Day 9 – 7th October


This morning we had a very early wake up. We were out of the hotel at 5.40 to make our way to Yosemite National Park. Luckily the coach was picking us up from the hotel opposite so thankfully we didn’t have to travel far. Our driver and tour guide Constantine told us about all the sights on the way, with a 4 hour drive there there was lots to see, and an opportunity to catch a bit of shut eye after the early start. (Im not really a morning person!)

Our first stop was at Tuolumne Grove Trailhead. We took a short hike to see the red Sequoia trees. These were huge, I have never seen trees like it! The hike wasn’t too intense but still hard to walk back up to the top, the saving grace was that it was a much cooler climate here, compared to that of Bryce Canyon. It took about an hour and 15 minutes and it was good to stretch our legs after a long drive. I was glad we had this stop as we were able to see some Sequoia trees after not being able to see them in Muir Woods.

Giant Sequoias are considered one of the oldest, largest, and fastest growing trees in the world. Armed with a remarkable resistance to disease, sequoias can live for over 3,000 years, grow to 300 feet tall and over measure 30 feet around.

Eventually, these noble giants fall over from their own massive weight. Fire scars burned into old trees are testament to their fire resistance and longevity. To get a sense of a sequoia’s age, count the concentric rings in its stump.

Young trees up to several hundred years old, have pointed crowns. Mature trees, approaching 1,000 years old, develop rounded tops. The surviving ancient trees often have dead tops, the result of repeated lightening strikes.

Sequoia trees prefer deep, well drained soils and elevations between 4,500 and 7,000 feet where water is more available from melting snow. They can endure temperature variations from 5 – 100 degrees Fahrenheit (-15 – 38 degrees Celsius). The bark of the oldest trees can grow up to two feet thick!

“For beauty and symmetry they cannot be surpassed. They are perfect to a fault.” -J.L Cogswell May 17, 1858.

There are only 75 naturally occurring groves of giant sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum). These trees are only found on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains in central California. It is a mystery why these groves have become isolated.

We then headed to Tunnel View. Where we had stunning views of El Capitan, Horsetail Fall, Clouds Rest, Half Dome, Sentinel Rock, Cathedral Rocks and Bridalveil Fall.

In Yosemite, you may never witness the same scene twice. Whether spring or fall, morning or afternoon you get the opportunity to encounter an ever changing view. In summer, clouds glide amidst granite peaks. Fall splashes autumn hues upon maple and oak trees across the valley floor. Winter brings snow, accenting the subtle details of granite walls, while spring breathes life back into ephemeral waterfalls and renews the echo of rushing water through the valley.

‘It is by far the grandest if all the special temples of Nature I was ever permitted to enter’ – John Muir

We were so lucky, it was a beautifully bright and sunny day and the views were amazing. After we got our pictures, we headed down into the valley. We had a couple of hours here and went on a lovely walk. We walked along the river, and across two bridges, Sentinel bridge and Swinging bridge. It didn’t actually swing, but once used to. It was the perfect temperature for walking, a nice cool breeze but wonderfully sunny.

We then got back onto the coach, and stopped at a couple of viewpoints. We saw climbers making their way up El Capitan – this was mind blowing, they were tiny pin pricks, and it’s when you see them climbing that you realise how humongous these rocks are. Rather them than me!

We made our way back to the hotel, viewing the most gorgeous sunset. After a nap, and some reading we arrived back at our hotel around 10.30pm and slept extremely well after 15,000 steps. Ready for our flight to New York the following morning.

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