Trip Start Apr 01, 2013
Trip End Jun 28, 2013

Flag of United States  , California
Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Apart from the fact that the weather was brilliant, all blue skies and sunshine, the day didn't start particularly well. Firstly, I needed to be up at 5.00am as I was being picked up by a shuttle at 5.50am. I had diligently set two alarms the night before to ensure I wouldn't sleep in.

One of my alarms woke me up and I started to get ready for my big day ahead. I was doing a day trip to Yosemite National Park. The tour would last around 16 hours and I wouldn't be back at the hostel until after 9pm. Big feckin day !

Once I had finished making myself look beautiful which obviously wasn't that difficult, my other alarm went off. Something wasn't right and as it turned out, it was the hostel alarm clock time which was actually half an hour fast. I had actually been woken up at 4.30am. No wonder I was feeling so bloody tired. I had only had about four and a half hours sleep.

I pissed around and headed downstairs just before the scheduled pick-up time. The bus turned up on time and we spent the next 40 minutes picking up other people from various hotels.

It was a four and a half hour drive to the Yosemite National Park however we stopped half way at a place called Oakdale for wee's, a bite to eat and to stock up on supplies. I had a ripper ham and cheese roll and a large coffee to help wake me up. I also grabbed a couple of bottles of water to keep me going.

We carried on to a place called Tuolumne Grove, one of the homes of the giant Sequoia trees. Sequoia trees are part of the Redwood family of trees and are massive. They even dwarf the largest pine and fur trees which surround them. Their trunks can reach over 7 metres in diameter. The Sequoia tree is now a protected species although it is grown commercially also.

The grove was in a beautiful setting and our guide gave us an option of either walking about a mile into the forest down a sharp incline or just waiting up the top with the bus. I hadn't paid the money to sit next to the bus to be fair so I started the trek down with the other passengers, minus the larger (fatter) American contingent and a couple of older Indians.

It was a nice walk down to the grove because it was downhill. The second half of the journey seriously looked like a different proposition.

These trees were massive and the photos just don't do them justice. There was a dead sequoia tree which had a tunnel cut through its trunk for people to walk through. That gives you some idea of the size of these bad boys. There was also an uprooted tree which allowed you to see the root structure and you could even walk inside it. Feck that - full of bloody bugs it was !!

I started my climb back up the track in the direction of the bus. We were at an elevation of 4,000 feet above sea level so the oxygen was a little thinner so there was a fair amount of puffing on my part. I made it to the top, looking like a shadow of my former self. I had certainly got a good sweat up, that's for sure. The large American's and the old Indians looked very refreshed however.

I returned to the bus, grateful for a seat, and we drove for another couple of hours into Yosemite Valley. Our next stop would have to be one of the most spectacular pieces of scenery I have ever seen. It was truly postcard material. The outlook included the Bridalveil Falls, Half Dome and El Capitan .

El Capitan is the largest granite monolith in the world. Suffice to say, it is bloody impressive. Half Dome is also made of granite and is equally impressive.

After we had all taken some photos, we carried on further into the valley. We stopped again for some more photos from the base of the valley and got our first view of the Yosemite Falls which is the highest waterfall in North America. Also bloody impressive.

We carried on to our lunch stop which was about a 15 minute walk away from the base of the lower section of the Yosemite Falls. I wasn't too hungry as I had been snacking on my supplies whilst on the bus so I just grabbed an ice cream and made my way to the base of the Yosemite Falls. It was a popular spot with plenty of people wading in the river which the falls flow into. I joined the crowd in the river to provide my feet with some welcomed relief.

The scenery was unbelivable. I would definitely come back here given the opportunity. It would be great to spend a couple of nights over summer but would be as cold as a frogs tit in the winter.

I jumped back on the bus for the return journey to San Francisco. We stopped briefly at the base of El Capitan and could see climbers scaling the cliff face. Bloody idiots is all I can say !

It was a pretty uneventful trip back to San Francisco. We stopped again at Oakdale for dinner. I had KFC which tasted quite a bit different than what we get in NZ. And I don't mean in a good way.

Our driver and tour guide was awesome and provided us with extensive commentary on the history of Yosemite, San Francisco and California as a whole, throughout the tour.

The sun was setting just as we were arriving back into the San Francisco Bay area and our driver took us to a great photo location just before we were to cross the Bay Bridge.

I got dropped off about 9.30pm and felt pretty shattered.

After a bit of skyping, it was pillow-time.

Over and out !
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