July 3 - 4, 2009 - Yosemite/Conness

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July 4th fell on a Saturday in 2009, so most companies had July 3rd (Friday) off. As such, 4 of us took a chance on claiming a walk-in campsite in Yosemite by driving there early July 3rd. We left Bay Area at about 5am and got to the Rt120 entrance just a little after 8 am, after stopping by Oakdale to fill up and to buy lunch to be eaten later in the day. The ranger office at the park entrance said it's unlikely that Tuolumne meadows would have any spots, but they didn't know for sure, we would just have to check it out. And along the way, also check out White Wolf, Porcupine Creek, etc. We stopped by every campsite along Rt 120, including Tuolumne Meadows and all were full already. We put our name on the waiting list for Tuolumne Meadows, we were #16. We would have to come back at around 2pm (checkout was 12pm) to hear the announcement. Maybe we wouldn't be able to find a campsite in Yosemite afterall this time :( We kept driving past the Rt 120 Tioga pass exit and also checked for spaces in the campsites around there - Tioga lake and Ellery Lake. Both are walk-in only campsites and although there were people leaving, all of them were already staked by others waiting there.

There were just two options left: Saddlebag Lake or Bennetville camp, just a short distance from the Tioga lodge and Ellery Lake. We checked Bennetville camp first as it was closer to the road (Rt 120). We saw some campers vacating their sites, but again, they were already taken by others waiting, so we kept going to the other side of the campsite, believing most likely that we wouldn't find a spot. We passed by the camp manager, he wasn't at the site. We saw some campers on the side of the road and they could sense that we were looking for the manager or campsite. One of them said the manager was cleaning the bathroom down the road, and then said that some people were leaving (site #10) and that we should check with the manager to see if we could take that site. And then we noticed #6 was also vacated already. We found the manager and asked if we could take site #6 or #10, he said as long as it's clear, then sure. We were elated and immediately started to grab site #6. We started unloading but found that the site was a little exposed and windy. So we checked out site #10, which was still being vacated by a family. Site #10 was closer to other sites, the bathroom, but more protected from wind, so we moved our stuff to site #10 instead. We proceeded to set up the tents and unload, and by about 11 am, were ready to leave for a dayhike. We split up to two groups: 2 people to hike Conness from Sawmill camp parking, and 2 people to hike Mono Pass inside Yosemite. After a day of hiking, we met up again around 6:30pm and started preparing hotpot dinner back at the campsite. After a very yummy and full dinner, we slept till probably around 8 am the next day and finally left the campsite at around 10 am. On the way back, we went by Hetchy Hetchy reservoir via Evergreen Road and then back to Rt 120 via Cherry Lake Rd. We had dinner in Milpitas and finally got home at about 7pm.


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