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Daniel Tours America
Sequoia NP, CA
30th May 2008
Yosemite National Park

At dawn I enjoyed my first hot sustenance in a few days by way of "Coffee with a Ranger", which was just a very informal Q&A session during which I regained the feeling in my fingers thanks to the hot drink.  Rangers are certainly among the coolest people in America, with the coolest jobs too. My campsite-mate, a State Park ranger, explained to me that NPS rangers are like bees in a hive, each with a specific role or caste, whereas State rangers tend to do a little of everything.  In NC the rangers even carry guns.

Yosemite is a stunning valley flanked by huge granite monoliths that make it look like a hall of petrified kings sitting around a table.  The structures look far too big for the valley and this contrast in size adds to their majesty.  Dotted between each are an uncanny number of waterfalls; I have no idea where so much water comes from.  I stopped at a few, such as the tall thin Bridal Veil falls, before opting to do another killer hike.  Today's was from the valley floor up to the top of Yosemite Falls and then beyond that to Yosemite Point.  In the photos you can see these two, the point is to the right of the falls.  The hike was difficult but not particularly interesting, consisting mostly of switchbacks. The top of the falls gives fantastic panoramas over the valley, to the Half Dome and the Eagle monoliths, as well as allowing one to look from behind and above the top of the waterfall. Not content with not being at the top I walked "off-piste" to Yosemite Point, a hair-raising mile-plus hike over 45-degree slick granite, where a single slip would have had me fall not all the way down the 2700' (850m) drop, but just 50' to the river where I would have been swept down the waterfall.  This was quite a thrill.
The waterfall created beautiful rainbows as well a deafening roar.  The wind was so strong at the top that the water sometimes blow over me as I luncheoned, despite being several metres above the surface of the river.

After seeing the valley and the fall from such a perspective I decided I did not need to stop at every single vista around the valley ring road.  They would have paled in comparison.  I therefore headed out of the park, over two temporary bridges to detour around a huge rock-slide, to Merced, at the bottom of the central California valley. I'm in a Hosteling International hostel which is actually a private residence.  Not an old house which has been converted, but a residence.  I'm in the elderly couple's living room, surrounded by photos of their children and life.  It's quite bizarre, and a million miles from the 100-bed party hostels I've been used to.
My first touch of soap and hot water in three days was especially welcome after today's hike: I refused to pay 5 dollars for a shower in the park.

Next: Do you know the way to San Jose?
Previous: Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

Diary Photos

Sequoia NP, CA

Giant tree with normal tree, Sequoia NP, CA

General Sherman tree, Sequoia NP, CA

General Grant tree, Sequoia NP, CA

Bridalveil falls, Yosemite NP, CA

Yosemite falls and Yosemite Point, CA

Half Dome, Yosemite NP, CA

Yosemite Falls, Yosemite NP, CA

Valley floor from top of Yosemite Falls, CA

Enlightenment atop the world, Yosemite NP, CA

Yosemite Valley and Half Dome, Yosemite NP, CA

Yosemite Valley, Yosemite NP, CA

El Capitan, Yosemite NP, CA

Landslide near Merced river, CA

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