The most amazing part of the trip was our 3 days in Yosemite. It is just magnificent. Everywhere you look is a beautiful view. The biggest downfall of this part of the trip was being 3 ½ months pregnant. I just did not feel my best and after most hikes I would end up throwing up. Not so fun. But that was not going to get in our way of doing the hikes we wanted to go on. Upon arriving to Yosemite we immediately went to the visitor centre. At the visitor center we met park ranger Shelton Johnson. This man loves his job more than anybody we have met before. He pointed us in the right direction and if we weren’t already excited to be there he made sure we were cranked up to 11. The first afternoon we did a very popular trail called “The Mist Trail”. This leads up to Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls. Given the time we had we only made it up to Vernal Falls. We had the great opportunity to stay in a cabin within the park in Foresta. There was a forest fire(s) in the park and we were warned that we may be evacuated during our stay, fortunately we were not.
The next day we drove on Tioga Pass to hike to Cathedral Lakes. This was a long but beautiful drive just to get to the trail head, which starts around 8500 feet above sea level and ends up just below 10,000 feet above sea level. Once to the top of the trail you arrive at a beautiful lake with granite peaks surrounding it. We met another couple up there who wanted their picture taken. They said to us, “Just don’t run away with our camera!” We kept chatting with them and said we were from Canada. She was originally from Canada too and responded, “If I knew you were Canadian I wouldn’t have said not to run away with the camera!” It should be noted that you almost always had to watch were you put your next step on the trail due to the tremendous amount of bear poo. However, we never saw a single bear. As a reward we treated ourselves to a visit to Tuolumne Meadows Grill & Store for some burgers, fries and Coke. At places like this you see all different types of people converging into one place. You see people who spend their summers during college working at the park. You see people who dedicate their time to rock climbing and long distance hiking, back country campers, young families on road trips and retired couples feeling young again. Everyone is here experiencing this great place at their own speed and ability and they all love it just the same.
The following day was a bit slower; we started off by going to see some big trees. You see redwoods all over the place already, but the sequoias in Mariposa Grove were on a different level. Our timing was perfect; we were there just before a rush of tourists and were able to spend some time alone in the trees. The images of the trees speak for themselves. All of God’s creation is great, but seeing things different than that of home is especially great.
In the afternoon we went to Taft Point. This is a location where people have been known to BASE jump from in Yosemite. (There is a carving in the edge of the granite that says “Fly Free”) Besides about a six foot long railing, you are really on your own out there to watch your own step. Even walking 20 feet from the edge of the cliff is daunting. If my calculations are correct it is approximately 4000 feet to the valley floor.
That evening we ended our time by going to Glacier Point to view the sunset against the impressive granite rock of Half Dome and the other surrounding peaks of Yosemite. It was quite busy at this time of day. There was a park ranger explaining the effects of forest fires as there was one burning across the valley due to human causes. Airplanes flew overhead through the smoke dropping water trying to extinguish the flames. They were able to contain it a few days later, but it looked like a thimble of water being poured out over the smoke. The sunset at Glacier Point was a great way to end our time in the park. However, we decided we were not done yet with Yosemite. We set our alarm for 5am the next morning to get up in the dark and drive an hour of twisting roads back to Glacier Point to see the sunrise. This was easily worth it. Compared to the previous evening there was hardly anyone there. The other noticeable difference from evening to morning was the silence. People spoke in a hush whisper to one another as we waiting for the sun to come up. Sunsets do require some effort to watch, but a sunrise you really have to work for to get to see a good one. Everyone there was enjoying a gift from God by observing his creation (whether they knew it or not).
To cap off our trip we drove back across the state to end up just north of San Francisco in the Point Reyes National Seashore. We picked this destination based on very little information besides a short video Brian saw before. We stayed in the town of Inverness. With very little expectation we unpacked our bags at our hotel and headed out for some exploring. The contrast of this place compared to that of which we came from was large. Yosemite was HOT. Point Reyes had almost Scottish weather. We drove around on some winding roads in the fog with the sun pushing through occasionally. We saw signs for a beach and drove toward it. We parked in an almost empty parking lot and started walking down toward the beach. There were a couple of fishing boats in the bay and a very strong smell of fish in the air. I’d say these guys were fishing in the right area. Once we turned around and started walking back up to our car we heard an unexplainable sound. Brian told me he thought it was a bird. We kept walking and saw elk all around us, Tule Elk to be specific. It turns out this was a Tule Elk Preserve. Again, it was quite foggy so we weren’t too sure what we were into. There were a few bucks around and they wanted us to know that they did not want us there. They were big and beautiful and it was great to be able to be so near to them.
Our second day we went to the Point Reyes Lighthouse. Expecting to see beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean we saw beautiful views of fog invading the coastline. We were told that this day of cold temperatures and heavy fog was typical of summertime and if you wanted clear skies to come back in the winter. We went down all 308 steps to the lighthouse and heard the wind howl, it was quite different from even a few kilometers inland. For some ‘happy hour’ snacks we went to the Cowgirl Creamery. We enjoyed some ridiculous double cream cheese and some sparkling orange San Pellegrino. We still talk about this cheese even today. Our last day was spent by hiking around the “unauthorized” trails of Point Reyes National Seashore. These trails provided up close and personal views of the Pacific Ocean.
We wrapped up our day by going to Sausalito. This is a small town in the hills along the San Francisco Bay. With a beautiful marina and plenty of walkways along the water, it was a relaxing way to wrap up a great trip.