Debbie Croft: Sierra foothills full of autumn color, activities

Trees are aflame with golden, burnished shades of autumn in the mountain communities. Summer’s over, Yosemite is open and the holidays are fast approaching. Listed below are a few good reasons for taking a trip to the foothills and beyond this time of year:

• The Yosemite Climbing Festival is taking place Friday through Sunday, at the Oakdale Community Center. Authors, artists, films and more will be featured to celebrate the history of climbing. Well-known climbers are scheduled to speak.

Friday evening’s program, “Through Our Eyes – Climbing on Film,” is from 6 to 10 p.m.

On Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Yosemite climbers will present their views on the development of free climbing in “The Granite Crucible – Community and the Evolution of Free Climbing in Yosemite, A Circle of Friends.”

Sunday’s discussions will relate to the preservation of Camp 4, “Standing Our Ground,” from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The center is at 110 S. Second Ave. in Oakdale. Pre-registration is closed, but tickets are available at the door. The cost for the weekend is $35. Contact Ramona Howard by email,, or call (209) 416-8256 for details.

• Mariposa’s Mountain Top Christmas Boutique is planned for next weekend, Friday and Nov. 2. Sponsored by the ladies of First Baptist Church, this event will be held in the fellowship hall of the church from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. Handmade quilts, table runners, holiday decorations, jewelry, home-baked goods and more will be available for purchase. Admission and parking are free, and complimentary refreshments will be served.

The church is at 5005 Frank Wilson Road, off Highway 49 N. Look for the pink sign. For more information, call (209) 966-5780.

• Chocolate Soup’s annual Christmas Open House is always the first weekend in November. On Friday and Nov. 2, the hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Nov. 3 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Meet new owners Michael and Robbie Crowley and enjoy a chocolate treat while visiting the lovely shop and garden area. Chocolate Soup is at 5009 Highway 140 on the south end of downtown Mariposa. Call (209) 966-5683 or visit the website for details,


• The IOOF benefit spaghetti dinner will be served in La Grange at the Odd Fellows Hall on Nov. 2. Served from 3 to 7 p.m., the all-you-can-eat or take-out meal includes spaghetti, garlic bread, salad, a soft drink and ice cream sundae. The cost is $8 for adults and $4 for children age 10 and younger.

Raffle tickets are available as well, with proceeds going toward the maintenance and restoration of the historic lodge. The hall is in the center of town, on Highway 132. Call Chris Stevenson at (209) 853-2128 for more information.

• The public is invited to the Mariposa County Arts Council Treetop Gallery for the opening reception of the Fall-Winter Show. On Nov. 1 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. the gallery will celebrate its one-year anniversary. The MCAC office and gallery are located upstairs at 5009 Highway 140, above Chocolate Soup. Beautiful artwork from regional artists is exhibited year-round. For details, visit

, or call (209) 966-3155.

• The Trans Valley Youth Football League (TVYFL) will again bring its super bowl to Mariposa the weekend of Nov. 8 to Nov. 10. For the fifth season in a row, young football players compete for the year-end championship title. Games and activities are held at the Mariposa County Fairgrounds. For details, email Bob Kirchner at


• For those who haven’t visited Yosemite National Park in a while, the National Park Service will hold free entrance days during the upcoming Veterans Day weekend, Nov. 9 to 11. Following the temporary closure earlier this month, NPS officials said all park operations are up and running and all major roads are open.

Don Neubacher, park superintendent, said recently: “The entire Yosemite region is dappled in spectacular autumn color.”