Wednesday, 4 May 2011


And so starts Adam's history lesson. "Do you know where the name Yosemite comes from?"

"No," I reply. "Tell me."

"Well, it comes from the Indian tribes that used to live here."

"Ok, that makes sense."

"Yes, it was the call they made they were ready to eat: 'Yo-some-eaty'!" Followed by much guffawing.

I was also interested to find out that the word 'gullible' had been removed from the Oxford English Dictionary...

Anyways, he was right about one thing. It has Indian origins, although Google comes up with a few definitions: 1) it came from the name of the Miwok tribe that translates to 'those who kill'; 2) it translates as 'great falls'; and 3) it is the Indian name for grizzly bear.

I can't tell you which (if any) is correct. I can tell you that we saw no bears. Kind of a disappointment, I suppose, but it's hard to feel that way for long when you're surrounded by landscape like this.

On our first fall day, after a pretty dang ok buffet breakfast (Adam marvelled at the vat of hot maple syrup), we decided to do the Upper Yosmite Fall hike. We didn't go to the top, which was 3.4 miles as it says below; we chose to go to the base of the falls - a three or four-mile round trip.

Considering it was freeze-your-ass cold in the tent when we got up, we thought we were rather wise layering up. Wrong. By the time we'd got the beginning of the trail we were stripping. It must've been at least 18 degrees C in the day. Which is HOT when you're climbing up hill constantly for an hour and a half.

The map said it was a strenuous hike. It wasn't wrong. No smooth uphills for us, but constant steps up and switchbacks for the first mile or so. Ow.

Ok, so this doesn't look that steep. But check out the next pic. See the people on the left of the picture above Adam? Yeah, that's quite a gradient. *Huff puff*

Can't knock the view, though. That's Half Dome. Something you will never find me hiking up. I think it's best viewed from afar...

A while (and a lot of sweat) later, we were rewarded with the sight we'd been waiting for.

The snow melt was at its height I think, so this bad boy was raging. It's hard to get a sense of the size of this thing, but if you look to the top of the picture and see the teeny (MASSIVE) fir trees on the top of the cliff then that should help with the perspective. As we walked around the corner of the mountain to be met with this sight, the temparature dropped suddenly. Quite the sensory overload.

And back down we went. It look a while... (see the valley floor way down in the pic below). My quad and butt muscles were a-quivering!

Lower Yosemite Fall was equally as impressive from the bottom. And it involved no climb.

We'd have liked to have seen Vernal Fall as well, but it was on the other side of the valley and the road was closed the day we wanted to go there. Next time.

The next day we went to Mariposa Grove. BIG TREES or sequoias to use their actual name. And this pic isn't even from the bottom (Ad has better pics with his wide angle lens but RAW files don't load too well on this ickle laptop). These trees are as tall as a 19-story building, a Boeing 747 and the Statue Of Liberty. Gurt.

It wasn't just the trees that were big. Fir cone the size of your foot, anyone?

It took about an hour to drive back from the south of the park to the valley near the centre - the park is that big - and we passed Bridalveil Fall and El Capitan on the way.

Our little canvas tent served us well for the three nights we stayed in Yosemite, even if I did complain the hell out of having to stay in a freezing tent on the first night. Thanks to our $15 Walmart sleeping bags, though, we were toasty warm. In fact, on the third night I had to remove my two pairs of socks in the early hours. Now that's $15 well spent.

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