It’s finally time to recount our great US adventures during the summer 2015. Not everything went as we planned to (see there) but that’s the great beauty of traveling :“always expect the unexpected!”
The first stop of our American roadtrip was Yosemite National Park.
We left Thursday night for Dimond O. Campground* with our jam-packed car (4 people on board + camping gear + foods + luggage = full car), and we really had only one day to visit Yosemite.
* our camping experience is related here on the blog !
Of course, one day is very short to visit such a big park. However, in this unique day we managed to avoid the summer crowd and experienced the landscapes and sites that make Yosemite so famous.
Tuolumne Meadows & Cathedral Lakes Trail
In the morning we explored Tuolumne Meadows, the eastern part of Yosemite park, only accessible through Tioga road during the summer (the road is otherwise closed from October to May).
We stopped on the way to Olmstead Point, that offered great vista on Tenaya Canyon and the iconic Half-Dome. The glacial erratics were impressive. These huge boulders were left behind by the passing of glaciers which carved the granite surroundings into their present-day form.
Also for the story, Olmstead was the name of the landscape architect who conceived Central Park in New York City. An ardent defender of nature, he has contributed to the preservation of Yosemite park, hence the tribute paid to him.
We then started the 4 hours roundtrip hike leading to the Cathedral Lakes, two beautiful High Sierra alpine lakes. The first 1 hour climb under the hot sun was strenuous. But later, on the forest path, we met squirrels, rabbits and small streams and we enjoyed the thrilling views of the surrounding mountains.
We finally crossed a lovely grassy plain before reaching the first lake, Lower Cathedral Lake, of an intense azure color. It was a beautiful setting for a well-deserved lunch break.
It was so hot outside that we even swam in the lake, despite its cool temperature (the lake water came directly from the glacier of Yosemite mountains… ).
We didn’t continue the hike till the second Upper Cathedral Lake, which is said to be even more beautiful (count 2 more hours roundtrip). Instead we basked in the sun and then returned back to explore Yosemite Valley in the afternoon.
Iconic Yosemite Valley
In the afternoon we set off to explore Yosemite Valley and its iconic views. From Tuolumne Meadow to Yosemite Village, it took us almost an hour and a half drive.
Do not underestimate the time and distances it takes driving to get from one point to another inside the park ! And especially NEVER forget to fill up your gas tank before entering the park as the gas station are scarce.
The road to Yosemite Village offered nothing but scenic perspectives and amazing outlooks on the whole valley and its emblematic mountains – El Capitan and Half-Dome.
And when we finally arrived at the foot of El Capitan, we simply felt dumbstruck. This huge vertical rock wall – every climber’s ultimate dream – seemed infinite and made us feel so small and insignificant…
In the sweltering heat of Yosemite village, we mixed again [with some displeasure] with the touristic crowd.
There we gazed from afar at the vertiginous Yosemite falls. One of the most popular and Yosemite’s oldest historic trail, the hike to the Lower et Upper Falls offers a very steep climb. It leads to the top of North America’s tallest waterfall, which rises 2,425 feet (739 m) above the Valley floor.
We set off then again to Glacier Point, one of Yosemite’s most spectacular viewpoint.
Along the Wawona road, we stopped at Tunnel View, my favorite viewpoint (a terrific one!) of Yosemite Valley. From here you can see El Capitan and Bridalveil Fall rising from Yosemite Valley, with Half Dome in the background.
The road to Glacier Point was surprisingly long and winding. The panorama was however well worth the time as it provided a commanding view of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and Yosemite’s high country.
This is how our fabulous one day visit to Yosemite National Park came to an end, with these incredible views and landscapes forever imprinted in our memories.
For more information and to help you organize your own visit to Yosemite National Park:
… download the map: here
… consult the official website: http://www.nps.gov/yose/index.htm
… consult the detailed description of Cathedral Lakes Hike : http://www.yosemitehikes.com/tioga-road/cathedral-lakes/cathedral-lakes.htmand discover more about camping in the US wilderness (what to expect and how to prepare) in this article !