21.11.2012 - 25.11.2012 0 °C
Yosemite Day 1: a long drive took us into the chilling night of Yosemite National Park. In pitch darkness we wove through the mountains totally unaware of our surroundings. Can't say it wasn't stressful and Tully was silenced after the second loud exclaim from seeing roadside wildlife... Coyote and deer! Thankfully and finally we found a place to camp and after signs of continued warnings we reluctantly chose to follow them and put all of our food in the outdoor BEAR lockers. So we prepared our first forest meal in close to pitch darkness until we hear a rustling at the bear locker... With bears obviously top of mind after all of the warnings on the way, we both shoot up and stare into the darkness in the direction of and within 1m position of where we stand fearing the worst that we are un-be-known facing a 2m tall grizzly bear. After what feels like an eternity we stumble to get the flash light in the same direction and there it is with one arm reaching into our locker a knee high RACOON!!!!
Day 2: We woke to discover the day was Thanks Giving and the once empty park was filling up fast with no space for our brightly painted van. thankfully we were adopted by 30 years seasoned neighbours Keith and Linda who generously offered to let us stay with them and give thanks with us at their evening meal.... Ideal! We climbed 11km that day uphill to the top of Nevada Falls and practically ran back down having promised to be there for the cook off at 3. In great company we listened to their stories, ate their turkey and went on their walks just what we needed to get into the swing of camping in freezing temperatures. Their visiting friends Rick and Mary made for a enjoyable thanks giving!
Yosemite Day 3: legs aching from the previous days accent we chose to spend a day in the valley enjoying the recreational facilities of Camp Curry and got up close to families of grazing deer. We visited Upper and lower Yosemite Falls and thought that watching the sunset a second night in a row would be just as riveting.... It wasn't and we bailed early.
Day 4: up at 6.30 we woke to Keith an Linda's famous hot camp lattes to get us on the road! We were sad to leave the comfort of our new friends but it was time to venture out alone and we made Sequoia and Kings Canyon by lunch time. The worlds largest tree was just as impressive as it sounds who'd have thought a bit of wood could give you goosebumps!!! It was 40' wide and the size of a lighthouse- General Grant. The worlds biggest tree funnily enough is called General Sherman but 2 hours out of our way the 3rd largest sufficed. The Panoramic View of Sierra Nevada mountains was up there with the best we've seen. The sky was so blue it was almost violet, the clouds dropped just enough not as to hide the canyon floor but give the view a mystic feel. Giving up the bear hunt we were pleased to spot a print in the snow, probably as close as you want to come to a spotting anyway despite us discovering they are black bears and not grizzlies! That night following the tips and lessons we'd learned from Keith and Linda out first night in the wilderness alone was more BEARable.
Death Valley was 6 hours away so we got out early to ensure we had some daylight left on arrival. With sunset at 4.30pm it leaves our days short. We saw Mosaic Canyon and Mesquite Dunes both crazily making you feel very small and insignificant. With huge salt flats in the distance it is proof this land has seen through many thousands of years before us as barren as it can seem now. With temperatures higher than zero we were much more comfortable here. From Dantes view we could see the highest and lowest points in America and the silence was deafening. We were lucky to be greeted at the peak by a baby squirrel or what looked like one, who we spent a good 5 minutes watching him wag his tail at us! Exciting stuff !!!!