Elf has done such an excellent job of detailing our Yosemite trip on 4 Mile Trail here:
Her Photos are here:
And my photos with my Canon Point and Shoot are here:
And let's have a photo geek moment...
Calling my Canon a Point and Shoot is a little unfair as I had it set in Program mode with the lens stopped down by a stop and a half or so. For those who had or have the old classic film camera the Canon AE-1 the top dial looks remarkably similar and you can find the exact same features (Program mode and also Aperture or Shutter Preferred modes) with some added goodies like Video of and of course there's the Auto mode which is usually a guarantee of mediocre photos.
You can get remarkably fantastic photos out of the small Canons. That said I'm really hard on mine and in turn it is cranky and unreliable and has been sent to the factory once for repair though the next time it breaks that's it. There's a short somewhere in the electronics and it will start taking black pictures. If I notice, I can twist the body some or give it the time honored whack and it will come back (This is not a joke.), but if I'm not paying attention I have a series of nothing, but grey streaks. Elf took of photo of me taking a photo of Yosemite Falls. That lovely photo never happened as I went for 10 shots until I noticed the series of nothing being stored by the camera which was irksome, but ok since I knew that Elf was checking every one of her shots. I should get another camera and will but for now my camera and I will continue our slightly dysfunctional relationship.
One more photo geek observation. I've gotten so used to preview on a digital camera that I was surprised that Elf's nice camera didn't have it. Took me a while to realize that the reason that it didn't have a preview is IT'S AN SLR. What you see in the viewfinder is what you're gonna get. Duh.
I've forgotten how fun it is to have someone else along stopping to take photos (unless it's raining or I'm hungry :). It means I don't have to feel guilty about stopping to take my own. The potential trouble is that for every photo buff along there's a time added factor. We knew this so weren't terribly concerned but it easily added over an hour to our ascent.
The trail hasn't changed much since I last hiked it 10 or so years ago (that long? Maybe not.) As Elf explained the remnants of asphalt that were originally put there are being left to decompose. In my experience, that means they'll always be little pieces left though it's already reverting quite nicely.
The squirrels are WAY too tame. The squirrels outside my backdoor are wilder. I think we should let dogs on the trail just to make the squirrels afraid again though dogs are allowed up at Glacier Point and the squirrels there are too tame. I even saw someone feeding them some of a popsicle. I just stared and didn't have the energy to confront her.
As this site: http://www.yosemitehikes.com/yosemite-valley/four-mile-trail/four-mile-trail.htm talks about there really is no better way to see so much of Yosemite from a trail than on this trail, especially if you want to see all of Yosemite falls instead of being drenched by it (which is also a total blast). The trail is carefully constructed not to be too steep, which means that it's considerably easier than Yosemite Falls and has less giant steps than the Vernal Falls trail.
Plus there's ice cream and sandwiches at the end so what's not to like? Unless you're a wilderness purist, but a purist wouldn't go anywhere near Glacier Point anyway. Plus you get to feel superior to those that drove up. (For the SF Bay Areaites this is true of Mt Diablo as well - though no ice cream there.)
And the fun of Yosemite is hearing all the different languages. I get so used to just hearing English, Spanish and a smattering of Asian languages, so it's nice to hear other languages wafting by. The only hazard is if they pass you on the trail and you understand a word or two, turn your head to listen more and fall over a rock. Oops.
And on the way down we were happily surprised to have a woman who we saw earlier catch up to us and ask to join us as she didn't have a light source and it was starting to get dark. Her name is Fides, and she's a 3rd year German medical student working/observing for a summer in Sacramento.
We talked about places she'd seen, places she might consider going to. She told me me that this week she's going to be in SF doing the touristy things and she is definitely going to Alacatraz and we made sure that she was going to be taking the audio tour where they have you walk in a cell and you hear the sound of the cell closing (heebeejeebee), she assured us she was. She also mention that she was going to be staying in the youth hostel there. Slightly alarmed, I asked "Er, which one?" "Not sure, it's north of that main street [which is Market Street]." Ok, I'm not a parent of human children, but believe me I can worry with the best of them as I'm realizing that the area she's describing is the high crime Tenderlion and they're just going to love having a sweet young German woman appear. I tell her about the area and she assures me she'll be careful and hopes she doesn't have to use her Jujitsu skills. [Via email later she gives me the address which is at Ellis and Larkin - Egad.]
Since I had a willing expert at my disposal and we still had an hour of downhill to go I asked her when I finally get to Germany what should I see? She then descibed the Rhine river and how you can take a trip down it and then get off and see some of the surrounding towns. I fortunately had her write these places down when we got back to the car and I need to find that piece of paper and get them written into my Google Docs area.
Elf asked what other places in the US she'd been and the most amusing one was her being taken to Dollywood in Tenn. which of course led to finding common ground being utterly baffled by the far too easy targets of US Southerrn accents and the Swiss German language.
Somewhere I found myself giving the routine reality check that Hollywood is oh so not glitzy, but more gritty and grimmy and the real Hollywood is not in Hollywood at all. That the studios are in Burbank, and the stars live in Berverly Hills, Bel Air, Hollywood HILLS, Malibu, and Santa Barbara. She had heard correctly that you can't actually see most stars homes anyway, and I added in that you'd have a much more fun time going to the UCLA college town of Westwood and I'm realizing now that I should have said go to West Hollywood which is a totally fun place regardless of your sexual orientation (which didn't come up in our brief 2 hour conversation.)
As dark descends on us Elf wisely requests that we get out lights. I blissfully had not brought a headlamp (note to self - always bring one) but of late I've been putting small Princeton LED lights on all of my jackets and I use them all the time including right then and it worked great.
Fortunately in the growing dusk the only wild animals we saw were quail and it was just light enough for us to be able to show them and their cool crests to Fides.
We gave Fides a ride back to her car and Elf and I headed back to the Bay Area, and we managed to get back to the Fremont Bart station without winding up at either of our houses first (Elf was driving so the risk was me ending up in San Jose though I think I might have noticed that "Hey, Hwy 101 is not on the way." or something like that.) This is Elf's story to tell, but driving my manual transmission for just over an hour (Oakdale to Fremont BART) was enough to completely undo 8 years of only driving an automatic and learning not to stomp on the brake thinking it's a clutch. She is recovering, but it wasn't immediate as she drove only stickshifts for years and when she started to drive it was like she'd been driving then exclusively all this time.
All in all a marvelous trip and I'm hoping that we manage to find more time for such adventures.