Yosemite

I’d never travelled on my own before my trip to Northern California.

I figured if I wanted to go it alone, America would be the easiest way to do it, since it’s an English speaking country, and I was fairly familiar with the way it worked since I’d been several times before. I’m glad I was right. Right through from hiring a car at the San Francisco airport, to road tripping it around the state, checking into hotels, and filling up with petrol (gas, for my fellow Americans) nothing could have been easier. My absolute favourite thing to do is road trip around America. The roads are a pleasure to drive on, fellow road drivers stick to the speed limits and are courteous (the states I’ve been to anyway), and it’s very rare to drive along a road that doesn’t offer some sort of scenic beauty. Nothing I like better than putting on a little country music (think Brantley Gilbert) and get my road trip on! It makes it fairly easy too when you have views like this:

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Yosemite National Park was by far my most favourite part of my Northern California journey. San Francisco and Napa Valley were incredible, but Yosemite exceeded my expectations. Unfortunately it was during a drought period that I visited so there was no waterfall (sad face) but this didn’t detract from the incredible beauty I found myself surrounded by from all angles. It takes about three hours to drive into the actual park (it’s a national park so speed limits need to be adhered to, plus it takes some time to drive down to the start of all the hiking trails) but it’s so spectacularly breathtaking that three hours (2-2.5 if it’s out of season) becomes a pleasure more than a hindrance. I mean, you guys. LOOK at this scenery:

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Heading towards Yosemite Falls

yosemite2El Capitan. Up front and centre!

yosemite4I’m surrounded by beauty. Literally.

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I’m surrounded by beauty. Literally.

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Into the unknown.

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Abandoned building in Yosemite.

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So OK, I have to admit it. Getting to take this photo is probably one of the main reasons I wanted to visit Yosemite. I came across this picture a couple of years ago and vowed that I would one day snap the very same pic. And whaddaya know? Yosemite Chapel also happens to be Yosemite’s oldest building. Pretty cool huh?

I found this link particularly helpful when it came to seeking out the best hiking options. My personal favourite hike was hiking it up to Glacier Point.
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It’s a 2.5 hour trek up to Glacier Point. That’s Half Dome right there in the below picture. It’s a 10 hour+ hike to half Dome, with a permit required, so I’m pretty chuffed that 2.5 hours is all it took (or 5 minutes if you were one of the million who decided to bus it up the mountain ;)).
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I stayed in Mammoth Lakes (a skiing town that comes alive in winter), about a 20 minute drive from the gates to Yosemite National Park. The accommodation options closer to Yosemite seemed quite limited to me, with backpacker, camping, or hostel-style accommodation being the only options available. Staying a few miles out meant I had more choice when it came to accommodation, which suited me just fine. I stayed at The Westin Monache Resort in Mammoth Lakes, which I would recommend to everyone. It felt like my second home, and I felt very comfortable there. Plus, it’s super pretty:
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Visiting Yosemite rates easily as one of the best experiences of my life. Hikes for days, gorgeous greenery all around me, and the most incredible views – those that know me, know that this is my idea of heaven. Travelling alone took me out of my comfort zone somewhat, but conversely, it added to the pleasure of the trip. I’d love to go back to visit during rainy season – it’s hard to imagine being any more blown away than I already was, but I have a feeling I just might be.

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