We woke to cloudy skies, but were soon enveloped in sunshine as we drove along Route 41 towards Yosemite National Park. We didn’t go the most straightforward way from Monterey, approaching instead from the South Entrance so that we could visit Mariposa Grove on our way to the hotel.
As we ate up the miles I decided to be brave and take a turn at driving! I had never driven an automatic before and never driven on the ‘wrong side’ of the road either, so it was a little terrifying to start with! However, I soon got into the ‘groove’ and it allowed Hugh to look at the fantastic scenery as we travelled along.
We arrived at Oakhurst at lunchtime so decided to visit the Yosemite Sierra Visitors Centre there to get the Yosemite free guide, use their bathroom facilities and eat our picnic lunch. We stepped out of the car and whoa! The heat! We hadn’t noticed how hot it had got as we were driving along as we had the air conditioning on. It was 79F, which we are just not used to! The people in the tourist centre were lovely and helpful and we had quite a chat with them, and Hugh found out that there was a steam railway on the route we were going!
So, of course we had to stop off at the Sugar Pine Railroad! Although we had missed the last steam train of the day (it was being put to bed in the shed) Hugh was able to have a look at it in the shed and a long chat with one of the engineers.
After our brief sojourn it was onwards through the South Entrance of Yosemite and a right turn up to Mariposa Grove, where ancient giant sequoias live. We parked up and decided to do the hike through the grove – our aim was to do the whole circuit, time permitting. The trees were stunning. The early part of the hike was easy – not too steep, with many sequoias to stand and stare at and of course, Califorinia Tunnel Tree to have our photo taken at.
Having walked through the tree we continued on our hike – going higher and higher through stunning woodland, and with there being fewer and fewer people, which was lovely – we had the grove to ourselves most of the time. We had intended on completing the whole loop, but by the time we arrived at the little museum (see below) we were quite tired and knew that we had to walk all the way back down again! So we didn’t get to see the Fallen Wawona Tunnel Tree, or the Telescope tree, but we felt that we had seen many excellent specimens of these splendid trees!
|We walked the highlighted route, but didn't take the loop to the right at the top|
As it had taken us about an hour and half to walk up and it was, by then 4.30pm, we decided to make our return journey so that we wouldn’t end up getting to the hotel too late! Having walked up through all the trees, we decided to return part way along the road before cutting back through onto the track. Amazingly we saw more wildlife walking along the road than we had walking through the trees! (OK, there was no traffic on the road and we were the only people, so that was probably no surprise!).
There were also more photo opportunities for tree hugging
and wonderful tree shots
Arriving back at the car park we staggered over to the small shop and bought a refreshing ice lolly each! We had drunk gallons of water during the walk, but of course it had got very warm, so it was so lovely to eat a frozen ice lolly!
It was then time to get back into the car and make our way to our hotel at El Portal, which was just outside the Arch Rock Entrance. We actually drove through Yosemite to get to the hotel and not long after leaving Mariposa Grove we drove through a tunnel and came upon this view:
We were stunned and obviously had to stop the car and take loads of photos! When we could drag ourselves away we drove very slowly through the Park, soaking in the views as we went and really looking forward to our full day in the park the next day.
Our hotel was probably the most basic of all the ones we stayed in during our trip. However, it was clean and the bed was comfy – bliss! We were exhausted, but couldn’t resist sitting on the balcony for a short while to take in the view.