From 20 July to 5 August 2013, I was in California to join my brother Greg from Bulgaria, his wife Emi, the twins Gregory and Joyce, now 14 1/2, and Mina, 13, for part of their vacation. My niece Carrie met me at the San Francisco airport, and we drove down to Pebble Beach, where Greg had rented a house. We all went for a walk together along the coast at Pebble Beach. After Carrie returned to Oakland, we went up Carmel Valley to Garland Park, for a hike in the Coast Range and its redwood groves. The kids enjoyed an excursion to the Santa Cruz boardwalk at the northern end of Monterey Bay. Another day we went down to Big Sur for lunch with friends. Then we crossed the Central Valley for 7 days in Yosemite National Park, first for a night at Yosemite Lodge in Yosemite Valley, then two nights in furnished tents at Camp Curry, with short hikes through the valley and up towards Vernal Falls. We then drove up the Tioga Road to Tuolumne Meadows in the High Sierras for two nights, with walks through the meadows, and finally hiked up to May Lake High Sierra Camp for two more nights (where we also went last year), before returning to Carmel. It is always a pleasure to return to and share with family the places I grew up in, and especially the High Sierras where I have hiked for more than 60 years.


The outer coast of the Monterey Peninsula at Pebble Beach along the 17-mile Drive is rocky, with small sandy beaches and some off-shore rocks with seabirds and sea lions. Where there used to be sand dunes behind the beaches that we played in as children, there is now a golf course and luxury homes. My explorations of the tide pools and seashore life as an adolescent led me to become a marine biologist. The coast is usually cooled by fog in summer, and thus escapes the summer heat.
coast at Pebble Beach . coastal wildflowers . Carrie looking in a tide pool
The coastline in Pebble Beach; coastal wildflowers; Carrie looking into a tidepool
Pebble Beach . Pebble Beach . Gregory and Greg
Greg and family heading for the beach; Joyce, Mina, Emi and Gregory; Gregory and Greg
walking along the shore . walking along the shore .
Gregory, Greg and Carrie
Mina and Joyce walking along the coast; Joyce and Emi; Gregory, Greg and Carrie
walking along the shore . walking along the shore . walking along the shore
Walking along the coast


One afternoon, we went up Carmel Valley to Garland Park, for a hike up into the Coast Range of mountains with some redwoods, oak woodland and coastal scrub vegetation.

Starting the walk . Mina . Gregory
Starting up the slope; Mina on the trail; Gregory resting

oak and poison oak . coastal vegetation . coastal vegetation
Vegatation of the Coast Range: oak and poison oak; bay laurel; scrub and redwoods

coast range vegetation . coast range vegetation . coast redwoods
trees, scrub and coast redwoods
Mina . Gregory
Mina with Carmel Valley in the background; Gregory and his cellphone

Greg and Emi . Gregory, Mina and Joyce
The Dahls: Greg and Emi; Gregory, Joyce and Mina


For Greg and Emi's kids, the Santa Cruz boardwalk at the northern end of Monterey Bay, with its wooden rollercoaster (an historical monument) and other rides, is always an attraction. We sat and enjoyed the beach and sun, and visited friends.

boardwalk . rides . Mina, Emi and friend
The Santa Cruz Boardwalk with amusements and roller coaster; Mina, Emi and friend

Santa Cruz beach . Santa Cruz beach
Santa Cruz beach in front of the boardwalk (the fog stayed offshore on this side of the bay)


After crossing the hot central valley of California, we drove up to Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park, the famous dramatic glacier-cut valley where we spent three nights and made some short hikes, first along the river to Happy Isles, then up towards Vernal Falls.

walking up to Happy Isles . Gregory, Joyce and Mina
Starting our first hike: Emi, Mina and Greg; Gregory, Joyce and Mina

Gregory, Emi and Mina . Gregory . Greg
Gregory, Emi and Mina; Gregory on the bridge; Greg

river . river . valley walls
Views of Yosemite Valley along the river

river . valley walls . valley walls
Views of Yosemite Valley with its glacier-cut walls

deer . ground squirrel
The wildlife is accustomed to people. We also saw a bear.

The hike up to Vernal Falls
hiking up to Vernal Falls . Greg on trail . Gregory and Joyce
Gregory in the lead; Joyce, Emi, Mina and Greg; the twins Gregory and Joyce show their strength

valley cliffs . valley cliffs . valley cliffs
Views of the walls of Yosemite Valley

river . river . cliffs
The river; glacier-cut cliffs

Gregory . Greg,  Joyce and Emi
Gregory waiting for the others to catch up; Greg, Joyce and Emi

valley cliffy . water in river . red puddle by the river
The valley; rapids on the river; a strange red pool by the river

valley bottom . valley bottom and river . Vernal Falls
Views of the valley, and Vernal Falls

Greg and Mina . Greg . Emi and Joyce
On the way down; Greg and Mina; Greg; Emi and Joyce


Our first stop in the High Sierras was Tuolumne Meadows (8,600ft/2,620m), the only high camp accessible by car, where we stayed two nights at Tuolumne Meadows Lodge in tent cabins with wood heaters, hot showers and dining room, and hiked across the meadows and around the base of Lembert Dome.

