The last leg in our tour of South-West American National Parks is the big one – Yosemite.
Our first day was spent hiking in Tuolumne Meadows. First of all, we climbed a big rock called Lembert Dome for views across the park.
Then we got a bit lost, but eventually found our way to Dog Lake.
Then we picnicked by a stream in the meadows. We saw lots of deer and various rodents including lots of squirrels, chipmunks and a marmot. Later that evening we even saw a coyote hunting in the meadows.
Then we drove to have a look into Yosemite Valley from Olmsted Point, and then we visited the giant sequoias in Tuolumne Grove.
Phew…we were pretty worn out after day one, but day two was even more jam-packed as we went to the Yosemite Valley, which is the heart of the park. Since it was a holiday week there were loads of tourists, and our first hike along the Mist Trail to Vernal Falls was very crowded.
To get away from the crowds, we returned to the valley via a section of the John Muir trail. This was also a bridle path, so it was a bit stinky, but I’ll take horse shit over crowds any day. It was also a longer and steeper route, so we were more tired than we anticipated by the time we go back. Great views over to another waterfall, Nevada Falls, made it worth our while though.
Our next stop was Mirror Lakes, which got its name by reflecting the surrounding mountains. Unfortunately in July it shrivels up to paddling pool proportions, so it wasn’t doing much reflecting.
The shuttle buses were heaving (incidentally, watching Americans who obviously usually drive everywhere try to negotiate public transport is hilarious) so we decided to walk from Mirror Lake to our next destination, Yosemite Falls. It turned out to be a longer walk than we anticipated and very secluded. Since we were away from the crowds, we thought we might see some more wildlife. Mr Beet was scanning the mountains looking out for a mountain lion or a bear, when he very nearly trod on a different sort of animal.
Yosemite Falls is huge. So huge that I couldn’t fit it all into one photo, so bigger than it looks here.
You could easily spend weeks in Yosemite but unfortunately we had run out of time. We did get a few more hours the next morning as our route to San Francisco took us back through the park. So we stopped off for a quick stroll around the Mariposa Grove, which has even more and even bigger sequoias.
We still hadn’t seen any bears, so on the drive I was keeping my eyes peeled and scanning the forest to see if I could spot any. And I did! Just a glimpse, and there was nowhere to stop and turn the car around for about a mile. When we got back to the spot where I’d seen it, we couldn’t see anything. But then the bear crossed the road straight in front of us and we got a great view of it crunching up an old tree stump and eating the insects inside. How lucky are we!
More pictures of gorgeous Yosemite on Mr Beet’s flickr page.