June 5, 2010

Yosemite - Mariposa Grove Hike

We had planned to head to Mariposa Grove and do a short hike on our camping trip to Yosemite. The Mariposa Grove has a lower and upper grove of Giant Sequoias and is in the southern part of the park. We made the drive from Yosemite Valley to the South Entrance of the park and parked in the nearby small lot. We waited for the free park shuttle to pick us up and take us down the road 2 miles to Mariposa Grove.  We waited with a large crowd of people and when the first bus came through it could only fit 9 people so the rest of us had to wait for the second bus. After about another half an hour or so we made it to the grove. There is a parking lot right at the grove but it fills up early and apparently we didn't arrive early enough this day. There is also a gift/snack shop and restrooms. We had initially planned to do a hike of the Lower Grove and take the tram tour but the ticket office was closed with a sign that said that the tours were not running yet this season due to snow However, we never saw any snow while on our hike. After we realized we weren't going to be able to do the tram tour we grabbed a map and headed down the trail. The trail is all dirt and winds itself across the paved road that the tram uses. The first marked tree we came across was the Fallen Monarch which has been down for centuries. We kept on the trail and soon came to the Bachelor and Three Graces.  This is a group of four Sequoia trees, one large tree surrounded by three smaller ones. We made our way down to the Grizzly Giant which is one of the largest trees in the grove.  The limbs of the Grizzly Giant are huge as well, the largest one being about 7 feet in diameter. We took our obligatory pictures and continued on. We came across a few wet areas on the trail before coming to California Tunnel Tree which was originally cut to let horse drawn carriages pass through. You can walk right through this tree and most people can’t resist the urge to do so, we couldn’t.  Having time to spare we made our way uphill to the Upper Grove to continue on to the museum. It continued uphill with more exposed areas and the day was warming up. Eventually we made it to the museum but to our surprise it was closed. It wasn't just closed for the day but all boarded up from the winter season. It was pretty dissapointing that there had not been a notice somewhere else indicating that the museum was closed. There were restrooms nearby which were partially open. We walked around the area for a few minutes before making our way back. We made our way back through a different trail and passed through Clothespin Tree. Many fires have excavated a hole at the bottom of this Sequoia which have made it resemble a clothespin, of course. Not much further down we came across the Faithful Couple. This is two trees that have grown into each other over the years, now sharing one large trunk. Across the way were two smaller trees that are starting to fuse as well. We continued on downhill under the shade of Sequoias of the lower grove until we got back to the parking lot. After making a quick stop at the gift shop we hopped on the shuttle back to our car. The trail to the museum was all uphill with about 800 feet elevation gain, the trail back down was downhill. Overall we did a 4 mile hike that took us about 2 hours. Although it was a nice hike with views of great Sequoias, it was dissapointing that the tram tour was not operational and the museum was closed. Not sure we will go back to this part of Yosemite.

The Grizzly Giant

The Tunnel Tree

The Museum

The Clothespin Tree