Wednesday 8 April 2015

Yosemite National Park

View of El Capitan as you enter the Yosemite Valley
I think when we were planning this trip, I had Yosemite and Yellowstone kind of confused in my head (they both start with Y, okay?) so I didn't really know what to expect from them. Turns out they're different places!

We were rather hoping for snow, since seeing the national parks in winter was kind of the point, but California was having a warm spell, so no snow for us. There was a plus side to this, since there were extremely confusing and ambiguous online rules about having snow chains on your tyres to enter the park - and you can't put snow chains on a hire car. On the down side however, given we were there on a weekend, that everyone in San Fransisco had decamped for Yosemite. We saw some interesting tourist behaviour, like a guy who, having had a friend take about 300 photos of him in front of the same bit of rock, took his shirt off to get a further 300 photos in front of the same rock, only this time with no shirt on, and a mother who pushed her perhaps 8-year-old daughter ever closer to a clearly nervous fully grown male deer, stacked to the rafters with antlers, so she could get a good photo. Hmmm. It's moments like that you really wish you weren't a 'tourist' because it's a word that puts you into a group with some serious idiots.

Vernal falls
Generally though, if you're willing to walk a little further afield (or wake up really early - or sleep in the car when your husband wakes up really early), you can find some quieter spots and they are seriously lovely. The animals are really used to people too. Not in the 'you're human, feed me' sense, just not likely to run off the moment they see you, so we could sit and watch the coyotes and deer for ages. Even the birds seemed less skittish.

There's a famous rock called Half Dome and a bridge which is 'supposed' to be the best spot for taking sunset photos. So, around sunset we obediently lined up on the bridge with a number of other photographers and their tripods and large cameras. Ansel Adams took some corkers of this view, and it gets really lovely reflections off the river. But as sunset progressed, it was clear nothing particularly sensational was going to happen. We went further out of the park to where there's a view back over the park and jostled with a whole heap of photographers (including one who was giving instructions to a girl he was with and was such an arrogant jerk about it. Questioning Will later, he said the advice he was giving was rubbish too). So, the following day we scouted around and found another place, completely undiscovered. We took photos over an hour or so while the light turned the rocks orange, blue and purple. They're the last photos in the gallery and we had the view all to ourselves. Pretty nice.

[Click on any photo to view as a slideshow]

Mule Deer
Steller's Jay
Eurasian Sparrowhawk
The valley walls reflect well off Merced River
Giant Blue Heron
Mirror Lake
Mirror Lake
Tenaya Creek cascades

El Capitan and Half Dome from Tunnel View Lookout
El Capitan, Bridalveil Falls and Half Dome from Tunnel View Lookout
Upper and lower Yosemite Falls
Yosemite Falls rainbow
California Ground Squirrel
Bridalveil Falls

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