One of my most anticipated trips since I so badly wanted to visit this place from almost 5 yrs. For some reason or the other, I was unable to visit Yosemite. According to National Geographic (Link), it is the third most visited national park. Staying so close to the park, I feel guilty for not having visited it.
Courtesy: Google Maps
We started our journey on Saturday early morning (early in our language means 7 AM or so). We get up so early even on holidays that people wonder what’s wrong with us. I should thank my hubby for inculcating this habit of getting up early in the morning. Anyway, we headed towards Bodie town, which was built during the gold rush time. The drive was very scenic on 108 and then 395.
Bodie Ghost Town
Gold mining was done here as well as the processing of the ore. The last stretch of the road to Bodie was really horrible. It is on a steep mountain with nothing on one side, except for a deep valley. To top it, we have dirt mud road for almost 3 miles or so.
This old car is so famous that I had to take a picture of the car. We took a tour of the mill stamp, where the gold ore was processed. It was interesting to know how in those days they used to work day in and out to get gold bricks out of the ore. The guide gave a lot of information about the mill, how they used stamps to extract gold and also the town in general. Once it was over, we took a look at the houses and churches in the town. The park closes at 6 PM so it was time to head back.
After Bodie, we headed to Mono lake which is famous for tufas. These are again formed due to volcanic formations. I love the west coast, mainly because of the earth’s plates which have resulted in such beautiful formations and places. We went to couple of view points but South Tufa viewpoint was the best. Sun was setting when we reached so we were able to catch some beautiful colors in the sky and on the water. I never saw sky turn red and then purple like I saw here.
From Wikipedia, Tufa is a variety of limestone, formed by the precipitation of carbonate minerals from ambient temperature water bodies.
Next day, we headed towards Yosemite valley via Tioga pass which is open seasonally only in summer. It was opened just last week so we were lucky to catch those beautiful mountains, valley, creeks, lakes and waterfalls. It is the highest road in California. The drive is too beautiful and probably one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Some of the mountains still had snow on them and the scenery was so mesmerizing that I swore to visit this place again and stay at least for a night here, amidst all the mountains and forests. This was the highlight of the trip. After seeing this, everything else that we saw on this trip was not-as-great-as-this. Highway 120 is very scenic if you are driving from Mono lake side to the valley. But the drive from valley back to bay area is not that scenic via 120 and then 108.
Once we reached the valley, we were treated to some amazing views of El Capitan and Half dome. We also got a glimpse of Yosemite falls and many more falls. There are supposedly 10 waterfalls here. But I have a confession to make. I did not find the valley as “great” as other people made it sound like. I really like Tioga pass but valley was good and not great, according to me and hubby. We were kind of disappointed to see that “this was all the hype was about”. I don’t know why but I get disappointed with anything that is over-hyped. Same thing happened with Niagara Falls, I was not much impressed with it. Something seems to be wrong with me 🙂
Anyway, I loved all the falls that we laid our eyes on. Each of them was so huge and falling from such a height. Most of these falls drop vertically, almost in a straight line fashion.
Glacier point gave a very good view of the entire valley from a height. It was good and pretty scenic.
We also saw Tunnel view which is a famous view of the valley, where you can see half dome and El Capitan side by side. I don’t have a good picture of the place since we were in a hurry and I did not take a single shot of the entire view.
We headed to Wawona Hotel for lunch and then visited the Sequoia trees at Maripose Grove. These trees are supposed to be the biggest living things on Earth, the biggest trees on this planet. They were indeed huge and look very much like Redwoods, except that their trunks are wider. We took a tram tour of the grove and there was a recorded narration that was interesting. I learnt a lot about these trees thanks to the tour. Some things like the only way these trees can die is through fire, they are very much immune to all these pests that attack other trees. Also the fact that even if the trunk is hollow, these trees can still survive. Because the trunk is there just for structural support and water and other things are supplied through bark. Some of these trees are too huge in size, but they are not as tall as redwoods. Also Redwoods grow on the coastal areas while Sequoias do not.
Next day, we went to see some of the lakes – Lake Mary, Horseshoe lake, Twin lakes etc. All these lakes were beautiful and have camping facilities available right next to the lake.
After that we saw this row of jagged peaks from a viewpoint nearby.
Devils Postpile National monument
You are not allowed to drive on your own to this monument. You need to take a shuttle bus which takes you through some narrow steep roads. After getting down from the bus, you need to hike for some 0.4 miles to see this beautiful structure, formed because of lava flow. When the lava cooled, it took the form of these basalt columns which are hexagonal in shape. It was very interesting to see and learn more about these structures. There was a longer hike which would take us to the top of this structure but we did not have enough time to complete that.
After that, it was time to head back home since our three day vacation had come to an end. On the way back on 120, there are two roads going downhill. One of them called Old Priest grade is too steep and goes right next to the water pipeline. We also learnt that some amount of water that we use daily comes from Yosemite. Most of the vehicles that go on that road have a brake failure. Thankfully we avoided that and took a longer route.
I would love to visit Yosemite again and spend couple of nights there hiking and trekking next time. This time we could not do much of hiking because of lack of time since we wanted to cover lot of places in one single trip.