Yosemite... Bear Country!!

Trip Start Sep 16, 2008
Trip End Nov 19, 2008

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Flag of United States  , California
Thursday, October 23, 2008

We stayed at a hostel that is a 'Yosemite Resort' that offers hostel facilities, the hostel side of it really does need some TLC.  There is a cafe here that charges dinners for about $11-$16 which is good.. but not that good if you are on a budget :P  We found out the first day that we really are in the sticks and the nearest grocery store to buy food supplies was a half hour bus trip away in a little town called Mariposa.. however the bus goes there twice in the morning and doesn't come back until the late afternoon!  We shared half a sandwich for lunch from the cafe and waited until the afternoon to make a grocery run!  The hostel is in Midpines which is outside of Yosemite National Park.  To get into the park it costs $5 per car or $12 return on Yarts public transport per person.

Second day here we decided to venture into Yosemite and see what all the hype is about.  We had looked roughly at hikes on the net the night before to try and decide which one to do.  We thought we would go to the visitor centre and get some more info either way.  Off we go on our 6:40am bus (OMG cold).. did I mention that we are staying in a camp tent which is a permanent structure with canvas.. a nice little cosy room for two until it is the middle of the night.. Ally has 3 blankets and is still freezing her arse off.  Even Jason was cold.. yes.. JASON WAS COLD!  Apparently it was around 7/8 C.  Not that cold yet you say, but when you are in the sticks with a few blankets.. cold enough.

So off we went on our bus to Yosemite.  It really is hard to decribe in words and photos but all the hype is justified.  Even though we have come here on the start of winter and Yosemite falls is a stain on the rockside (no water!), the changing of the leaves which I haven't really experienced before is hell alot better then water coming down some rockside.  Water is overrated anyways, and we have that at home :)  I love the yellow/orange leaves and driving into it in the morning was wow.  We get to the visitor centre around 8am.. which opens at 9am.  It is going to be a long day...

So we buy a few food supplies for the hike and get on the free shuttle bus that goes around Yosemite to do the Mist Trail.  This consists of two parts of a hike.  The first one is to Vernal Falls and the second is to Nevada Falls.  I didn't really know too mRemove Linkuch about this hike but we had agreed we will do the first half and see how I go, and maybe continue on, etc.  To give you an idea of why I am finding it hard to walk after doing the whole mist trail, read below:

Distance:  3 miles (4.8 km) round trip to Vernal Fall, 7 miles (11 km) round trip to Nevada Fall. 

Elevation at trailhead:  4,000 feet (1,200 meters)

Elevation Gain:  1,000 feet (300 meters) to top of Vernal Fall; 1,900 feet (580 meters) to top of Nevada Fall

Why Hike the Mist Trail?  This is Yosemite's signature hike. While many of Yosemite's trails are popular
due to having a single spectacular destination, the Mist Trail has fabulous views scattered all along it, beginning at the bridge overlook, progressing to two unforgettable waterfalls that fall a combined total of more than 900 feet (270 meters), and ending with perhaps the most striking of all:
the view of Nevada Fall, Liberty Cap, and the back of Half Dome from the Muir Trail return segment.

Hiking Time:  5-6 hours, depending on how far you go

Scenery Factor:  Sublime. You can get covered-with-spray close to two of Yosemite's rock-star waterfalls, and
the view looking back from the Muir Trail is just as remarkable as the trail up the falls.

Difficulty:  Medium, but bordering strenuous if you go all the way to the top of Nevada Fall. The
stretches beside Vernal and Nevada Falls are both quite steep - in fact, the last few hundred meters up the Vernal Falls trail are stairs cut into the cliffside. If you need a gentler workout, you can just
proceed as far as the bridge looking upstream to Vernal Fall without exerting yourself quite so much.

This information failed to mention that there is 600 steps on the way up Nevada falls. YES, 600 STEPS.  If I had read or known this before or during the hike up, I think I might have had other ideas.  But we are in Yosemite, and I wanted to do a hike so I pushed myself and Jason pushed me too :P all the way up the top.The waterfalls this time of year are probably 5% of the size they normally are.  So there is water, but not much of it.  Actually when we talked about it later, we hiked up the two waterfalls and didn't even take one photo of them!  The view from the top was amazing but the wildlife that we saw was probably the most exciting part of the day.  We saw soooo many squirrels, and every time I was just as excited to see them!  One ran in front of me on the path and grabbed an Acorn in its mouth, then jumped up onto a rock infront of us, pulled the Acorn out and started eating it.  I LOVE squirrels.  I wanna poke one!  One the way back down we were having a rest at the first waterfall up the top by the river.  Jason had his feet in the freezing water just chilling out then all of a sudden he is like 'Ally, ALLY come here'.  There was a bobcat about 2 metres behind him.  It didn't hang around for long but now Jason had a smile on his face like I did the first time I saw a squirrel.  It was pretty cool.

Next we went over to the waterfall edge (there is a railing) and start walking up back towards the steps heading back down.  As we get over there someone is pointing something out and it is a BEAR on the side of the rock mountainside climbing up!  Apparently someone had scared it (yes, it was scared by people not the other way round) and had bolted up the mountainside trying to get away.  It got a fair way up then figured it couldn't go any further as it was impossible to get any higher and realised it had to go back down the way it came.  So then it is trying to navigate its way down the hill without falling and killing itself, and everyone is just watching hoping this bear makes it down safely.  Meanwhile, the bottom of the mountainside where it is climbing is right next to the trail going up the waterfall!  After watching it for 20 minutes or so we decided to continue on down the trail and the million steps.  We get to the bottom of the first lot of stairs and the bear is sitting in a tree probably 5 metres high from the trail and too scared to come down because people are on the trail and taking photos, etc.  We finally decide to walk past it to get down (Ally shitting herself and Jason taking photos) and that was our bear adventure.  Pretty damn exciting! 

We were talking to a park ranger today and he said some people can come to the park for 20 years and never see a bear so we were really lucky to see one, let alone on our first day!  We also saw deer and there are woodpeckers in the trees! Jason and I heard them from our tent cabin and we were joking about woodpeckers and didn't realise they actually were!  The next day we had a chill out/try and walk/do laundry day.  Third day we went back to Yosemite and did a Park Ranger Talk about the Indians that came from this area and we also went for a walk around Yosemite Valley Floor which was nice and squirrel filled.  Yosemite has been beautiful, exciting and educational, but my legs are happy we are heading to Vegas tomorrow.
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