Yosemite: Walking Amongst Giants
I can’t say I’ve covered too many hikes across the globe, but walking through Yosemite was right up there for me in terms of scenery. The dwarfing sequoias, the drenching mist of the waterfalls as you climbed by them, and the world-beater feeling at the top of a trail as you lose yourself in the valley.
We stayed just out of Yosemite in the tiny town of Midpines, which almost literally comprised of just our hostel. It was about an hours drive to the park so not too bad, and 15 minutes the other way to Mariposa, a slightly bigger town with a supermarket and a great “Happy Burger” diner.
Happy Burger ended up being our choice for dinner two nights in a row, not only because the food was pretty tasty (especially after a day of hiking), but also for the free entertainment provided by the loudly spoken manager, inadvertently letting the whole diner know her life story. Turns out she is actually moving to Denver as her husband has just discovered he has a 13 year old daughter. Who says American TV is over dramatised?
We spent the right amount of time in the park itself with our 3 days, although we did waste our first one getting lost on the most basic and boring of the trails, Mirror Lake. We did make up for it on the other two days and even the wasted day was still fun as we walked around in circles and extended our walk onto another trail which turned out to be quite nice, albeit unchallenging.
While we didn’t have the opportunity of doing the Half Dome (closed for the season and probably a bit more difficult than would have been prepared for), we did manage to tick off a few of the other bigger trails, including the walk up to Nevada Falls as well as Upper Yosemite Falls.
While the trail to Upper Yosemite Falls was the tougher of the two, climbing to around 900 metres (2700 feet) over what took us 2 hours (expected was 3-4), the trail up to Nevada Falls was far more spectacular. Along the way up you get to walk right next to the lower Vernal Falls, get drenched by its mist as you climb past it, and then you eventually get to the top of Nevada Falls with the opportunity to walk to the edge of the rock with a crazy view when looking down. I actually heard a man telling his son while standing there that it was his favourite view in the whole world, and that was his fourth time up to Nevada Falls. One of he best parts of doing the tougher trails is you slowly filter out the crowds of tourists, and while still busy, it is far more enjoyable than being down in the valley.
If I were to go to Yosemite again I would definitely want to camp in the park. Unfortunately we weren’t equipped for that this time round but our time there is definitely going to stay near the top of the list of highlights for the trip. Was really hoping to see a few bears as well but no such luck this time.