It wasn’t until I started looking through my pictures from Yosemite that I began to realize how magnificent that area is. I spent three days exploring the area in different ways and didn’t manage to figure out what all the fuss was about until just now.
It still hasn’t rushed to the top of my list of the American national parks but I admire the raw and brutal scenery in Yosemite which is very unlike the other places I’ve seen so far.
The drought (and maybe also the fact that it’s fall) means that there wasn’t much water inside Yosemite Valley – I was told that Mirror Lake was actually just Mirror Meadow at the moment and only two of the waterfalls were still running.
So I had three days to explore one of the most famous national parks in the US. I basically split it into one day exploring by car, one day on the back of a mule and one day of hiking.
The first day I drove from Lee Vining to the valley via Tioga Road and I was actually quite mesmerized by the scenery along that way.
My initial impression of Yosemite Valley however was pure confusion, it’s basically a labyrinth! But I managed to find my way out of the valley and all the way up to the overlook Glacier Point.
I stayed a good hour outside Yosemite so the following day I got up real early to be ready at the stables inside Yosemite Valley at 7am. After my fantastic experience with the horseback ride in Bryce Canyon I’d booked a mule ride in Yosemite. It was a 4 hour ride to the footbridge of the Vernal Fall and back.
The previous day I hadn’t been nearly as fascinated by Yosemite as I’d expected but my hopes for turning this around with a mule ride were high. I guess that was a recipe for disaster.. My mule, Larry, was great but I was disappointed with the way the ride were led and I was bored most of the trip.
After two disappointing days I was seriously contemplating finding something else to do but I wasn’t ready to completely give up on Yosemite – after all everybody had told me that it was one of the most amazing places on earth. So I decided that I had to give hiking a try!
Once again I arrived in the park early in the morning and started hiking the Mist Trail. The trail leads to the footbridge of the Vernal Fall, continuing on to the top of the Vernal Fall and ends at the top of the Nevada Fall. It starts out as paved with steep patches but the last half mile to the top of Vernal is stairs cut into the cliffside. And we’re not talking regular stairs – these are serious steps!
I was close to giving up when I reached the top of Vernal Fall after an elevation gain of 1000 feet but decided to at least give the rest of the Mist Trail an attempt. The last part of the trail was steep and difficult to hike but just 2h 10min after leaving my car I found myself at the top of Nevada Fall. I was ridiculously proud of having completed the hike with a total elevation gain of 1,900 feet!!
The hike itself wasn’t particularly amazing as there were so many annoying bugs but I guess the proud feeling kind of made up for it.
When I came back down my legs were basically like jelly so I decided that I’d done my very best at falling in love with Yosemite but some things just can’t be forced.
It’s been a week now and I’m more enthralled looking at the photos than I remember being while I was there. So maybe in a couple of months I’ll actually want to give Yosemite another try, who knows?