On the road in California

Aoife and I had an itinerary. We had places to go, busses to catch and timelines to follow. Of course, nothing went according to plan.

Our time in San Francisco was brief.We enjoyed the colour of Castro, we did the touristy things such as visiting The Golden Gate Bridge and renting bicycles. But we also revelled in getting lost and exploring the city, of wandering through the street at night, going from one dead-end to another. We took a million photographs.

We wandered from train to bus with our backpacks. Eventually we found our self in a small town called Merced. We were apparently stranded there after the tourist office informed us a fire had broke out on route 140 and there was no public transport running to our anticipated destination – Yosemite National Park. Consoling ourselves with subway sandwiches we concluded that this hot and barren town was not going to keep us hostage. After some interesting encounters with drug addicts and just released prisoners (still dressed in orange) we caught a bus as close as we could to Yosemite; to a small town called Mariposa.

Now, stuck in Mariposa, we consoled ourselves with beer and mashed potatoes (like true Irish). Desperate to make it Yosemite (we were already a day behind) we approached the first people we spotted to ask for a ride (not the most sensible option but we were desperate). Lucky for us, the first people we spotted, were two charmingly polite and generous young British men who kindly offered us two seats in their Ford Mustang (yes) to Yosemite the next morning. Perfect.

We made it to Yosemite the next morning after a very enjoyable journey of breathtaking scenery and the wind in our face. We joined a line at the famous Campsite 4, hoping to acquire a spot. The sign read FULL but we decided to stick it out and see what happened. A large family in front of us decided to cancel their reservation and suddenly seven spaces were free, two for us and five for the five people left in the line. Fate.

Excited, we quickly headed off on a hike to Yosemite Falls. After less than half a mile of upward struggle, the sun was destroying me. I had drank too much of my small water supply already and the dirt trail and rocks were so hot they were burning me. Only through the encouragement of Aoife and other hikers was I able to struggle halfway up. At this landmark, we were renewed by a heavenly stream of water and refilled our bottles and carried on. It took forever. Uphill zig zag switchbacks over and over again. Aoife flew ahead and I struggled for an hour or more fighting with the climb. Eventually, about 3.5 miles and almost 3000 feet later, I’m at the top. Well, I thought I was at the top. Just one more part… scaling a sheer granite rock (with a terrifying and fatal drop to the bottom of the mountain) before reaching th cool pool waters of the upper falls. We made it.

Crossing that sheer rock again was scarier going back, trembled and terrified to possible death, I couldn’t belive I made it, especially in a pair of old Vans. Going down was tough with twilight setting and my apparent exhaustion generating paranoid delusions of bears and mountain lions. However, all being said, it was an experience and hike of a lifetime and although torture at points, the view was breathtaking and feeling of accomplishment and pride is difficult to articulate.

The following day was casually spent cycling and doing the smaller hikes such as Nevada Falls, Mirror Lake and Lower Yosemite Falls. The next day we were back in San Francisco to commence the next leg of our trip. Of course all along the way….lots of photographs.

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One Response to “On the road in California”

  1. […] Continued from my post On the road in California…. […]

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