Yosemite National Park
Those of you who know me will know that Yosemite National Park has been on the bucket list for too long. Last year I finally managed to plan a trip to western USA and of course Yosemite was on the itinerary!
I decided I was finally going to see Yosemite, yes this beautiful place that used to grace my Mac desktop back in the days. I now have my own desktop wallpaper! I joined an Intrepid trip because as a solo traveller, this was probably the best way to see as many places as I can. I enjoy Intrepid's style of tours because they travel in small groups and are adventure based. The main itinerary of this trip was to pass through as many National Parks as possible and camping along the way. Perfect. In June 2017 it became a reality!
We got into Yosemite at around lunch time from Las Vegas. We stopped at the Pioneer Yosemite History Centre to make our lunch surrounded by the sound of a bubbling river and trees standing up tall. It was a really small group of us for the second part of this trip. Only four including our awesome guide Sarah. It was really just like travelling with friends without a hint of being on tour.
After lunch Sarah drove us along Glacier Point Road and we did the easy hike up to Sentinel Dome. It had a breath-taking view of Yosemite falls and El Capitan! We stayed up there for what felt like forever because it was just impossible to tear our eyes away! Yosemite falls was giving us a roaring performance with the snow melt even though it was already mid-June. We were so lucky!
I wish we had had time to travel up to Glacier point to catch the sunset. Unfortunately our campsite was just outside of the park itself so we needed to get a move on to set up camp and make dinner before it got too dark! On the plus side we did get to stop by some pretty wonderful viewpoints on the way back including the famed "Tunnel View". Most exciting of all, we spotted two black bears wandering around and pulled up along the side of the road to watch them. Score!
The next morning, we made a quick breakfast at camp and then it was off to the Half Dome village where Belinda, Diona and I decided to catch the bus to the starting point for the Mist Trail. Sarah had decided to tackle the top of Yosemite falls so she went on her own way.
The first part of the walk up to Mist Trail is relatively uneventful and pretty much gentle uphill all the way. At a couple of points you get a break in the view towards the granite peaks and a glimpse of Vernal falls (well I think that was what I was looking at anyway). We spotted some squirrels and continued to encounter them up close for the rest of the hike.
When we got to the start of the Mist Trail I was blown away by the raging flow of the river that was cascading down from Vernal Falls. It was incredible!
I must have known that the trail is called the Mist Trail for a reason but I did not anticipate how 'misty' it was going to be. From this point onwards, I could not have my camera out of my bag because the spray from the waterfall was literally a downpour. All three of us were wet soaking messes by the time we got to the top of Vernal Falls. It did not help that I did not have waterproof shoes on!
It was such good fun! We spent some time at the top of Vernal Falls drying off in the sunshine. It was so incredible seeing the water drop off the edge to form the waterfall itself.
I did manage to take a few photos with my iphone. There was a rainbow the whole way along the mist trail formed by the sunshine and the water. A most beautiful thing!
Despite squelching shoes and wet socks we decided to continue to the top of Nevada falls to complete the entire trek. I am so glad I decided to finish it because it was the most beautiful trail up to the top.
And when you make it to the top. Wow. Just wow. It was the most incredible feeling ever. Not only to know that you have made it but also to see and hear this thunder ... no words.
We had to head back down pretty quickly once we got to the top because we were meant to meet Sarah back at Half Dome village. Somehow Diona and I had also lost Belinda along the way.
We pretty much ran and slipped downhill most of the way to get back to the bus stop that would take us to Half Dome village. Just as luck would have it, there was seemed to be a mix up with the bus schedule and there were no buses to take us back to the village. My feet were pretty sore by this time but we decided not to wait it out and made the walk back to Half Dome. Pretty as it was I was sure glad when we caught up with Sarah and Belinda :)
We still had a little time before the end of the day so Sarah took us to do a giant sequoia walk at Tuloumne Grove. Did you know that Giant Sequoias are the largest known trees living on earth and grow only on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada at elevations between 4,500 to 7,000 feet?We didn't manage to get too far in because the light was fading and we had all spent too much time hiking in the day but I'm glad I got a taste of walking amongst giants. After this we headed back to Half Dome village for a pizza dinner while watching an outdoor documentary on Yosemite National Park before heading back to camp. It was the perfect relaxing end to our visit.
I definitely have not spent enough time in the park. There are so many more places that I would love to have seen in Yosemite and so many walks I wish I had time to do. I did not even make some of the easier and more popular walks or stop at many of the viewpoints but I am so glad I got to spend a little time here, see a few amazing things and do a fantastic hike that I highly recommend to anyone visiting Yosemite. This is a bucket list item checked for me. I really really hope that I will be back.