Friday, July 3, 2009

Yosemite, but no Sam

Up again too early, checked out & on the road north by eight. Was driving north to get to the east entrance to Yosemite National Park. Was great driving up the side of the Sierras - I was surprised to see snow still up there, but I suppose they are reasonably high - they are quite spectacular in places. Once again tried taking photos out the car window (which are now a lot filthier after all those great gravel roads over the weekend)
Started the long & winding road up to Tioga Pass & almost got to ten-thousand feet again. As I opened the window to pay to get in (I've now been to so many National Parks in the last week, that it was cheaper to upgrade to an annual pass - although what exactly I'm going to do with it now, I'm not sure) I was attacked by also sorts of horrible biting insects. So on the next few stops at picturesque lakes I covered myself in repellant & stunk for the rest of the day. The drive from the east of the park to the west (where Yosemite Valley is & where most of the tourist & vacationers go) was absolutely beautiful - nice Sequoia forests, reflective lakes, impressive granite peaks. By now I was up amongst a little snow - not something I was expecting from my Californian summer road trip.There were plenty of cars parked on various verges & lots - many people going for quite a few days hiking in Yosemite & I can see why. Joined the masses driving in to the valley & then the masses already there. Another shuttle system here to enable so many people to move around. Unlike Zion, there were plenty of people staying here in lodges or tents & having an extended stay - also saw a lot of people hiring small inflatable rafts & floating down the river. Took a small walk up to Mirror Lake - after the small mountain lakes I had seen on Tioga Pass it was rather disappointing. All the waterfalls in the park come from snowmelt - so at the start of summer they are still going. Yosemite Falls are the fifth highest in the wall & the largest in North America.I had to take a photo of this little guy because I keep forgetting to say that I have seen so many squirrels scurrying off the singletrack on my rides - this one must have been used to people as I walked right past him & he hardly flinched. The granite cliffs were spectacular (although I preferred the rock at Zion) & the largest granite monolith in the world is in Yosemite. Yosemite is the number one big wall destination for climbers in the States & apparently if you looked closely you could see them up there camping out half way up the El Capitan (1000 m) - I can't have looked closely enough.

Rest of the day spent driving two hundred miles to stay with a friend of Anna-Marie's in Berkeley. It got nice & warm (110 oF) driving from Yosemite (funny to think I had just been in snow), but I was surprised as how much cooler it was in San Francisco. But apparently the place is known for not having the weather I'm used to in San Diego & other southern California places.

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