There are so many highlights of this stunning area of land; Half Dome (the granite dome which is one of the most famous parts and most popular rock formation in the park), the waterfalls, Yosemite Valley and Tunnel View which gives you the best views of the amazing landscape. The only trouble you will have is deciding what to do first!
Yosemite is one of the National Parks that has been at the top of my bucket list for a very long time so as you can imagine I had high expectations and I was far from disappointed! In my eyes this is one of the most beautiful places in North America. There is so much to explore and a different view around every corner. Have your cameras at the ready, you never know what wildlife is around so keep your eyes peeled.
My introduction to Yosemite involved a hike down into what seemed to be a forest of Giant Sequoia Trees, you wouldn’t believe the size of them. The only downside to hiking down is you have to hike up on the way back but that was something to worry about when the time came. I thought it was impossible to get a good picture because the trees were so tall but this is where I discovered the panoramic lens on my camera and this made me look like a professional photographer. As we got well into the trail we came across some Sequoias that had fallen down; because they’re so big we managed to actually crawl inside them as that seemed easier (and lets be honest, a lot more fun) than trying to scramble over them. My white shirt was no longer white after but who cares, i literally crawled through trees and have the stains to prove it! It was like going inside caves, just darkness with a few beams of sunlight where there were cracks in the trunks, we looked like such big kids on a playground but it’s not something you get to do everyday!
The following day we took the shuttle into the heart of the park where there were so many options of activities to fill our time. You could easily spend several days here. There were shuttles to different viewpoints, canoeing/kayaking, cycling or all of the hikes as well as the dinky little shops and cafes, fill your boots!
Just like most of the parks there were all kinds of hikes with different difficulty levels to suit everyone. Although the big one to Upper Yosemite Falls was tempting it did look rather impossible so instead we opted for a slightly easier one called the Mist Trail which included climbing up a 3 mile trail alongside Vernal and Nevada Falls until we reached the top and look over them. Stunning is an understatement, it is impossible to describe just how spectacular the views were. Here I managed to capture enough screensavers to last a lifetime. This trail was one of the most popular, it was so crowded but still easy enough to complete. We made several stops along the trail for some incredible pictures (of course I was the one to stand on the edge of the cliffs and climb over the barriers because I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t, it was too hard to resist!). After finding the perfect picnic spot at the top we started the descent trying to get down shortcuts on the way and failing miserably as it actually took us longer because the hills were rather tricky to get down. Don’t try and cheat here, you won’t succeed and will look like a group of buffoons!
All the wildlife along with the scenery just made this place feel like paradise.
After refuelling on some greasy (and humongous) pizzas, we took a drive up to Glacier Point and I was certainly not prepared for the view I was about to be shown. I was speechless, completely gobsmacked. My legs were trembling (mainly because I was aching from the short climb we had to take to get to the viewpoint from the car park after climbing all day) but I just didn’t know which rock to go and sit on first. There were the most incredible 360 degree views everywhere and we were there at sunset, the best time of the day. There were so many colours and shadows it just made for the perfect picture. I felt like if I had done the hike up to this viewpoint, which would have taken all day, it would have ruined it due to how tired and wrecked I would have felt, I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy it like I did so driving was definitely the better option (especially as this one was vehicle accessible and the one we did was only accessible by foot).
I could have sat there for days just taking it all in; views like that make you forget about everything and just makes you appreciate the natural beauty of the world and all that’s out there. My day had really been the best one yet and was topped off by seeing, not a bear, but a Chevrolet truck drive into some rocks.The best part about this was when the driver got out, picked up a pebble and threw it said rocks, screamed, then laughed and drove off like it was just an everyday occurrence. Ha!
The campsite was beautiful; it was in the park so we were surrounded by trees and it had a barn which had recently been spruced up to have a huge games room and cinema. It was kind of like a mini hostel and had a bridge across the river which was covered in fairy lights. It smelt like a giant car air freshener everywhere you went as we were in the middle of the forest but I had the best nights sleep!
Our time in Yosemite was drawing to a close far too soon but it ended on a high when our tour leader took the best scenic route out, stopping at several spectacular viewpoints along Tunnel View; you wouldn’t think it could get any better until you set your eyes upon Half Dome through Yosemite Valley and walk along the golden sand at Tenaya Lake,the most beautiful alpine lake in the most beautiful setting.
This trip had no downsides, not even a spot of rain and I get the feeling the landscapes here would look incredible in every season. It’s a photographer’s and hiker’s dream.