Edit Blog Post
Published: September 23rd 2007
Yosemite - Wednesday 19th to Thursday 20th September
The road we took to Yosemite was the Tioga pass, and was about 70 miles long - winding right through, ( or rather over ), Yosemite National Park. We climbed up to the ranger station to pay the entrance fee, and then wound our way through the park. The climb was steep and pretty hairy, but the views were staggering. It’s everything you imagine it to be. There are high lakes, huge ravines, soaring mountains, pine forests, rock falls, rivers - it is superb, spoiled only by retired American tourists that keep getting in the way in their oversized rented motor homes.
We didn’t stop much on the way through as it was a long, slow drive and we were tiring. Our hotel was on the other side of the park, near to the Yosemite Valley Arch entrance, so we will have all day tomorrow to go into the park and see the more spectacular sights without the hindrance of a car or Winnebago convoy.
We got to the motel at tea-time, a nice place nestled in the valley next to a wide creek. It has taken us well over
6 hours to drive 300 miles - not including stops! The roads through Death Valley, the deserts and mountain passes and Yosemite are very narrow, twisty and steep and took a lot of concentration. The room and hotel are fine, had a nice dinner in the diner and unpacked our hiking gear ready to see some of Yosemite proper in the morning.
Thursday morning was an early rise, ready for the breakfast buffet opening at 7am so we could get into the park for park opening. Breakfast was a buffet feast and surprisingly cheap considering we were a captive market - there is nowhere else to eat for miles. We filled up and secreted a few more bits into the bag for later.
The weather was terrible, overcast, cold and been raining all night - typical. We’re all set for a day’s hiking and beautiful scenery and we’re going to get soaked.
We got into the park for about 8:30am, the drive through to the valley floor is awesome, the scenery is spectacular.
We knew there are a lot of bears in the area, but never expected to see one, yet as we were pulling into
the parking area a mother bear and three cubs came from the forest and crossed the road right in front of us! Unbelievable. We managed to get a few pictures, but by the time we fumbled in the bag for the camera they had just about passed. A great start to the day, but also scary as now we knew just how many bears there must be, and just how close they come to humans. The cars and people didn’t bother them at all.
There are signs up on the road into the park detailing which of the passes are open, the Tioga pass is closed today due to a heavy snowfall last night. It’s a good job we travelled here yesterday or it would have meant a detour round Yosemite of about four hundred miles!
We headed for the visitors centre and joined a free photography tour. It was a short walk around Yosemite Valley Meadow, which is the base of the valley, and was ran by the park’s staff photographer. It was supposed to be a two hour introduction to SLR photography, but there were some pro’s around - we felt a bit out of our
depth when one guy started asking things like, “how do you feel about pushing your shots into the non-linear spectrum”????? It got a little boring after a while, as most of the talk was too technical for us, and it was raining and overcast so we thought our pictures would be rubbish. However, the photographer said that days like today make for fantastic pictures, and we actually ended up learning quite a lot - so hopefully our pictures of Yosemite from the afternoon should be better for it, ( we haven’t checked them yet ). The photographer took us to an old Sequoia tree to save us a 6 hour drive to see them at the Sequoia National Park - these are the enormous old trees famous in this part of the world. It was impressively big, but not a patch on the real biggies at the Sequoia park. We also took some shots of Lower and Upper Yosemite Falls, but they were dry as there are only falls there after heavy rains. The Yosemite Meadow is really peaceful, lush and green - amazing backdrop of granite mountains, and there were lots of friendly deer with young that were keen
to pose for photos.
That took us to lunch time where we grabbed something from the deli to go with our pilfered Danishes from breakfast, Again, it was really cheap here which is very surprising as it is all run by the park.
There is a shuttle bus that runs all around the valley floor, dropping you off at various starting points for different hikes. We wanted to hike to the top of Half Dome, the single biggest piece of granite in the world, but we didn’t have enough time left to do it, so we headed for Vernon Falls and onto Nevada Falls further up the same climb.
By the time we got off the shuttle bus, the clouds had cleared and the sky was blue - the weather was perfect. We hiked along the river, up toward the bottom of Vernon Falls along Mist Trail, this included a 600 step granite staircase which was pretty hairy to go up, and Emma was dreading coming back down. It was good practice for the Machu Pichu trek. The views up the falls were just superb, with the huge granite towers of Half Dome and El Capitan as
a backdrop. At the top of Vernon Falls is a pool called Emerald Lake, it was a serene pool at the head of the falls, in the middle of the forest and was deep clear green, the far end of the pool was fed by the river leading up to the base of Nevada Falls. We pushed on to Nevada Falls, which was another excellent hike. The falls were impressive, but would be awesome in full flood. The trail was superb, there are squirrels and chipmunks everywhere and some fantastic coloured birds. You could see eagles soaring between the two peaks and one swooped down the valley as we climbed. It took about three hours in all to reach the foot of Nevada Falls, which was a height gain of 2000 feet, and it only took about an hour to get all the way back down again. Coming down was very hairy on the step granite steps - one trip and you’d be off the side, hundreds of feet down into the rocky Merced River below. It was a short hike of just over 7 miles, and we took at an easy pace, stopping for lots of photos. It certainly
got us in the mood for the Inca trail.
We grabbed a bite to eat in the park before heading back out to our digs, about 20 miles from the park entrance. Doesn’t sound like a lot, but it takes ages when the speed limits are 25 miles per hour!
Yosemite was everything we hoped it would be, and more. There are so many places to explore and so much to see here that it would have been great to camp and spend a week or so doing some of the longer hikes. We’d love to come back, but definitely armed with a bear horn and shotgun.
Tot: 0.143s; Tpl: 0.025s; cc: 13; qc: 26; dbt: 0.0974s; 1; m:domysql w:travelblog (10.17.0.13); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.1mb
Very nice page. I was at Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks last week. It's nice to see well prepared pages like yours. Tnx :)
Tony & Emma
Thanks for the nice comment - I hope you enjoyed Yosemite as much as we did.