Nat’s Travels – Walks and Waterfalls of Yosemite
After Mexico I travelled up California to San Francisco, this was not the original plan, but flights to the UK were so much cheaper from from Oakland that I couldn’t miss the opportunity. I have been to San Francisco before and fell in love with the city, so having an opportunity to go back, it was fate.
Although this time I also wanted to get out of the city. Mainly to one of the National Parks. I found a two day tour with Extranomical Tours to Yosemite. It included time with a guide and time on your own. Basically, you join a one day tour, get kicked of the bus before the return journey to San Francisco and get picked up by the one day tour the next day. Sounded good to me.
Views and Trees
Another thing that I missed when I was last in California was seeing the Redwood trees. So I was happy that on this tour we’d be seeing some.
It was a long drive to the first stop of the tour, but there were some incredible views along the way. The first stop was at Tuolumne Grove, where we could see Giant Sequoia trees.
There was a easy circular walk to do here and lots of trees. Plus lots of information.The path went past several of the giant trees. And they were massive. There was also a fallen tree that could be climbed into and a dead tree that you had to walk through. The stop made a great break from the journey.
Leaving behind the giant trees the tour took us to that iconic viewpoint, Tunnel View. From this vantage point El Capitan, Half Dome and Bridalveil Falls can all be seen. It was a stunning viewpoint.
Twenty Four Hours Alone
Well, not alone exactly, I did have my other half with me. But the next stop at Yosemite village was where I would leave the tour for exactly twenty four hours. To be picked up at the same spot the next day. So we spoke to the guide who made sure we were all sorted and told us how to get to our accommodation. He even gave us tips on storing our bags as we explored the area.
We were near Yosemite Falls, so naturally that was where I wanted to head to. I actually did a bit of a loop walk, past the falls, through a wildflower meadow and back to the village.
The falls are amazing. They are actually made up of three separate waterfalls that cascade down in sections. You can see the falls long before you are anywhere near them. It’s the Lower Yosemite Falls that you can get up close and personal with. There’s a bit of a wet zone, where you get soaked if you stay for too long. I wish I’d had an extra day to do the climb to the top of the falls. But I guess that’ll have to wait for another trip.
One thing that did rattle me though, was how many people left the path to get closer to the falls. They even had to climb a fence so you can’t say it’s not obvious that you’re not meant to do this. People really don’t understand how much damage they can cause by straying from the path.
Half Dome Village
For the night I stayed in Half Dome Village, luckily there is a free shuttle bus that circles around so it was easy to get to. The tent cabin was surprisingly spacious, and the ‘village’ had every amenity, shops, food stalls, a canteen. An amazing surprise for me was that in honour of Shakespeare’s Birthday (which it was) there was a performance of A Midsummer’s Night Dream to be played. And I had literally just arrived in time.
I love seeing a Shakespeare. And this play was great, they’d changed the setting to Yosemite and modernised a few bts, but it was still great. Puk was amazing. It made me feel like I was in an American Summer Camp, you know, the sort you see in American kids films?
The sun set during the show and night was being to draw in. So I went to the Pavillion for something to eat. It was a pretty good deal for food, they didn’t overcharge at all. I was able to choose a meat and two sides, so I had the fish, potato gratin and stewed vegetables. For essentially canteen food it was pretty good.
The next day I got up bright and early. I didn’t want to waste what time I had left in Yosemite Valley. So I took the shuttle bus and headed to Mirror Lake.
From the bus stop it was only a short walk to the seasonal lake. The lake reflects really well, hence the name. I love these types of lakes, I think they’re really pretty.
After the lake I had time to try one more walk. So I headed to Verdant Falls. The sign said that it was 1.4 miles, I thought that I had the time to go all the way. Unfortunately what the sign failed to mention is that the walk is quite a steep and tough uphill climb. So I didn’t have the time to complete the walk. Instead I managed to get to the first viewpoint before I had to turn back. Luckily the viewpoint was worth it.
Back To The Group
So the time had come to start to head back to the pick up point. First I had to head back to Half Dome Village to collect my bags. And I’m glad I did, as there was a deer in the village. She was so chilled out, not too bothered by all the people that stopped to take pictures and stare at her.
The shuttle back took much longer than the shuttle to the accommodation. I literally just made it! I was welcomed by the new guide, who pointed out which seats were free on the bus. Then we started the journey back to San Francisco. We stopped at a few more viewpoints along the way, but soon we were out of the park and on the long journey back.
Extranomical Tours (https://www.extranomical.com/) offer a variety of tours in and around San Francisco. From wine tours to trips to Yosemite National Park.
Yosemite National Park trips (https://www.extranomical.com/HTML_PAGES/YOSEMITE.htm) can be from one day to five. Taking more days allows time for self guided exploration of the park. These tours include several view point stops, Yosemite Falls and Giant Sequoia trees.