When your alarm goes off at 2am to wake you for your 5+ hours road trip any sane person would ask themselves "is it really worth it?". Well for once in my life it really was.
I've been in America for two months now and said yes to every opportunity to visit landmarks and cities. Often not having any idea of what the place is going to be like, for example all I knew about Yosemite is that Yogi Bear was set there. That's it. So imagine my surprise when I layed my eyes on some of these views.
We set off so early because we had been warned that queues to enter the park could stretch for hours, luckily this wasn't the case and we got there just in time for the sun rising behind us giving us an amazing view of Olmsted Point, with Half Dome in the distance.
Once we arrived in the Yosemite Village we stopped for "food" in the form of a greasy breakfast burrito, which in hindsight was a terrible idea because of what we would spend the rest of the day doing.
Our first landmark was Yosemite falls, which sadly being the middle of summer had dried up. Awkward...
Next up we decided to walk across the valley to the beginning of a randomly selected trail. The views just from the valley meadows looking up were spectacular.
On the other side of the valley we reached the start of "4 Mile Trail" in the shadow of one of the peaks.
"4 Miles? That's not very far, let's do it"
What the name doesn't explain is that those 4 miles include 3,200ft of elevation. We were woefully unprepared. I was wearing DC shoes, and we all had far too much dead weight in our bags. For example I was carrying swimming gear "just in case".
We also failed to notice the contents of this sign. Whoops.
After about 50 minutes of climbing (and wondering what the hell we had got ourselves in for) we started to be greeted by views such as:
Which only encouraged us to keep going and not think about the return journey. Every time the trail snaked back on itself we found a view even better than the last.
Yep, we started at the very bottom of that valley.
Once we reached the top we were rewarded with a view of Half Dome. Aaaand a car park and gift shop. Turns out instead of a 3.5 hour hike we could have just driven to the top. Ouch.
We felt slightly ripped off at that point. We could have spent that hiking time visiting somewhere unaccessible by car, but that's what you get when you don't research where you're going!
We were also suddenly distracted by the most tame squirrel I've ever seen.
I've been accused of photoshopping that squirrel by several people now and to be honest I don't blame them.
It was an unexpected and much needed morale boost for the next step. Remember that sign at the start of the trail? Yep. We had to walk back down.
Afterwards we (literally) limped back to the car and headed to our accommodation for the night. Our early alarms to catch a sunrise the next day were switched off in favour for getting rest to recover from our unexpected 30,000 steps.
To be continued in day 2