Well, what a couple of days in Yosemite?! I’ve been to some pretty staggeringly beautiful places, so when I’d heard from others that this was their favourite place on the planet, I was a little sceptical – the Grand Canyon would be hard to top in terms of take your breath away scenery.
And so the scepticism continued as we drove into the park, with little to no visibility. We’d woken to ash falling from the skies at our hotel an hour south of Yosemite Valley, and it seemed like the ash had followed us the whole way to the park. We spent the early afternoon hiking through the trees to Mirror Lake, with the views when we got there pretty uninspiring (as in, we couldn’t really see anything!). But, come the afternoon, the smoke had lifted, and the magic really started to happen. An easy trail walk to the Lower Falls was the start of some fantastic photo opportunities, and the views never really stopped coming.
After a peaceful night’s sleep in Yosemite’s Upper Pines campground, we woke to clear blue skies and were looking forward to our planned hike with friends who coincidentally had planned to be in Yosemite at the same (and yes, one is my boss, who luckily I’m on great terms with!)
We hiked (I feel I can confidentially use that term rather than ‘walk’ after today’s exploits) to the top of the Vernal Falls, and back via Clark Point, a 2.5 mile hike with an elevation gain of 1500ft/450m. There was an option to continue to Nevada Falls (an extra 2 miles and 500ft), or even to attempt the Half Dome summit (an extra 11 miles and 3000ft elevation), but these sprinting legs are not designed for long distance, and the stunning sights we saw on our way to Vernal Falls more than satisfied this traveller!
I’m still not sure Yosemite has the single one ‘wow’ moment that the Grand Canyon’s vastness creates, but in terms of never ending beauty, nothing can quite compare with Yosemite’s rocks, waterfalls, meadows and sheer magic.
A few pictures from our time in the Park: