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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

15 May 2016

Coyote cokey

The granite of Yosemite

The granite of Yosemite

21 April 2016

Ignore yesterday’s grumbles. Yosemite is undisputably one of the loveliest places on the entire planet. And we’ve visited a whole bunch of the planet’s most renowned treasures and wildernesses, so I’m pretty confident with my statement. If I wanted to try and tease out a reasoned explanation for why this is so, I think it’s the sheer proximity of the mountains. The huge cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome rear straight up from the valley floor, which is probably scarcely a half-mile wide in places. This makes them look taller and far more epic than they really are. For example: today we took the hike up to Vernal and Nevada Falls, and when I looked up at the Vernal Falls I was prepared to be completely knackered by the time we reached the top. But in fact I found that I’ve handled much more punishing and relentless climbs in our trips to the English Lake District. It’s just that the peaks in most mountain-scapes are set further back, which gives the illusion they are lower. Yosemite’s grandeur comes from the proximity of the peaks, and the juxtaposition of warm, bare granite with dark, deep forests and vivid, grassy meadows.

Top of the Nevada Falls

Top of the Nevada Falls

Enough analysis, it’s a stunning place. We had reason to thank our continuing jet lag (it’s so helpful for wildlife viewing, we’re not even trying to reset our clock – 5am starts every day, and in bed by 10pm-ish every night), as we were up and ready to start the Vernal/Nevada Falls trail at dawn and had it pretty much all to ourselves, apart from the squirrels in the trees. As we got back to the place where the return loop rejoins the outbound leg, at around 9:30am, we found that there was already a pretty much continuous procession of people hiking their way up. The difference was startling, and I know if we’d started our hike at 9:30am I wouldn’t have enjoyed it at all.

One more unforgettably beautiful site in Yosemite: the view from Glacier Point at sunset. Yeah, there were crowds here, but not too bad and after all it’s just a view, not a hike. Also the crowd disappeared when it got dark, and with that massive full moon there was still an eerily beautiful view out over the peaks to enjoy. In the freezing cold. Wow… T-shirts in the valley in the sun, and shivering in five (five!) layers after dark.

What we haven’t had much luck with today is wildlife watching. The darned full moon makes it hard to spot anything at night, and with Yosemite so busy the daytime would normally only be good for deer and chipmunks… except that the chipmunks are all still hibernating! No sign of the lazy little critters. All we saw at night was several more coyotes, so they get the title for today.

From Glacier Point

From Glacier Point


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