We left for Yosemite at 3:50 AM to snag a spot at Bridalveil Creek Campground. We arrived in the park just after 8:00 AM, and headed up Glacier Point Road toward Bridalveil Creek Campground around 8:30 AM. After we had passed the spot where the campground sign usually is, we realized that we'd neglected to check if this campground was even open at this point in the season. Unfortunately for us, it was closed and we needed to make the long drive around and down into the valley to find a spot for the night. If you've ever done any first-come-first-served camping in Yosemite, you know that if your campground plan just flew down the toilet and it's already 9:00AM, you're in trouble. Needless to say, we are officially convinced that making reservations is the way to go if you have the luxury of planning time. On our way back down Glacier Point Rd we made a plan to go to Camp 4 in the valley (in which we claimed years ago we would NEVER camp because it's right next to the noisy traffic-ridden road - HA), and if that fell through we'd continue up Tioga Rd and go to Tamarack Flat. We got to Camp 4 around 10:00 AM, and jumped in a line of about 15 people waiting to catch a spot. 30 minutes later, they announced that there were 6 single camping spots left, and there were 6 of us in line - so we all would get a spot, but we would all be in separate campsites. (If you aren't familiar with Camp 4, they fill up each campsite with 6 people regardless of if you're in the same group or not.) Mike and I were the 5th and 6th person in line, and when we walked up to register for our individual spots, they were gracious enough to put us together in the same one (hallelujah). Our plan was to brave the crowds and traffic of the valley for one day and head up to Tamarack Flat at 5AM the next morning to snag a first-come-first-served site. We enjoyed our time walking around the Merced river and exploring the Lodge, but we were eager to escape the heat and crowds of the valley. The next day we packed up our hammocks next to our sleeping neighbors and headed up to Tamarack around 5:10 AM. We were the first ones in the morning to show up for a site at Tamarack, so we walked the entire campground noting the number of each site that was scheduled to be vacant that day. (You put up a slip at your site saying what nights you're staying, so you have to walk into everyone's sites to determine if theirs will be open). We reconvened at the car and determined we had about 15 options - but the next step was patrolling to wait for people to wake up and asking them if we could put our slip on theirs to reserve their site. We got lucky and within 5 minutes we snagged one of the best sites!
The first full day in Tamarack was spent setting up camp and planning hikes for the next 5 days. That was, until about 3:00, when I went to the car to grab something, threw the door closed, and out came running a black bear behind a rock about 15 feet from me. My car door had alarmed him and he went running off to the campsite across from us. Mike and I hopped in the car to go report him to the camp host while the bear meandered around the sites near us, checking out all the food storage for any unlocked food. The camp host and a couple of on-site volunteer rangers came over and scared him off, informing us that he had come to the campground every day for the past 5 days looking for food. Apparently his mother was hit by a car a year ago, and although his siblings thrived after leaving rehabilitation, this bear had a difficult time learning the necessary skills to forage for food, so he was losing a lot of weight and was relying mostly on food left out by campers at this specific campground. They told us how to scare him off every time he came back, and informed us that there would be trained wildlife rangers who would be staying on the campground 24/7 over the next few days to implement the NPS' plan of round-the-clock hazing, hoping the bear would eventually get it in his head that the campground is not the place to be.
I spotted him again about an hour later checking out the tent next to us so we scared him off...into the other end of the campground (ha!), and the wildlife ranger who had just showed up headed over there in her vehicle, lights and siren blaring, and scared him up a tree surrounded by campsites. She let everyone get their photos, and then told us all to disperse. Mike and I watched from about 120 feet away as they waited for the bear to come down, which he did about 10 minutes later to check out the trash can they left open to entice him before he scampered his way back up again. About 10 more minutes and he made his way back down and they successfully scared him off, but not before climbing a tree right next to our hammocks!
To say our first day was exciting would be an understatement. Little did we know, that night would hold even more excitement with loud shouts/screams of "BEAR!" alerting the ranger and the *pop* *pop* *pop* of the paintball gun, scaring him away time after time, every few hours throughout the night. The next day they set up a few bear traps around the site, hoping to capture him, re-collar him since his was about to expire, and transport him away from the campground, deeper into the wilderness.
Since that night we didn't see him again, and despite rangers patrolling around the clock, there was no more excitement to be had.
We spent the rest of our trip exploring the upper north side of Yosemite around Tuolumne Meadows, Lukens Lake, Siesta Lake, Dog Lake, and one day dedicated to checking out Hetch Hetchy (which is the coolest thing ever - read more about it here).
We opted to head out a day early and make a stop in Tehachapi before our last week of honeymooning at a resort in Palm Springs (thanks, Dad!). Thus concludes our honeymoon adventures! A recap video of our trip will be coming soon!