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Yosemite National Park, California: Who needs a hiking partner when you have a deer?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

If I was in charge of writing the dictionary, I would define Yosemite as 'The hikers dream'. With an area spanning 3000 square metres, the park provides endless unique hikes ranging from flat and short to steep and long (see hike map here). Blame it on stress from completing my honours whilst planning my trip, but I somehow thought a day trip to Yosemite from San Francisco (which is a four hour drive each way) was going to give me enough time in the park.

To be fair, the tour was really well organised however, it really only allows enough time to have lunch and do the 'lower Yosemite falls' walk (30minutes return trip) or to forfeit lunch and do the 'lower Yosemite falls' and 'mirror lake' walk (1 hour return trip). So if you are an avid nature lover or hiking enthusiast learn from my mistake and plan a few days at the park. There are a number of neat lodges directly inside the park you can even stay at. If one or two walks sounds like enough to you or you really can only fit a day trip in, here are my recommendations for how to best spend your time.

How to get around: 
Running roughly every 20 minutes from 7am to 10pm, this shuttle service is the one and only way to get around. The bus services the whole eastern Yosemite Valley, including stops close to all accommodations, stores, and major hiking and viewing points.

 Things to do:
*~ Lower Yosemite Falls (Stop 6) ~*
With a trail only 1.6km long, this 30-minute round trip hike is the most accessible and yet still very rewarding. As you walk through a bouquet of Ponderosa Pine and Incense-Cedar trees you are greeted intermittently by views of the Upper Yosemite falls. Within 10 minutes you arrive at the site of the lower Yosemite falls where the braver among you can climb over the rocks to get up close to the cascading H20 which forms the final part of North America's tallest waterfall.

*~ Mirror Lake (Stop 17) ~*
It's hard to say what made this 1-hour hike the most enjoyable i've ever treated my legs to - perhaps it was the incredible final scene of mirror lake itself, or the subtle fear of meeting face to face with a mountain lion, or perhaps (infact quite possibly) it was the deer acting as my spirit animal stalking protecting me. Pre-hike I was informed that in meeting with a deer you should just move out of its path and let it overtake you, however the deer I encountered (let's name them Selma) refused to overtake me and stayed equidistant from me, so I decided to just keep on keeping on with my newly-acquired hiking companion.

Unlike everywhere else, I  didn't do much research into Yosemite before my tour, so I took the advice of my tour leader who advised me that if I was fit and keen enough I could the Mirror Lake walk as well as the lower Yosemite falls walk in during my 3-hours of free time. Boy did he get props for this recommendation! At just 3.2km return, the hike navigated you through a serene and unique environment where almost every rock and tree appears to be covered in moss until you reach a scene which will make you more thankful than ever of the ability of liquid water to reflect light.

*~ Tunnel View~*
Perhaps the most famous view of Yosemite Valley, can be seen from Tunnel View. An inconvenient hike, but a convenient drive, this is where my tour started. You can find directions to the site (conveniently located with a carpark) here.

*~ Just drive around and find your own little magical spot ~*
This was mine.