TRIP DAY 21
Sunday 25th September, 2011
Mammoth Lakes is a fascinating place but was an unexpected part of our itinerary so we really didn't have time to make the most of it. We did manage however to squeeze in a beautiful drive on winter-closed roads to the National monument the "Devils Postpile" first thing in the morning before we checked out, plus we hiked and yes, the kids got another junior ranger badge!
We could easily see a lot of fun could be had here but its high elevations of course but that doesn't seem to stop the many athletes we see. In fact I picked up a brochure here called "high altitude training" and read about the many triathlon clubs in the area that use this as a training base. We saw loads of MTB riders, climbers and hikers.
After our morning adventure and 11am checkout we started our short drive to Yosemite (45mins) - but we seem to be able to make a full day adventure out of any short distance and sure enough we spent 6 hours! First, we took a scenic diversion around the June Lakes and Mono Lake and craters. Then we headed up the iconic Tioga Pass and found numerous photo stops and then a bit of accessible (!) snow off the road so as the kids had never seen snow we stopped the car and headed for it. It was a long and arduous romp over boulders etc and it was cold and windy but the kids had a ball. We lost a lot of time but it was worth it. Further on we stopped for a scenic picnic lunch out of our esky overlooking a cold looking lake and then made our final approach to Yosemite through the eatern entrance. What an amazing place we found. We knew we still had another hour and half of driving as our motel was outside the park in El Portal but we needed to stop at the first ranger/visitor station to sort out the ranger program for the kids of course. It was 3pm exactly and we had timed it perfectly to catch a ranger led session about the park's animals so the girls got their first tick in the program easily and we learned some interesting facts about bears, deer, coyote, golden eagles etc.
The ranger then helped us plan the remainder of our day as our drive to our lodging meant we'd get to drive past the most scenic parts of the national park and see sights that are inaccessible during winter and see parts of the park that most tourists never see. What amazed us most were the huge numbers of rock climber tourists - some serious climbs were going on right in front of our eyes and it was spectacular country. The drive however was hard work for David - hours on end of switch backs and heavy braking through inclines and declines on narrow single-lane road through the whole sierra country and throughout the Yosemite National Park.
So by the time we'd arrived at our motel we were rather weary but feeling very much in awe of Yosemite. We cooked a meal in our hotel room (new york
steaks and steamed vegies) and got ready for our hiking the next day.
TRIP DAY 22
Monday 26th September, 2011
We'd chosen the most extreme hike in the park which required a shuttle bus up to Glacier Point then a 9 mile hike mostly downhill (sounds easy huh! well it wasn't!!!). We passed through varied terrains and travelled to both the top and bottom of 3 incredible waterfalls. Nevada Falls, Illouette Falls and then Vernal Falls. The girls were amazing again and in the end after a total of 5 hours 50 mins of hiking it was me who could walk another step - my knees gave in from the extreme downhill pressure (age). I complained and hobbled for the last hour of the hike but it really was worth it I assure you. I can't wait to publish some of the beautiful photos I've taken but the internet service I have here is terrible so will return to this blog in a few days to add the pics.... don't miss it, they're gorgeous! We bought a bottle of lovely Zimphandel and had a dip in the heated pool and spa before I made another meal in our room - terriyaki chicken breasts and vegies. Sooo good to eat our own food again!