, and headed back to the valley for a long walk in the rain. By this time, after twelve hours of rain, Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls had picked up considerable water, and the Merced River was nudging well up into the grassy meadow along its banks.
We got home just as the real downpour started, pretty well soaked. That night, the night of the planned hike? It POURED! Even the luxurious cabin we rented sprang a leak!
Monday was our day of departure, and we awoke to calm and quiet. The remaining clouds cleared as the sun rose, and we headed back down through Yosemite Valley in bright sunshine.
Thanks to the heavy rains, Yosemite’s famous waterfalls were booming, sending up huge clouds of spray. The Merced River was a tumultuous tumble of whitewater, overflowing its banks onto the meadow boardwalk Odel and I had hiked 24 hours earlier. It was MAGNIFICENT, awe-inspiring!
After an overpriced lunch at the beautiful, historic Ahwahnee Lodge and one last walk in the welcome sunshine, we reluctantly left the valley and headed back to Sacramento. While our plan was a bust, we had a good time - lots of weekend football, a challenging jigsaw puzzle, and more than enough delicious food. As for the full moon – there’s always next year!
|Damp face of El Capitan steams in the sunshine.|
Odel, Bev (Mommy), Bill (Daddy).