Did you know that when you go camping in Yosemite, you aren’t required to hike? I practiced the fine art of doing practically nothing at Bridalveil Campground in Yosemite. I watched the critters in the campground, watched butterflies showing off on colorful flowers, stared into a campfire in the evening, watched the stars at night and listened to coyotes from my sleeping bag. I did take some pictures to share with you all.
Where: Bridalveil Campground, Yosemite National Park
Elevation: about 7,000′
Date: August 3, 2013
Maps: Half Dome, El Capitan
Highlights: Watching the wind rustle through the tops of the pine trees, watching butterflies on yellow flowers, watching the deer and squirrels roam around the campsite, watching the stars, and sitting around the campfire with friends.
When friends invited me to join them at the Bridalveil Horse Camp, I literally threw together my stuff for a weekend of car camping.
To get there, I drove down Glacier Point Rd about eight miles to the sign that points to Bridalveil Campground. This year, the campground is estimated to be open from June 22 -Sept. 9, but please check with the Park if you are headed this way to make sure.
There are 110 regular sites, two group sites and three horse sites. The regular sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations are required for the Group and Horse sites. RVs up to 35 feet in length and pets are allowed in the regular sites. Please check the link for the Yosemite Camping and Pet Information at the link at the end.
Each campsite contains a fire ring, picnic table, and food locker (aka bear box) and is near a bathroom with potable water and flushing toilets. You are required to store food properly in order to protect Yosemite’s bears.And you can learn about proper storage of food and your other smelly items that bears and other critters like to get into at the link at the bottom.
It is very important that you follow this information because Yosemite National Park is home to hundreds of American black bears, who have a voracious appetite. They also are incredibly curious and have an amazing sense of smell. This combination tempts them to seek out high-calorie food. Sometimes bears that routinely get our food become aggressive, and sometimes have to be killed as a result. By storing your food properly, you can prevent a bear’s unnecessary death.
If that isn’t enough to convince you to follow the rules, note that these food storage regulations have the force and effect of federal law: Failure to store your food properly may result in impoundment of your food or car and/or a fine of up to $5,000 and/or revocation of your camping permit.
I was feeling pretty lazy and wasn’t enthused about hiking in the smoke that the Aspen Fire was giving us. I know that I am spoiled to be able to go up to Yosemite as often as I do and see it when the conditions are much better than a smoky haze.
I did volunteer to drop a couple of my fellow campers off at Glacier Point to hike and I took this picture of Half Dome from Washburn Point. I think that the smoke had something to do with my laziness but I don’t think I can cast the total blame at the Aspen Fire. Sometimes a gal just has to relax.
After the hikers headed out to hike and the horse riders took off on their adventures that day, I had the campsite to myself. What should I do? I sat in my chair and watched the wind blow through the trees for a while. I could see the bright color of yellow flowers along Bridalveil Creek from my chair and decided to walk the 50 feet down there to check them out. The butterflies and bumblebees were going nuts on these flowers.
That was a lot of work so I headed up to take a break and look at the world from a different perspective.
I wondered how Bridalveil got it’s name and the history of this area. I did some surfing when I got home to learn that the Ahwahneechee tribe believed that Bridalveil Fall was home to a vengeful spirit named Pohono which guarded the entrance to the valley, and that those leaving the valley must not look directly into the waterfall lest they be cursed. They also believed that inhaling the mist of Bridalveil Fall would improve one’s chances of marriage. Wikipedia says that “When the wind blows briskly, the waterfall will appear to be falling sideways. During lesser water flow, the falls often don’t reach the ground. Because of this, the Ahwahneechee Native Americans called this waterfall Pohono, which means Spirit of the Puffing Wind.” Yosemite’s website merely says that Bridalveil Falls got its name because resembles a bridal veil.
After a while I went back to my camp chair and met Freddie Freeloader, the ground squirrel. I think he is a Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel and he was looking for cast away goodies that campers had left.
He lifted this gem up so I could see it and I could almost hear him yell “Hey, lookie at what I found!”
“What are you lookin’ at? Yeh, I am talking to you!”
I am King of the Campground!
Then I met Minnie the Moocher, a young well-fed Mule Deer. She obviously had her routine down at the horse camp, cleaning up the leftover tidbits of feed.
She went from one horse’s highline to the other, feasting on barely perceptible tidbits of leftover feed.
She knew I was there and I know she was saying something like “Hey, what are you looking at? Mind your own business!”
Nothing like topping off a nice meal with a drink of fine horse water.
Time for a break from this wildlife. A selfie.
Later on, I decided to wander up Bridalveil Creek a little ways to see what I could see. The Bigelow’s Sneezeweed was incredibly attractive to butterflies this day and I had one butterfly appear to be imitating Madonna doing it’s “Vogue” dance for me. I apologize in advance if you aren’t into butterflies but each pose showed a different light and pattern of it’s wings and body that had me mesmerized.
Moving along the creek. . .
More Bigalow’s Sneezeweed along the creek.
The paintbrush was pretty much finished with it’s bloom but still very colorful.
Time to head back to camp but I ran across some white and yellow flowers that contrasted nicely with the weathered log (and the last butterfly picture).
My campsite friends started heading back into camp. The hikers had a nice 8 mile hike from Glaicer Point down along Illilouette Creek toward Mono Meadows and the horse riders had a great 14 mile ride on a loop along Bridalveil Creek to Empire Meadows and back along Alder Creek.
I got the campfire going for Happy Hour. One of my tricks is to use a Clean Flame log. It is so easy to throw them in when you pack your vehicle for camping and they start right up. They are 100% recycled, made from waxed-box containers into very clean burning firelogs. Their website says that each fire log generates 86% less creosote, 80% less carbon monoxide, and 30% less particulate matter than natural wood. And here is most of our gang enjoying Happy Hour around the campfire. I got to hear about their many adventures on their rides and hikes and of course, I told them about my adventures with Freddie the Freeloading ground squirrel and Minnie the Mooching deer.