Lake Tahoe and Yosemite

Published: September 18th 2015
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10thSeptember saw us do a monster drive between Crater Lake and Lake Tahoe. We managed to book a nice hotel en route in a Maccy D’s car park scabbing their free wifi (turned into a standard thing for us now). We arrived at Lake Tahoe in time for a nice sunset and some Domino’s pizza along with the biggest can of Bud you have ever seen.

Whilst in the hotel, a minor miracle happened and I found us a campsite in Yosemite Valley for the weekend. Must have been a cancellation as the sites usually book up in April! So we left Lake Tahoe, after visiting the lake properly, in search of the place we have been wanting to go back to since visiting 5 years ago.

After a quick stop at Mono Lake just before the park entrance we took the Tioga (north) road in, stopping for what the guide book said was an “easy” 3 mile hike to Dog Lake. Again the book lied to us but fortunately there were no naked hippies this time, just a pretty difficult ascent to a really peaceful lake. As we finished the walk and headed down to the valley we soon realised that the dreaded smoke was back. Apparently a forest fire started in the park 3 days before we got there.

After thinking how lucky we were to get a campsite in the valley, we soon wished we hadn’t. There was little privacy, a screaming baby (must have been under 3 months old) and to top it off a bunch of kids getting drunk. After what felt like about 30 minutes sleep that night we decided to take on a massive 14 mile hike from the valley floor up to Glacier Point (4,000 foot ascent) and back down on the Panorama trail, taking in a couple of impressive waterfalls on the way down along with seeing a bear up a tree. The smoke didn’t really hit the views until late afternoon and we soon remembered the reason that we wanted to come back here – the views at Glacier Point were simply stunning. Once finished we ended up talking to our neighbours (they were a fair bit older than us) who told us “we rocked” and “good on you for not chasing the dollar!” once we had told them our plans and what we had done to date.

Next morning we ached badly! We managed to find a space at a campsite called Crane Flat above the valley for the next couple of nights. We mooched around the valley in the morning, going to Cathedral and Sentinel beaches. As the weather was pretty dull and the river almost dried up we decided to check out Ahwahnee Hotel. It was dead posh and we scabbed some free internet where we found out that Ross and Kate had a baby! After much excitement and sending on our congratulations we drove to Yosemite Falls, only to find it completely dried out. Seems they really do have a drought in California.

After a much better sleep at Crane Flat we headed for a walk near Porcupine Creek, only to find out it was closed due to the forest fires. Instead we did an 8 mile hike to Cathedral Lakes, two very pretty lakes surrounded by impressive peaks. However on the way back the park got a drenching that it probably needed and we got soaked and rather cold.

That evening (once the rain cleared) we decided (Vicks took much persuasion) to go to a ranger talk around a camp fire. Jay, the ranger, built a solid fire, told some good stories and then cracked out his guitar for a bit of a sing song with everyone that turned up – 3 days later we are still singing the songs he taught us. The way back to the tent was very dark and we seemed to startle something in the woods. We shone the torch in the direction of the noise and saw two rather large eyes staring back at us. At this point Vicks shouted “BEAR!” and I bolted – manly I know. Vicks sprinted behind helpfully pointing out that “you shouldn’t run away from bears!” Anyway we survived the night, only just, as the rain came back to properly drench the tent.

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