And onwards we went, next stop Yosemite National Park.. Leaving Vegas Mid-day we drove up through Nevada, touching on death valley and some serious heat, we rounded back west into California as it got mountainous and as the dusk settled in we started to spot signs for Yosemite so we knew we were on the right track! As what soon became a bit of a trend I was handed driving duties while everyone else went for a nap and I was forced to navigate through a heavily wooded mountain driving up hill by myself (thats a lie, blake stayed up to help but yeah...my blog)
After plowing through a couple of small little mountain villages that looked very abandoned and very similar to something resembling a horror movie we eventually started to see some campsites and warning signs for bears! So we tried to find somewhere to set up shop and park our asses for the night. (This is the part where I will advise everybody that is ever going to go camping in the future that you should really buy a bright tent) We turned into a campsite and drove around looking for a free spot to park the van. We saw a nice free spot lucky to still be available at 2 in the morning. Threw the van into reverse and landed it halfway over somebodys tent! Nobody heard anything bad and we didn't seem to roll over anything resembling a human being so suffice to say we made haste in getting out of there after that. However if your reading this and I have been misinformed I'm very sorry for killing your friend/family member.
So after that little mishap we found a patch on the side of the road where we rested up for the night! Myself and two others chose to sleep in the van while the rest of the lads chose to sleep under a massive blanket on the ground.. not the greatest idea with all the bear warning signs but hey, no one was harmed. Very early the next morning I was awoken by a sharp knock on the drivers window to the sight of two not so happy looking bears..
..only messing, they were forest rangers. (I know what you were thinking, bears cant knock, they dont have fists)Anyway, two lads that looked like poorly constructed villains out of a rambo movie stood facing me! This was the first time we would be woken up by some form of authority on our trip! And definitely not the last! After a bit of a scolding they turned out to be fairly sound and told us what we needed to do to get set up and where certain campsites were. We thanked them, jumped into the van and made our way ever more uphill! And our first site of what was in store came to meet us as we saw a break in the trees.
Truly amazing. A bit of a shame that we missed all of it on the way in due to night time driving but it was definitely present now.. NATURE! We were ready for some proper bear grylls shit..
The complete vastness and differing landscapes of granite rock meeting forests of green trees meeting waterfalls and rivers really caught me by surprise. Never being somebody to truly appreciate views and nature and all that craic I was honestly overwhelmed at the sight of this beautiful place. A bit more driving around and we saw some more unbelievable views and sights..
We drove around for a bit more taking in the scenery, getting supplies in the only shop for miles and setting up camp! After we set up our tent and had a good laugh at the bear box (a sizeable enough box designed for storing your food as it was bearproof and the bears know not to go near it).. seriously though, a bear box.
We met a group of girls who were packing up to leave and it turned out that they were j1ers as well doing a pretty similar road trip to us just in the opposite direction! So we exchanged tips on previous destinations and cursed as they drove away. Its cold up in the mountains, always nice for a bit of extra warmth. We decided to go explore a bit more so we said we would jump in the van and find some place to have a bbq!
We drove down the mountain a bit and turned in off the road not knowing exactly what we were going to find. Turns out, like everything else in Yosemite, it was just another unbelievable set of scenery. We found a bbq pit next to a beautiful lake shadowed by a 100 foot tall granite cliff face, completely vertical in its ascension. And the best part, it had a waterfall coming out of it! Yosemite truly is amazing. There is new and different sets of scenery waiting for you around every corner!
We chilled here for a bit and the hairy baby (aka Dave) used his wilderness skills to cook us an aul cheeky lunch! This was also the last known sighting of my green peace jocks (pictured above) which managed to go missing apres swim. If your reading this lads I would appreciate if you came home! You were my favourite pair of underwear even though I only had you for a month or so :(
After drying up and feeding ourselves we threw on some fresh gear, jumped in the van and followed the road as high as it would possibly take us, up to Glacier Point. We must have reached where we wanted to go because when we got there, parked up were some tour buses and lots of other cars! We parked up ourselves and walked up to where everyone was and yet again, WOW. We were at the highest peak in Yosemite where you could access easily and the view around was absolutely incredible yet again.
Scotty Mac caught us unawares with this photo but I really love it!
I was getting to like this place more and more and really starting to feel like I missed out on this nature craic! We found out some history about Yosemite from a park ranger but mostly just enjoyed the view..
After watching a pretty epic sunset from up there we headed back to the tent to chill out, have some grub and general good times. Not all of us proved to be as useful around a campfire as Dave but we gave it a bash anyway!
Fed and watered with a few arguments about hot dog distribution we built up a fire and with the help of some medicine and a few funny anecdotes from the hairy baby we decided to call it a night! Crawling into the tent we realised it was never going to work, between lack of space and Jamie's seismic snoring some of us would be resigned to the car for another night! I gladly took the opportunity and made a dash for the car. What none of us had noticed though was that the previous nights sleep had been about 2000 feet lower than where we were now and it got cold. Very, very, very cold. So cold in fact that I decided to crawl into a 3 foot bag we had gotten when we snuck into comic con! to get an idea of the bag it was basically made of plastic and would fit a small child..
Here's what it looks like!..
After an absolutely freezing night we woke up to some nettle tea made, of course, by the man of the hour Dave! I don't think we would have survived the wilderness without him! Myself and one of the lads took a drive really early in the morning to the outskirts to stock up as we were under-supplied and desperately needed some petrol! When we got back we packed up the car again and decided to go do a hike and then make tracks north to Tahoe. We chose to do a relatively difficult hike and one we thought would be nothing too strenuous. How wrong we were. 7 Irish chancers with absolutely no water, wearing vans shoes and not a piece of hiking equipment between us. Not to mention the summer of torment we had put our bodies through!
About a quarter of the way up we stopped to take this picture.. As you can see we were fairly spent!
It was about here that we lost one of the lads who claimed he couldn't go on. We won't name and shame him, just say he is affectionately known as the cat!
The hike took the best part of 3 hours and it was tough, steep and constantly up hill. Just to make things that bit more fun there was also sand for a stretch! Driving each other on we reached the top, encountering some people speaking as gáeilge on the way up which was pretty cool, if your into that sort of thing.
If you think we look tired above try this one..
However we had managed to conquer it! We decided to do a little exploring at the top as there was some pretty cool stuff around! (I'm not gonna harp on about scenery again, I think you have gathered I enjoyed Yosemite at this stage!)
As we were having a look around on top who appears but the cat! Convinced he would get too much of a slagging if he didn't do it he turned himself around and did the hike about half an hour behind us! Some going! We had a good look around the top and took a few pictures. One of the lads made a good point that it was good to see we had it in us to hike it after the summer we had put ourselves through and he had a fair point. Once we were finished here we hiked back down and debated going for a nap in the car before we struck off. We decided against it and muggins here was landed with driving duties! Yosemite was amazing and in my own opinion was the best experience of the trip as a whole. I would have loved a week here to do and see a lot more and do some real exploring however there was more to do and see! Nobody seemed too bothered about the fact that we never got to see a bear as people's eyes shut and we departed further north...