Weekend in Yosemite (September 28th – September 29th 2019)
It was finally Friday evening and my first weekend off since I came to California was about to happen. Few days ago I was texting to a Facebook au pair groups if there´s somebody who would like to join me on a trip to the national park Yosemite. I was hoping that I´ll find at least one girl but I got very surprised when within 24 hours about 15 girls commented on my posts and few more girls messaged me! Do you know that saying: who comes first, goes first? So this lottery won Azucena from Mexico, Rebeca from Brazil and Natalia from Poland. I have already met Azu once, I hung out with Rebeca a week before the trip and I remembered Natalia from one au pair event but I wasn´t talking to her there. Friends-nofriends, on Saturday morning before 6am all of them were already in my beautiful, at-that-time still clean Mazda and we were on our way to a weekend adventure. When suddenly…
I told girls that I think somebody was following us. And I was right! I was trying to get out of San Mateo´s streets which I don´t know at all and I got completely lost. I was crossing lines on the main road from right to the left as I was trying to follow girls´ instructions how to get to the gas station. We were pretty close to one when I ended up in a narrow street where I had to pull over because there were two police cars waiting. And the car who was following me was a third one! I don´t know how that happened but my confidence didn´t disappear and as I pulled down my window I was smiling at the police officer asking him how can I help him. Turned out that obviously I was driving like an idiot and he had to check if I wasn´t under an influence. I gave him a surprised look and explained that we´re just an au pairs and we´re not local and we´re on our way for a weekend trip in Yosemite and we got lost as we were looking for a gas station. Mr. officer took my driving license, in a minute came back, returned it to me and wished us a nice and safe trip.
Pulled over by a police officer? – checked.
We left at 6am to a 4 hours long drive, at 7am we enjoyed a beautiful sunrise and at 10am we arrived to Yosemite. During this year the park is opened for free only for five times. And guess what. Today was one of those days – National Public Lands Day! On the other side, we had to pay for the entrance on Sunday and the ticked is valid until October 5th so we didn´t save up anything, but I´m not going to ruin the mood yet… I took out a list of must-see places, gave it to the main coordinator Azu and she was looking up those places on a map we got. So, if you ever decide to go to Yosemite, stop by here:
Tunnel view – on Saturday we went through three tunnels and there is a nice view at each of them. I was promising girls that I will pull over so we can make some pictures but I didn´t succeed until Sunday morning…
Glacier point – was unfortunately closed. I was looking forward to go here especially because my friend told me that you can drive to the top. This way was closed until Monday and we could have only hike up there but only until 4pm when all of the roads to the top were closed for good…
Yosemite Falls (Upper and Lower)
We decided to hike on the Yosemite Upper Falls. Interesting thing about falls in Yosemite is that after summer they dry out. So if you come here at the end of September what can happen is that you won´t see any water, only the rocks and maybe a small steam of the fall. We were so excited when we started our hike and actually we made it up to the top of this never ending hike (5,5km!!). The way up took us 3 hours and the way down only 1. And it was very educational hike. For example Rebeca found out that linen shoes are not good for hiking. We also found out that if the information board says that you´ll need at least 3l of water, it might have a reason. Each of us had one water bottle and I took with me for a better hydration a coffee. And Natalia had a Redbull. Let´s just say we were ready for everything. One thing I wasn´t ready for was a lunch. I was glad that I had a mobile charger with me (if there was a plug in one of the rocks) and I was optimistically hoping that there will be a restaurant on the top. Well, there wasn´t any restaurant or bathrooms or plug. What a surprise for a girl from the city! But we successfully made it, I climbed on a wooden bridge and with hand covered by splinters we went back to Yosemite Village. After a warm fast food dinner, completely exhausted we left to find our cabin where we spent a night. Just for the record, shoes I had during the whole day were too tie and my feet changed into an area covered by blisters. I had to drive bare feet with bloody feet and my calves became so sore that I was feeling getting cramps into my right leg so I had to drive with my left leg. That was very interesting experience and I was so grateful that my car wasn´t manual…
About an hour and a half from Yosemite, in a city of Coulterville was our small cabin where we had one double bed, one bunk bed, the A/C turned on, the heater turned off, coffee machine, toaster and a fridge inside which was a cabin key. Did I already mention that meanwhile it became very cold outside and it actually started freezing? Bathrooms and showers were shared with others people staying here but surprisingly they were nice and clean. The only thing you wouldn´t find here was a warm water… By the morning it was freezing even more and when we checked the weather forecast we felt even colder. It was supposed to be such weather during the whole day! So we put all the clothes we had on, packed our stuff, put some make up on and at 8:30 we were already on our way back to Yosemite Village.
We made a smart decision today that we won´t make any hike. Only a light walking around. We also got surprised when it wasn´t freezing out there, it was only cold. I successfully pulled over on a Tunnel view (since on Saturday I ignored all of the parking places with the panoramic view) and at 11am we were leaving the Visitor center with our souvenirs. And now let´s be serious: if you want some souvenirs go there in the morning when it´s not that much crowded. Afternoon and in the evening there come so many people and you´ll spend so much time by waiting in a line…
Talking about Yosemite, you can move around here by four different ways: you can walk, drive a car, take a bus or rent a bike. Let´s cut off first two options because the park is huge for walking around and driving is convenient but unpractical because probability that you´ll find a parking space at the place you´re going to is very low. There are classical parking lots in the park and “alternative ones” at the road but those are usually occupied… Talking about buses, there are several eco buses driving around the park every few minutes that make stops at about 20 places. The driver also tells you the name of the stop and what you can see there or where can you go from that place and it´s for free. Bikes are I think the most practical because you are not squeezed in a full bus with other people but you have to pay for the rent… So what did we see today?
We started at the Mirror Lake. Unfortunately we didn´t find almost no lake (yes, they dry out too) but we enjoyed our lunch with a view on a Half Dome and a deer. From there we walked to the half of Vernal Fall and we ended our day at Swinging Bridge which wasn´t either hanging or swinging. But the road there was through a nice meadows and the view worth it. Talking about Vernal Fall it wasn´t completely dried out and the view was amazing as well. I wanted to take a squirrel home form there but I don´t know why none of them wanted to join me… At the end of the day I bought coffee and Redbull and we left for a never ending journey back home. Six hours later all of us were already home trying to get ready for another au pair week. But before the week started I had to type down one small life event – drive 867km during two days? – checked.
And let me give you a small advice: use Google before you go somewhere. For example look what I just found out: difficulty of Yosemite Upper Falls – high. It’s a long, steep climb from the valley floor to the valley rim, and easily rates an 8 out of 10. Consider this question: would you climb the stairs all the way to the top of the Empire State Building? Well, in the course of your hike to Upper Yosemite Falls, you’ll climb the equivalent of just over two Empire State Buildings. This hike is a challenging workout. You won’t make it unless you’re in decent shape and you’ve brought enough food and liquid to carry you through a long, hard climb. But we made it!!
At the end a little bit of calculations (per person) if it´s four of you coming here:
Gas 27 EUR
Accommodation 37 EUR
Food 58 EUR
Entrance fee 8 EUR (we paid 32 EUR for the car)
Souvenirs 7 EUR
ALL TOGETHER: 137 EUR