BIG mountains of yosemite

Trip Start Feb 07, 2010
Trip End Feb 25, 2010

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Flag of United States  , California
Thursday, February 11, 2010

Everything was up and go by about 8am, and after some
oatmeal with fruit for me and eggs, avocado and tomato on a pancake for Matt
(they ran out of bread... tch) the group was pretty much off from Bug to the
Yosemite National Park. This turned out to be a good 25 miles away, so it
actually was a bit of a drive (through lovely scenery) to get to it. The
freezing cold rain seemed localised to the hostel, lucky for us! We feared
hikes in pouring rain... ugh.

Instead we arrived and saw... snow! It really sprang up
out of nowhere, there was absolutely no sign of anything icy, then we pay to
get into Yellowstone and it’s all about! Well of course I loved it, had to go
and stomp in it some before I got too cold ;) It was all crunchy semi-frozen
snow, so clearly it hadn’t been actively snowing for a while before we arrived.
It was forecast maximum of 6degC too, so it was a bit warm for anymore snow to
come down. Yosemite is one of the great national parks of the USA, up there
with Grand Canyon and Yellowstone. We headed for Yosemite Valley, which is
basically an area of granite and rock which has been carved out by some ancient
glacier, leaving looming peaks of grey and white, dotted with pines and
waterfalls. It was all so enormous and beautiful, really touching – and so
peaceful! Due to our winter timetable, turns out the place was half abandoned,
suiting us just fine. This did mean that half the attractions/shops were shut,
but really we were there for the scenery, right?

At the Yosemite Visitor Centre (containing some really
cool animal and geological displays) most of the group split up, the only rule
being to return to the van at 5pm. First we headed up the longest “easy” trail
called Mirror Lake / Meadow, several other girls headed the same way too but we
lost them due to our slow plod through the snow :P Not to mention the million
photo stops! I couldn’t get enough :D

Mirror Lake didn’t quite live up to its name for us, but
that might be because it was half frozen. Apparently in the warmer months it is
a very still, clear, beautiful lake with the most amazing reflection of Half
Dome and .. um... that other gorgeous peak nearby XD It was still stunning
though. We decided to take a different loop back, one which left the sealed
trail and went over rocks and stuff – I was far more at home clambering through
muds and rocks than sliding from snow over bitumen! It was a great deal of fun,
and really really beautiful (have I mentioned yet how beautiful it was? Lol).
It took a fair bit longer, and ended up doubling the distance the map reckoned
the walk should be! But I think it was worth it.

We took the shuttle bus across the valley floor to the
Ahwahnee, a hotel/museum with a bar that was serving food and hot chocolate (my
primary interests!). The decor was meant to be all about native Indians, and
there was museum-like displays set up through the ground floor to be enjoyed
and pondered over (including the largest, most warm and wonderful fireplace I
have ever seen! Oh wait maybe I am biased, I was bloody freezing), however we
didn’t get much of a chance to look around as we had more scenery to see! After
missing the next shuttle bus, we picked out a trail which led to the Yosemite
Lower Falls (the entire waterfall is the tallest in the USA) and headed out.
This turned out to be as much fun as the Mirror Lake alternative trail, but by
this stage I was pretty damn knackered so it was really tiring. One thing kept
me going... Squirrels!! Oh they are so cute and funny!

The lower falls is, as the name implies, the lower half of
the entire Yosemite Falls. We were unable to see the upper falls due to cloud
cover, not to mention by this stage a bit of rain had sprung up so it’s not
like we wanted to wait around for the cloud to move. It was still a beautiful
fall, with clear water cascading over polished rocks. Our trail led us then to
the Yosemite Lodge, where they had stopped serving food (and therefore no more
hot chocolate! What?! D:), but it was getting close to time to head for the
van. So we waited in the cold for the shuttle bus, and eventually got back to
the village gift centre. I’m sorry to say I didn’t buy anyone any gifts, but I
got for myself some yummy caramel popcorn and a coupla post cards :D

Mike had planned for us to get pizza at a nice place in
the valley, but they were shut for winter (oh because nobody wants a nice hot
pizza when it’s cold... wait, what?), so we went to some hotel outside the
valley and their pizza bar was also shut, but their bar was open and they
served pizza so we stopped here for an early dinner :P Actually, Matt and I
went for the burgers – I think our stomachs will turn into burgers before this
trip finished – but everyone else enjoyed a good pizza. A few drinks later, I
was warm and ready for bed. The drive got us back here around 7:30pm, and now
I’m writing this wrapped up in bed after taking a nurofen and snacking on some
caramel corn :D Matt’s headed off for the girl’s dorm to enjoy a couple of
beers (I know what you’re thinking.. it’s okay, Mike is there! What, of course
that makes it better, lol) but I’m too buggered. So I think it is a really
early night for me... That’s what 11.5km of clambering on rocks does to an
unfit lass like me!

Good night all... Photos as soon as we get somewhere with
reliable internet, I promise XD


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