My father would’ve been in heaven here. He is obsessed with granite. At the family home, there is granite on the kitchen and bathroom bench tops, on the half wall divisions, on the floor, on the fancy dining table, on the coffee table. Basically there is granite everywhere.
I’m impartial to it. I mean, yes it’s a solid material which hides most flaws and shines ever so nicely when buffed and polished but it’s just granite. I prefer stone but that’s not the point of this post. I’m meant to be telling you how awesome Yosemite National Park is…
— 16 Nov 2013 —
The drive from Death Valley was long and hot (even with the AC on). As you drive on that long road out of the national park, you can actually see the heat radiating off the bitumen. It is THAT hot. I would hate to drive this road in summer. And there was nothing much to see. I vaguely remember a cactus or two.
Until we reached the Sierra Nevada range and that’s when we started to see the range (der!), water, lush green trees and fall colours (my favourite!). It was definitely a nice change of scenery.
Point A: Death Valley National Park
Point B: Wawona Hotel, Yosemite National Park
Distance: 396 miles (637 km)
We arrived at the Wawona Hotel quite late in the evening so we went straight to the room to freshen up and then headed down to grab dinner. The place was packed with everyone back from their day trips.
In the room, we had talked about staying an extra night because *E wanted to show me more of Yosemite, parts he’s seen and done before, so we decided to try our luck with getting a room for one more night. I hadn’t got my hopes up upon seeing the number of people in the lobby, but we got the room for 1 more night AND at a discount rate. Booyah! Thank you Wawona.
We waited in the dimly lit lobby listening to the pianist serenade the crowd munching on our appetizers. It was all very romantic. No wonder there were only couples in the room, except *E and I. Awkward much?
We had our romantic candlelight dinner, with an overly enthusiastic waiter, and it was off to bed for an early start in the morning.
After some sleep, a hearty breakfast and some actual planning, we set off to see the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia.
The Mariposa Grove is near the South Entrance, and contains about 500 mature giant Sequoia. *E was actually quite excited about this, telling me all about the Sequoia, how old they are and how large they can grow. Little did he know, I’d actually seen these trees before, in New Zealand. I told him this but this didn’t kerb his excitement. It was very sweet of him.
It was an easy trial and a good way to start the day. It was nice to just get out and about after the long drive yesterday. Stretch the legs, feel the cool air on the face and breathe in the fresh pine scent.
We reached the Grizzly Giant and dang, that tree was enormous. It is one of the largest trees in the grove and is estimated to be 1,800 years old. There are limbs that are up to 2m in diameter and it would make the wickedest climb. Too bad you can’t pass the barrier.
Around the corner is the California Tunnel Tree which is, like the name suggests, a tree that has been tunneled through. It is one of two trees that have been tunneled through and the only one still standing. The tunnel was cut to allow horse-drawn stages to pass through.
I was taking my sweet ass time walking around but *E, being the responsible one again, hurried me along so we could start the proper hiking. We wanted to see the Vernal & Nevada Falls which was going to take us around 5-6 hours.
We drove to Happy Isles, the start of the Vernal & Nevada Falls trial. The colours were beautiful. This shot is perfect, except for the photo-bombing (*E!!!).
I didn’t read up on this trail as I knew *E had it under control since he’s done it before and what not. I just nodded and agreed every time he suggested something as I was the noob and he was the expert. I didn’t have to do any thinking and it was great.
The beginning was all well and good. We were talking and slowly making our way along the trail. There were heaps of people going the other way which made me think the hike was easy and it won’t take us that long to finish. Little did I know…
We were on the Mist trial and to get to the top of Vernal Fall, you need to go up a granite stairway of over 600 steps. What the fuck dude?
There was a family of 3 who we got chatting to when we all stopped at that point and looked up thinking the same thing but my ego got in the way of things and I challenged the kid to make it up to the top. That and because his parents were like, I can’t be fucked going up there with him. The kid and I were neck to neck for most of the climb but he won in the end and had a smug look on his face as he sat comfortably on the rocks, looking at the waterfall, while I was panting and gracefully collapsed on the rock. It was very graceful indeed. Said no one ever.
We left the family (so long kid! Who’s beating who now?) at that point and continued up more steps, trying to beat more people on the way (they didn’t know they were part of my secret competition – do you do that too?).
On and on the trial went. I was getting pretty tired at this point but *E was not to know. I didn’t want him to see I was shit at this hiking thing (which I’m not by the way). The scenery was pretty much the same along the trial to the Nevada Fall; lots of hikers and grey-ish granite steps.
We reached the Nevada Fall at last and it was pretty. Looking down the valley you could see the vastness of the park. The water flow was not at it’s best being winter so I think the effect of it got lost on me. I’m sure its way better in the summer. Nonetheless it was a nice view.
So at this point, I was ready to go back. I had seen the falls, and they were spectacular, but *E convinced me to go a bit further. That “bit further” was more like another 2 hours-got to make it out by dark-just over the next waterfall “bit further”. And we actually did make it to the top and back down again before dark. The hike down was more rushed as we really wanted to make it out by dark (black bears) but I did manage to take a nice shot of Half Dome. That’s the one I will attempt next time!
The rest of the night was uneventful. Just another romantic dinner and the thought of having to leave early morning (*E needed to go straight to work – the downside to having stayed an extra night but totally worth it) was making me really sad. I love being on the road and the fact that the road trip part of the holiday was over was depressing.
No matter, because I will be back. As should you. See you along a trail one day! xx
Yosemite National Park
Open all year round (even Thanksgiving and Christmas Day!) with the Hetch Hetchy Entrance Station open only during daylight hours (will vary depending on season) and road closures due to snow through Fall and Winter.
From the East (Death Valley): Head West on State Route 190 until you hit U.S. 395, head South to join onto State Route 14, head West on State Route 58 towards State Route 99-N. You can get to Yosemite via exit on State Route 41-N.
From the West (San Francisco): Head east on Interstate 80 East, turn right on Interstate 580-E, continue on Interstate 205-E which merges into Interstate 5-N, head towards Fresno on State Route 99-S. You can get to Yosemite via the State Route 140-E exit.
Park entrance fee is USD $20 per vehicle for 7 days or USD $40 per vehicle for an annual pass (more worth it than Death Valley National Park).