Monday, September 10, 2012

Yosemite Day 3: Hiking; Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias & Soda Springs

Mariposa Grove
So beautiful. And SO tame. We were careful not to get too close though.
Today, after feeling well-rested and relatively bee-sting pain free, we decided to try some hikes. Our family really loves to hike and my hubs has been really good thus far at finding beautiful places to explore (while challenging our stamina to the fullest at times). The first hike he recommended was the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. He had hiked this as a young boy scout, and remembered it fondly. This is the hike that has the Giant Sequoia with a cut-out at the end that cars used to be able to drive through. I admit, I just glanced at the hiking description. It sounded cool to me, and I always love a good hike. I saw something about it being 400 feet, or a mile or something very do-able, and I heartily agreed to the adventure. 

We had to drive to the trailhead, which seemed easy enough. It was not. The maps (we picked up at Yosemite Village) and the little app that I had downloaded  both showed the trailhead somewhere near the intersection of the 41 and Tioga Road. It appeared to be off the 41, so we followed the road, Mr. Storm driving, while I tried to read our very general map and wait for a miracle signal on my useless phone (there is VERY limited service in the park). Anyway, turns out the Grove is off Tioga Rd, just near Crane Flat. So, save yourself some trouble, and take the 41 to Tioga Rd. and head up Tioga Rd, until you see the sign for the turnout which says Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. There will be a turnout with a small parking lot. We finally found it! And found a great parking spot! Yay!

When we got to the trailhead, the kids excitedly read all about the Giant grove. 
We were all really excited to see these trees! So we headed off for the trail. It was a bit steeper than I had envisioned. And it was paved with asphalt. And very steep. Our little guy could barely stay upright and he's two. And he was having a crazy time of it. He was much more antsy than normal. So of course, our 4 year old started acting up too. What the heck? Our kids normally love to hike. So between keeping both of them from falling down the steep hills, and keeping spirits bright, and realizing that I'm old and out of shape, I was EXHAUSTED by the bottom of the hike. Our littlest guy had fallen about 10 times, and everyone was wiped out. We found a nice log, and sat down to take a rest. I didn't even want to think about the rest of this hike (not to mention climbing back UP that darn mountain to the trailhead again). 

So we all sat down. And then we heard a sound. And we looked behind us. Awww...another deer!
We never tired of seeing all of the sweet deer in the park.

Spirits brightened, refreshed with water and some trail mix, we set back out to find these giants. And we did!
Wow, now this is a GIANT tree!! 
L (2) was still acting even crazier than normal, and K (4) was grumpy (not normal for her at all), so it was kind of disappointing, but R was super excited to see the trees, and we all continued on the hike. We finally got to the "tunnel tree!"
Woo-hoo! The tunnel tree. Very beautiful, and so cool to see. See how excited our youngest two kids are?
It was at this point that L said, "mommie, I hafta go poo." Seriously? I mean seriously? He's potty-training, and does not want to use his pull-ups anymore. Arrrggghhh. And we had a mile, basically straight up a mountain to get back to a bathroom and our r.v. So I did what any semi-sane camping mom would do. I found a very quiet tree wayyyyyy off the trail and dug a hole. Even after two years, I sometimes forget that my boy is different than my two older girls. This was one of those times. Without getting too graphic, let's just say I was expecting one thing, and he did another. He peed all over his shorts and all over me. I was not prepared for pee. I didn't have a spare set of clothes. So, I returned to my family with a two-year old in a pull-up and his shirt. Nice. He then yelled across the forest to his dad, "Daddy, I pooped in a hole!" Real nice. Parents of the year here.

So, we started back up the trail. Up the steep, long, hot, hot trail. Me with a semi-naked 30 lb. baby on my shoulders. I couldn't hide his shorts-less body, nor my mothering shame. Meanwhile, K was whining and fussing most of the way up the mountain too. Very weird for her, as she normally loves to hike. R meanwhile, was sprinting back up the mountain. Crazy kid. I was starting to realize that I must have looked at the hike description wrong.

