Yosemite National Park - we hadn't been here since 2008, when we climbed Half Dome with some friends. The park is just too busy generally for us to enjoy, and it isn't as much a wildlife destination as Sequoia and Yellowstone are. But in 2020, with the Covid19 pandemic, Yosemite went to a reservation system for day visitors, making it much lass busy. So when I saw some tents at Curry Village open the last week of September I thought that would be a great time to revisit the park - cooler fall weather, less people. A few friends also reserved tents the same two nights, Monday and Tuesday.

We made plans for the weekend as well, to visit the Tioga Pass area Saturday and Sunday, after spending Friday night in Death Valley. As we got closer I cancelled Death Valley as it was still 105 degrees there. Luckily I got a day use reservation for Friday the 25th and extended our stay at Evergreen Lodge to 3 nights. Then the fires hit...Yosemite closed for a week due to bad air quality, but announced on Wednesday they would reopen Friday the 25th - how lucky for us! The smoke driving up was pretty bad, especially along highway 41, but we saw a momma bear and cub along the road.

Stopping at Washburn Point along Glacier Point road we were treated to fairly clear skies! Since the park had just opened there was no one on Half Dome. Tunnel View wasn't too bad, we could see Half Dome at least. The falls were small or dry, as expected. Exiting the valley we were treated to two black bears in trees eating acorns, one collared. Then it was up to Evergreen Lodge for three nights.

Saturday was Tioga Pass day, we drove through a controlled burn, stopped at Oldsted Point and Tenaya Lake, then hiked to Gaylor Lake. On the hike out we ran into a friend, Beth Pratt - small world! Tuolomme Meadows was busier, and a bit warm, so we returned to the lodge for sunset.

Sunday we went to Hetch Hetchy early and hike to Wapama Falls - dry, but a nice hike. It was getting smokier, so instead of a nother hike we drive to the valley for another bear session. In addition to #26 posing by Bridalveil, there were two more in trees at what we called Bear Corner.

Monday morning we hiked to the Tuolomme Grove of sequoias, then entered the valley to much worse views due to smoke. At Bear Corner we caught momma bear #29 with her two coys. Turns our Curry Village was closed and we had been upgraded to Yosemite Lodge, very nice! We had dinner with our friends and then went for a sunset drive. A few people were climbing El Capitan, and another black bear was eating acorns.

In the morning there were deer at Bear Corner, as well as two bear - the ranger closed the bike path after I walked it as one was quite close. I did a hike to Mirror (dry) Lake, but it was too smoky for heavy exertion. Walking the bike path back to the village I got another bear sighting, too quick for a photo. An evening drive showed some of the same bears again, and deer. The patio of our room served as a nice place for a get together with out friends that evening.

A few more bear and deer in the morning, and then it was time to go home.

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