Arriving in Yosemite on Tuesday the 1st of May we rolled around a corner to be set upon the edge of the deep glacially carved valley. The way it first strikes you is not of tall mountains above but nearly the valley sunken into the Earth below us. This was our first National Park of the trip, so we bought a relatively cheap ($80) year pass for entrance into all National Parks in the US. Something Thomas ungratefully learns with time, unlike his home, you often need to pay entrance fees for parks, beaches and roads in America. Camping it was agian, with a new phenomea called a "Bear Box," a large metal box at each campsite that is bear-proof. The Park Rangers stressed that ALL food, liquids, toiletries, anything that smells, had to be out of the car and into the bear box. It seems Yosemite bears have become extremely clever and have figured out how to break into cars to get at the food!
|Lower Yosemite Falls|
With only two full days at the park, we spent the rest of the day first day walking to the grand Yosemite Falls, to Mirror Lake and had a nice wander around Yosemite Valley. We saw some deer wandering through the meadows, but other than that the wildlife was only the hippopotamus' waddling off their tour coaches.
Dinners over the trip generally consisted of a basic version of the normal food we eat: pasta, curry, Mexican were all regular features on Thomas' menu skillfully cooked on our little tramping gas stove, with two pots. We learned that a good warm meal set us well for the cold nights ahead. As it turns out Thomas had a nice warm down sleeping bad, however I was traveling without. Being a gentleman, Thomas let me use his sleeping bag, leaving him with his silk liner and wrapped in clothes!
Our 5 hour hike planned for the next day, suggested by the ranger, went via two waterfalls, Vernal and Nevada Falls and avoided closed tracks due to snow. We didn't expect the track to be deserted as our previous tramps over the year in NZ, but to our dismay there was so many tourists, hikers, school groups, Asians with big cameras and even a couple of the hippopotamus'. Thomas taught me how to spot an amateur hiker, besides those in jeans, dresses or sandals, those in brand new, never worn boots, just stick out. Luckily after a few steep hills the crowds began to disperse and we were awarded with stunning views of the first Vernal Falls.
|Double Rainbow at Vernal Falls|
|Thomas on the Mist Trail by Vernal Falls|
The ranger warned us to bring rain jackets as we would be travelling on the "Mist Trail." We didn't know what to expect, but he was not kidding! We quickly learned the Mist Trail was a series of stone steps that went along side the falls, and thus spraying everything in its path. Thomas didn't bring rain gear, and thus ran on ahead at a fast pace, but I could hardly believe the gorgeous sight in front of me, so I took my time, and about 200 pictures, while getting completely soaked. Atop Vernal Falls we sat and took in the views and luckily at this point most of those amateur hikers had stopped, so we were graced with quieter trails ahead. The walk was steep, grueling in spots but rewarding as we reached the very top at Nevada Falls.
|Thomas and Amy at the bottom of Nevada Falls|
On our last night we took off in the car in search of a sunset view and after about 30 mins of driving we found a spot. Perched on rocks that felt as if they were hanging off the cliff and sipping on a Yosemite Pale Ale and we watched the gorgeous sunset across Half Dome and the Yosemite Valley.
|Half Dome at sunset|
Departing the next morning, we stopped at some Giant Sequoia trees. These trees are just massive, unimaginable giants of the forest and so appropriately placed in a such a dramatic beautiful landscape, created over time in the hands of nature!