19-20 September: Breathless in Yosemite

Author: Mr A

Location: Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Wednesday: Yes, Yosemite took our breath away, both literally and figuratively. We had been recommended to drive straight up to a lookout called Glacier Point on entering the park – which we did – and both of us found it hard to comprehend the sheer majesty of this view.But that’s not the only thing that left us breathless. Plenty of “wow” noises later we took a little walk along the cliff top and immediately noticed the effect of the thinner air – we were at 7,200 feet (3,200 metres). Catherine has enough trouble at sea level with her dinky constricted airway, so at this altitude noticed the difference. My nose started bleeding, something I always seem to experience at higher altitude, and with a nose my size its quite something!

We made our way down to the valley floor, via yet another switchback road, which I am mostly enjoying driving in our little Ford Escape, although when suddenly a car coming the other direction veers into our lane (as has happened several times), it isn’t quite as much fun. I think there are quite a few visitors here who haven’t seen many bends in their driving career, based on how slow some of them are and the number of brake lights slamming on for a gentle corner.

Our hotel turned out to be a concrete monstrosity that put us in a room next to the road. A little negotiation and we ended up moving to a river view room that was magic.

Thursday: A very peaceful sleep later and we were up to meet a local resident, Kim, Catherine knows through her Facebook support group.She gave us some great tips for how to spend our day, and after a chat with her we sped off up into the high country of the Sierra Nevada. What a drive it was…again. Check out these views along the way.We managed to puff and wheeze our way on a short 7km (4.5 mile) walk. We are now at over 8,600 feet (2,620 metres) but motivated by these incredible views to keep going – I had little excuse other than my cold and lack of strenuous exercise recently.Catherine here is sampling some naturally carbonated spring water, fresh out of the mountainside – delicious too…!We could spend weeks just exploring this one area – months more likely. The walking possibilities seem endless. It’s certainly putting the US on our radar for a longer trip.

So then it was a hairy drive back down to the valley floor, I’ve got a terrible head for heights, so was driving staring fixedly ahead and refusing to look at the sheer drop, all too close to our wheels for my liking.I breathed a sigh of relief (and I’m sure Catherine did!) when we reached the valley floor without incident, and then she captured these shots as the sun was dipping.We will leave with these photos to remind us of the beauty of this place – it’s busy, yes (although Kim tells us there are 25% less visitors post the bush fires here last July) – but a short walk from our car and we were pretty much on our own – there’s a lot of space to find some solitude away from the crowds that are hugging the valley floor.

Meanwhile, in Sydney, Australia

Apparently temperatures have PLUMMETED to below 30 degrees centigrade and Princess Tassie is needing reinforced bedding…

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