When we finally crested the top of the last hill, we all shouted with joy at the sight of our beloved rv. I was pouring sweat, bee sting site throbbing, and realizing that age must be catching up with me. I could no longer get away with just hiking out of the blue and expecting to do it with ease. As soon as we got to the rv, K stole the bathroom, and took care of business. She emerged radiant, joking, and probably about five pounds lighter. Mystery solved. Apparently our family's happiness and well-being greatly revolves around everyone keeping a regular "schedule." I never said we were normal!

We decided to take a lunch break (another reason I love our rv)! My beloved cranked the a/c while we snacked on delicious turkey & cheese wraps, apples and veggies. Heavenly! Then, he started talking about the second hike he had in mind for us today. What, what??!! Crazy man. He almost had a mutiny on his hands.

He explained that the next hike was a very easy one. I told him I thought this was supposed to be an easy one...only 400 feet or something. Somebody lied to us. Then I looked at the hike description again, "400 feet elevation change" is what it read. Ooops. My bad. The hike is described as a moderate one. I don't think it would have been bad at all if not for the very hot weather, and two poopers. Oh well, it was still very, very fun and gorgeously scenic.

Soda Springs
After explaining that the Soda Springs hike was near Tuolumne Meadows (a short drive away, and a place I'd LOVED on our previous visit) I was sold. I knew we had a jogging stroller along that I could take the little ones in if necessary. I was honestly worried about them, as they had seemed exhausted on this hike. I couldn't even imagine them walking a second one. 

The hike is called Tuolumne Meadows. The trailhead is located off Tioga Road (120 East) at the Lembert Dome parking area (shuttle stop #4). It's very easy to find, just look for the shuttle signs. When we arrived, there were lots of people with cables and climbing equipment. It was very cool to see the "pros" getting ready for a climb. Here's a picture of Lembert Dome. If you click on the picture, it becomes full-screen. If you look closely, you can see some climbers on its face. 
Lembert Dome (can you see any climbers?)
Here's a closer look. See the guys in orange just above the trees on the far right?

So we started off for the Springs. The beginning of the "hike" was along a dirt road. I did end up bringing the jogging stroller, and put L in it for that part of the trail. But that was really the only time I used it. The kids were refreshed after their break and walked/ran the whole hike. It was a super easy, super flat, beautiful hike. In fact, R made fun of us for how easy the hike was, and said that she was going to pick a "real hike" next time. hee hee. You just can't win. 

The views on the walk were gorgeous. The expanses of the golden meadow, contrasting with cold granite peaks and beautiful pine trees. It was truly lovely.

Before we knew it, we were at Soda Springs. Seriously, we couldn't believe how quick it was. The springs were so neat. The water bubbles out of the ground like carbonated water (or soda). They were basically open and exposed, so you really felt like you were just out in nature, and came upon some natural springs. It was unlike anything I've ever seen before. 
The springs are in those little red-orangeish pools of water.

Here's a video to show the bubbling:

Don't mind my kid in the background. He was trying to convince Daddy to let him throw rocks in the springs. Which brings me to another point. Yosemite is gorgeous for many reasons, but mostly for its raw, unspoiled natural beauty. Because of this, you really do have to watch your kids. Or maybe your kid is better-behaved than ours. :) Seriously though, while it is a fantastic experience for the kiddos, you do need to keep a close reign on them. 

Anyway, other pics from this hike:
Having some crazy fun exploring 

Inside the little "lincoln log" structure they had built over the springs
K & R (otherwise known as frick & frack) 
Here comes trouble! On the footbridge across the meadow.
Beautiful view of the river and surrounding landscape
My kids' favorite activity: throwing rocks in water.
We even saw a deer on the way back
Just to prove mom wrong, the kids sprinted all the way back to the rv. Stinkers! But they had a fantastic time!
I highly recommend this hike...for kids, and kids at heart. It is lovely!


  1. Those pictures are gorgeous! Cracking up at your story of Luke..poo. too funny!

  2. Yipee - this looks perfect for our trip next week! Thanks for the info!


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