yosemite at last
After all the wandering around I did in California it took me to move out to return to visit Yosemite. Go figure...and glad as heck I finally did. With all the exposure of travel these days I find myself, and I think I'm not alone, questioning a visit to one of the classics. As opposed to finding something new. And the point is if you haven't been it is new. It was the end of Sep/Oct, great conditions so I got going.
First choice to make is LA or San Fran to start. I myself find getting out of LA more enjoyable and I wanted to grab dinner at a newer Santa Monica spot at the time. After I grabbed my rental just a short drive to my hotel in Santa Monica. I stayed off the beach a ways at the no frills Days Inn. One because of its walking proximity to dinner and two a had to grab a photo of the place. I had some time so I took a walk to the pier before dinner. If you've never been it's definitely worth the extra coin to spend a night around the pier area. And you have easy access to Venice and the line-up of great restaurant picks on Abbott Kenny. I on the other hand would be taking my leather slip ons for a spin to my first dinner at Fia Restaurant. And glad I did. Fantastic food, service and a really great outdoor patio ambiance in the back. Early start for my drive in the morning.
Up and at it. For someone stopping in for the first time definitely take more advantage of the LA area before moving on. Other than my dinner this trip was about Yosemite so I was headed straight through. A rather baron landscape of a drive to Bakersfield and on through to Three Rivers Sequoia entrance. Regardless the open road and tunes is one of life's true pleasures. From the entrance the viewing immediately changes and you know you're in for a dandy. Just an amazing drive up into the forest as the beautiful Moro Rock face stares at your every turn. After several look outs, including the short Moro Rock hike, you make your way into the Giant Forest. What an entrance. After some stops through here, including the General Sherman Tree, it was on to Kings Canyon.
After a calming drive through the forest I made it to the right turn into Kings Canyon. Passing by where I'd be returning for the night at the John Muir Cabins. From what I understand this stretch into Kings Canyon is often over looked. And I highly, highly suggest not missing it. The drive into the canyon rivals some of the immensity felt later on when driving into Yosemite. And then you end in a calm valley with the river aside for your refreshing pleasure. A beautiful area to stay and stage hikes from. Unfortunately...it was all booked and I didn't have camping gear. So I was headed back to my friendly little cabin waiting for me nestled in the woods. Its like a glamping option and its really an enjoyed stay. I made a fire on my deck and savored an assortment of snacks and wine gathered from the country store. Not long after it was bedtime. A long and very enjoyed drive-of-a-day.
I woke early to grab some coffee and a chewy bar to enjoy an early misty morning on Lake Hume. Early mornings around these parts are something special and fresh. After that I got a hike in at the top of the John Muir Cabin road and over to the lookout tower. Great little hike to start the day. After I was ready to get driving north to position myself for quick access to Yosemite in the morning. Heading out of the forest the drive is again a dry landscape out to Fresno and north to Mariposa. I chose this route to stay outside the park in Mariposa for its comfortable access to Yosemite. Not to mention its a great little town to enjoy an evening walk and dinner before your big day in the park.
I hit the road early coffee stalked and still dark. It felt a lot like a blue bird morning arriving early to get first runs in the snow. And as you approach into the main valley you immediately understand what the hurrah's all about. Its amazingly beautiful. I've honestly never felt that type of enormity entering into the park. I was early so parking near my hike was no problemo. Be early and on time. And just got at it. I went with the John Muir Trail on to Half Dome. Unfortunately this was a last minute trip so no pass to summit the Dome. It can be challenging to arrange with your travel schedule but don't let it stop you. The trip is so by far worth it either way. I returned on the Mist Trail and was back at my car. Just under 16miles of hiking in Yosemite. A long time dream accomplished.
I headed out of the park and on to Wawona to the 41 back to Fresno where I'd be flying out. After all the driving I highly suggest. The great part of doing the route this way is you get to stop and look back at the Yosemite Tunnel view stop. As apposed to entering this way. Its a great view to end the story. And from there its just a couple hours of twisting and turning through the mountains and on to the dry freeway to Fresno. I grabbed a room right near the airport, took a long shower and called it good. The American classic checked on the list.
Pro Tip: I'll again suggest taking the longer route to Mariposa on the way to the park. The accommodations are fantastic and the rates are great being just out of the park. And it really is a great personality of a town to enjoy into the story of the trip. And really do plan a stay, or even better camp, at the end of Kings Canyon.
Please let us know your thoughts below.