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California Part 4: Yosemite National Park

So far, in under a week our road-trip had taken us to Los Angeles, up to Alabama Hills and Mammoth Lakes, taking in the ghost-town of Bodie and the "Tufa Towers" of Mono Lake. If you haven't seen parts 1 to 3 of my California blogs, please check them out. This blog takes a look at what was probably the highlight of my 12 day tour of California: Yosemite National Park.

After getting up ridiculously early (I'm not a morning person...or even an early afternoon person!) to photograph Mono Lake at sunrise - see part 3 of my blogs - we set off for Yosemite, roof down on our car, to soak up some of the most majestic scenery I've ever experienced. The route took us along the notorious Tioga Pass with its winding roads climbing from about 6,300 feet to over 10,000 feet. We got into the park before 6 a.m. which meant that the roads were fairly empty (save for a few camper-vans). This allowed us to stop whenever there was a dramatic view to behold... which worked out as every couple of minutes! Frozen lakes with snow on, perfect mirror reflections, babbling brooks and meadows that looked like something from a film set...

(Click on image to enlarge)​​

Our first planned stop was the luscious, green basin that is Yosemite Valley. As we got nearer to our destination we were given the first few glimpses of the "National Geographic" landscape that inspired our trip. Half Dome is probably the most famous of Yosemite's peaks and its name speaks for itself (one side of the what was once a perfectly done-shaped mountain has slipped away leaving a sheer cliff face). My travel companion, Matthew, thought it would be an ideal opportunity to add to his active-wear modelling portfolio...

(click on image to enlarge)

We arrived in Yosemite valley late morning although as we'd been up since 4.15 a.m., it felt a lot later. The floor of the valley sits at about 4,000 feet and the climate was very different from what we had experienced an hour or so earlier. We ditched the micro-fleeces that had served us well when we were above the snowline before we set off on a very sweaty hike up to Yosemite falls. I've included a pic of me with Half Dome in the background, showing more clearly how it earned its name (Half Dome, not Robin Boot)...​

(click on image to enlarge)

The cool mist blowing off the falls offered some welcome relief from the steep climb in sweltering heat. Even the best photography doesn't do justice to this vista and I could have happily stayed there all day...

Yosemite's dramatic landscape was formed over millions of years... but sadly we were on a bit of tight schedule and didn't have that long. Our walk back down the narrow mountain track was much easier than the ascent and, after shaking the dust from our shoes, stocking up on ice-cream, water and more ice-cream, we hit the road to tick off a couple more "must-sees" on our Yosemite list:

"Tunnel View"...

"Glacier Point"...

...and possibly the best location to see the scale of the valley. Who needs a drone!

You've reached the end of part 4! I hope you've enjoyed looking at the photos as much as I enjoyed taking them! After one of the longest days of tourism ever, we left Yosemite and drove West, into the sunset where San Francisco would be waiting for us when we woke up... an adventure that will be covered in part 5 of my blogs.

Please check me out on Facebook and Instagram for more frequent updates.

I leave you with a thought: If you've already travelled 5500 miles, going a further 20 metres past a "Danger: Do Not Enter" sign isn't going to make much difference in the grand scheme of things...

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