A combination of booking too late and being on a budget meant we were staying outside of the park, by about 24 miles. Not a problem, we often travel further for a fish n chip meal, I thought! What I hadn’t accounted for was the further twenty miles down into Yosemite Valley from the park entrance, another valuable lesson learnt for future reference!
We were however lucky, in that Sugar Pine Ranch is absolutely delightful, and breakfast was brought to our cabin in a lovely basket for us to enjoy on our balcony, or deck as they call it here.
Anyway, as we entered the park after climbing the Sierra mountains we had the valley view and the iconic El Capitan rock right there in front of us. Quite a view, with the river running like a line of silver right through the valley. There were acres of burnt out trees to each side of the road, evidence of a previous fire, but as we arrived actually in the valley the sequoia and other pine trees were standing majestically and smelling beautiful.
We thought we were arriving at a reasonable time but it seemed that everyone was there before us, but Amr’s parking fairy worked a treat and we managed to find a parking spot without too much difficulty, unlike many others who arrived after us.
After examining the information we decided on the Mirror Lake trail which would then take us to the end of the valley and back in a loop. We took the free shuttle to the start of the trail, which is where we realised how busy the park is, even though it is still early spring and during the week. The bus was cram packed like sardines in a tine, with no one willing to give an inch to another. We were glad to get off at our stop and proceed up the trail. What was designated as an easy trail, had me puffing and panting quite quickly, the trail was uphill, the altitude high, and the heat soaring (reaching 36 centigrade by the time we were half way round).
The trail followed the path of the river which was bubbling and crashing over the rocks and trees in its wake. We had lots of company en route, experienced walkers, kids and parents, teenagers, people who didn’t get the email about comfortable attire!! The lake was… like a mirror, until lots of people started jumping in, throwing sticks for the dog etc, but it was pretty with the mountain crags all around.
Making our way further on the trail we lost the ‘tourists’ and had the path virtually to ourselves, and the birds tweeting and the butterflies tantalisingly flying around us, not stopping to rest so I could catch a picture of them. We did manage to watch a woodpecker flying from tree to tree pecking the wood.
Unfortunately, the trail was impassable at the end of the valley due to being waterlogged so we had to return the way we came.
Deciding we did not wish to be cramped up on a bus again we walked back to the parking area which added a couple more miles to our walk but it was much preferable to being sardines again.
Day two and we decided that we needed to be in the park early and we were setting off on the Valley loop trail by 9am.
The walk took us to the lower Yosemite Falls before a tour of the valley in the opposite direction to yesterdays route. It was peaceful and much flatter than yesterday and again we followed the course of the river, more or less, which was a vibrant green colour.
We were surrounded by the towering mountains and rocks and a very welcome albeit occasional, breeze.
Only a few degrees cooler than yesterday but we were really feeling it and were ready for rest for our aching legs by the time we finished the 14 kilometres today.
Whilst we enjoyed Yosemite, there are lots of places without the crowds to enjoy, and we are hoping our next stop is one of those!