Day 18 – Mammoth Lakes to Oakhurst vía Yosemite
Left our Motel in Mammoth Lakes on a cold but lovely morning. Mammoth Lakes is a really nice small tourist town with wooden lodges creating the mountain county atmosphere.
This area is in the Sierra Nevada, the other one from the one we know well in a Spain.
After filling up with gas (note getting into the local lingo now) we made our way to visit another local lake – June Lake had to be visited, in honour of Chris’ Mum as we know she will enjoy seeing the photos on this blog and when we get home!!
June Lake is like so many of these beautiful lakes. Crystal clear water, little ‘beach’ areas and tall fir trees edging the water.
We left June behind and made our way onto the Tioga Pass. This road will be closed soon for the winter.
We entered the Yosemite National Park at 9,400 ft where they publish warnings about altitude sickness. The idea is to get gradually acclimatised to the height. I guess coming straight from Death Valley yesterday, at one point at 300 ft below sea level is not ideal preparation!
The giant fir trees in Yosemite just seem to come out of the rock and stretch for miles only to be broken up by a beautiful lake here and there! Another different vista on our day’s driving from anything else we had seen before.
We made our way along the Tioga pass and followed the river. It was so pretty with numerous scattered rocks providing some great opportunities for stepping stones over the water.
We stopped for lunch by Sentinel beach, another lovely spot, and virtually had the place to ourselves. The park is geared up for picnics with loads of tables and benches at most view points.
After lunch we headed towards Yosemite valley and for the first time saw more cars and motor homes. There were several campsites and lodges.
We made our way for a gentle stroll at Brideveil falls – a 642ft waterfall. Given that it is Fall (Autumn) the waterfalls are at their quietest. The best time to see the waterfalls in the park is in the Spring after the winter’s snow has melted. But it was still an impressive sight and I was glad to say that I didn’t get wet, something that is common in the Spring!
As we had only a day in Yosemite, we decided to head off to Wawona and Mariposa Grove to see the giant Sequoia trees. Here are over 500 trees, some believed to be over 3,000 years old. This was one of my anticipated highlights of Yosemite as I have never seen trees like them before. I wasn’t disappointed. These trees can be over 300’ tall. They are believed to be perhaps the largest living mass on earth being around 20ft in diameter. The only taller specimen of tree in the world is the Coast Redwood, but is not so large overall.
The “Giant Grizzly” tree is believed to be between 1800 and 2,800 years old. Not sure why it was such a variable timeframe. The tree reminded me of something from a Disney cartoon character, it was such a perfect shape and you could imagine it being ‘alive’! What stages of history these ancient trees must have experienced?
In summary, like so many of the National Parks we have visited Yosemite was beautiful. We had lovely weather, blue skies and 66F but it felt a lot warmer in the sun. I could imagine spending hours walking and relaxing by the rivers and lakes, and enjoying the open countryside especially camping (or maybe glamping (posh camping) nowadays) at night, but then we could have done that at many of the places we have visited. I do not regret spending only a short time in this park or any of the parks. We wanted to see Yosemite and experience its beauty – we certainly did that. I was grateful we did it without the crowds that this park gets in the summer.
Mountain Trail Lodge
So after 18 days this is our last National Park. We head off tonight for a night in a Mountain trail lodge in Oakhurst before heading to San Francisco tomorrow.
I had better be sure to get some flowers in our hair before we get there! Although not sure where Chris will put a flower, being more reflective of Bald Mountain!
Goodbye US National Parks – you have been amazing, well run, clean and so natural, it has been a real pleasure to experience so many.
So long . . .