hiking across the meadows . Gregory on the trail
The Dahl family in the meadows; Gregory
Tuolumne Meadows . Tuolumne Meadows . soda springs and Parsons Lodge
Tuolumne Meadows with Sierra peaks in the background; soda springs (carbonated mineral water) and Parsons Lodge

Hike around Lembert Dome
Emi and the others . Joyce and Gregory . Greg and Mina
On the trail: Emi with Joyce and Mina; Joyce and Gregory; Greg and Mina

Lembert Dome . climbers on Lembert Dome
Lembert Dome; steep face with climbers


The hike up to May Lake (9,270ft/ 2,825m) is not too long but quite steep, but I had to pack in a tent and sleeping bag as there was no room for me the second night in the High Sierra Camp. We made a day hike to Raisin Lake on the trail to Glen Aulin, and enjoyed the beautiful environment of May Lake itself, with Mount Hoffmann (10,850 ft / 3,307 meters) in the background. Since we climbed Mt. Hoffmann last year, we decided not to go up again this year. In the evenings, we enjoyed the sunset view over the High Sierras and towards Half Dome and Yosemite Valley from the ridge behind May Lake.

May Lake and Mount Hoffmann . May Lake . view from the porch 
May Lake from the High Sierra Camp, with Mount Hoffmann behind

May Lake High Sierra Camp . Brian preparing dinner announcement . blackboard
May Lake High Sierra Camp, with manager Brian preparing the dinner menu

mules . mules
Mules from a group riding around the camps
in the camp . Emi and Gregory in the camp . looking at photos
In the camp: Joyce, Gregory and Emi; Emi and Gregory; looking at photos

Greg Dahl family . Emi and Joyce . Joyce in the camp
The Greg Dahl family; Joyce and Emi; Joyce in the camp

Sierras from the ridge . Sierras from the ridge . Sierras from the ridge
Sunset in the High Sierras from the ridge behind the camp; Mt. Lyell (13,114ft/3,997m) in the distance.

Gregory and Greg on the ridge . Gregory and Greg
Gregory and Greg

Emi on the ridge . enjoying the view . Greg, emi and Gregory
Emi, Greg and Gregory watching the sunset
Half Dome at sunset . alpen glow over the ridge . alpen glow
Half Dome (8,842ft/2,695m) at the edge of Yosemite Valley; alpen glow after sunset

The hike to Raisin Lake
May Lake . May Lake . family at May Lake
Starting out along May Lake

May Lake . May Lake . Emi photographing a tree
Along May Lake; Emi liked photographing unusual trees

trail to Raisin Lake . family on the trail to Raisin Lake . arriving at Raisin Lake
The trail down to Raisin Lake

trail to Raisin Lake . Emi and Greg . kids arriving at Raisin Lake
On the trail; Emi and Greg; the kids arriving at Raisin Lake

Raisin Lake . Raisin Lake
Raisin Lake surrounded by granite

family at Raisin Lake . Greg, Emi, Mina at Raisin Lake . Emi and Joyce
The family at Raisin Lake; Emi and Joyce still had lots of energy

Gregory at Raisin Lake . Greg reading . Gregory at Raisin Lake . Gregory
Gregory contemplating the lake, and Greg catching up on his reading

Sierras from trail . Greg and Emi resting on the trail
We then climbed back up to May Lake

granite slopes . meadow on the trail . trees and rocks
The trail crossed granite slopes with Junipers and meadows ringed by lodgepole pines

meadow on the trail . Emi and Greg on the trail . meadow on the trail
The meadows were still green despite a drought

Dahl family on the ridge . in the tent at night
The Dahl family in the High Sierras; night as it really is in a camp tent

Gregory in tent . Mina, Greg and Emi in tent . Joyce in tent
Gregory, Mina, Greg, Emi and Joyce in their tent at May Lake. This is camping with comfort.

Me and tent . me and tent .
Me at my tent in the May Lake campground

Mina . Gregory and Greg . Arthur Dahl
Mina, Gregory, Greg and me ready to leave the camp and return to civilization

American burger lunch in Mariposa
On the way back, we stopped for burgers in Mariposa


Returning from Yosemite, we crossed the central San Joaquin Valley and then the Salinas Valley on the way to Carmel. The extended fields of irrigated agriculture are always impressive, as is the summer heat in comparison with the more temperate mountains and coast.

fields in the Salinas Valley

agriculture: sunflowers
sunflowers in the Salinas Valley

artichoke fields near Castroville
artichoke fields near Castroville

harvesting strawberries
harvesting strawberries

mining the sand dunes around Monterey Bay
mining the sand dunes behind Monterey Bay

sand dunes
sand dunes behind Monterey Bay

Monterey Bay and Monterey Peninsula
sand dunes with the Monterey Peninsula across the bay

Monterey Bay and Monterey Peninsula
Monterey Peninsula across Monterey Bay

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Last updated 6 August 2013

Photographs copyright © Arthur Lyon Dahl 2013