Traveling around some of the US has been an incredible experience so far. We have been on a tight budget and have done all kinds of things, from volunteering on organic farms to road tripping along the coast to exploring some of the big American cities. We have been very fortunate to be able to have done and seen a lot of the things we have, but keeping to our pathetic, puny budget has been a challenge to say the least. There have been many things on our list of adventures to seek out while here, but sadly we just cannot afford to make them all happen.
We recently had a two week “save” period in LA, where we tried to spend as few dollars as possible. Again, we are lucky to have so many awesome friends and family around to accommodate us. Most of them have done far more then just allow us to stay in their houses. So, while in LA we planned a five day trip to Yosemite National Park, which was something we just had to make happen.
It was an expensive trip; gas, entrance fees, camping fees and food, but I can say without a doubt that it was worth every damn penny. We had pretty big expectations, but Yosemite still managed to blow our minds. It is places like Yosemite where you are so awestruck in your surroundings, feeling insignificantly tiny, yet still so blissfully at peace.
We arrived to find that the campsite we intended to stay at was all booked up and, in somewhat of a panic, we managed to find an open site in a beautiful campsite quite far out from everything. It was really a bonus to get away from all the crowds as, even in fall time, Yosemite can be super busy.
We enjoyed the park from our car, driving to the many scenic viewpoints, but we really enjoyed it on foot when we did some much needed hiking. We did a few shorter hikes, such as the Tuolumne Grove walk to see the amazing Giant Sequoia trees and we walked around in Yosemite valley, where we could see and feel the white granite rock walls surround us in all their splendid glory.
We also attempted a more intense 16m/25km hike to the summit of a place called Clouds Rest. This was probably the best hike I have ever done, as scenically it was incredible and I literally felt like I was on top of the world. We had originally applied to do Half Dome, which is a really difficult, really popular hike where the last stretch up the dome is done climbing up a vertical rock face using cables to get to the top. We were not granted a permit however and, feeling very disappointed, we decided to hike Clouds Rest, as we had heard the views were very similar to, if not better than, Half Dome. Well, we were not disappointed at all and, though I struggled climbing for about four hours, the whole hike was so scenic, with beautiful Fall colours on all the trees against a blue sky back drop. We hardly saw anyone else on the hike until we got to the top, which was another major plus. We felt like John Muirs discovering new territories in the wilderness. Once we reached the top we were slapped in the face with the most breathtaking view of the whole park. There were snow-capped mountains and trees and valleys for miles. We ate our lunch in complete stokedness.
We got back to Tenaya Lake, where we started from, and had a refreshing swim. Again, we were met with an incredible view of the cobalt blue water in amongst the white granite rocks and green trees. It was a day to remember and we felt the love of nature surround us. The whole trip was a real magical treat and every moment there we tried to absorb and appreciate.
We also watched the climbers on El Capitan do their crazy cliff hanging thing, which was pretty damn nuts. The wildlife was great too, although we didn’t see any bears (probably a good thing, but I think we kind of over estimated the dangers of them), but we did see plenty of squirrels, coyotes, deer, elk and these ridiculously cute little critters called Chickaree Squirrels. We enjoyed campfires under the starry night skies, ate vegan camp food like kings and explored the mountains every day.
Our only bummer moment was when we witnessed a deer get hit by the car driving in front of us. We pulled over and saw that it was still in the road and looked like it was dead, but our hearts sank as we realised that we were not sure what we could do to help it. We had no cell signal to try call the park rangers, and the road was on a really busy bend, so we couldn’t really even move the poor animal from the road. We felt really depressed and it was a reminder of the harsh consequences of having road access to these beautiful, wild places. Another animal dead from the actions of our species.
However, to end this little story on a happier note, I will once again just mention how absolutely amazing nature can be and Yosemite National Park easily made it on our highlight list for our trip so far. This is one reason why I travel; to experience these parts of the world.