For the second day of our hiking adventure, we were far more prepared with a full packed lunch evenly spread over 3 backpacks (every one should have their own food in case one person gets lost in the wilderness), extra water in the car as well as in our bottles, hats, shorts (me) and GoPros. Not that I filmed anything because I had bought the wrong memory card for my camera… but it was still worth a shot!
We started off the day singing along to our new “favourite” songs that were at the beginning of the alphabet. Our phones were plugged into the USB cord in the car so we couldn’t shuffle and they played in alphabetical order of song title, and if you tried to select a song manually it started all over again from “A”. It was quite funny, and annoying, but in the end we listened to the same Chet Faker, Beyonce and Chainsmokers over and over again. And it was the perfect!
We drove towards Yosemite Valley and El Capitan from our cabin, we decided to pause to take some photos with the nice scenery and trees… because everything is just so overwhelmingly beautiful in Yosemite National Park! Whilst you feel so small and insignificant wandering through the forrest, you also feel so alive and grateful and a little important, and that all of the travel to get there was worth every second! The fact that I got to share it with my friends that live on a whole other continent is a bonus!
After taking photos on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, we stopped again on the side of another road, this time near Tunnel View, to take some more pictures and soak up the tunes, the sunshine and all of the pine laced fresh air. We had no schedule, no agenda and no wifi, which means we got lost a few hundred times along the way, but it was all a part of the journey.
Eventually we wound up at the Mirror Lake trail head, that promised an easy- moderate 3.2km trip to the lake and back. With an elevation of 4000ft at at the trailhead (1,220 meters) and a small elevation gain of 100 feet (30 meters). This was nothing compared to the previous day, and we had already started adjusting to the altitude.
After walking half way around the “lake” (which is actually a pool in Tenaya Creek) and wandering about the area it was about a 12km walking day! Our lunch spot was at the upper part of the lake on some stone steps. There were some creepy Blair Witch kind of rocks around the place so we decided to sit away from them and have lunch, inadvertently knocking over some of the rocks. We started to eat our lunch then we realised that there was a school group on a field trip that was using the rocks for a team building game…oops!
We were so hungry from all of the exercise and expending energy on hiking and talking at the same time that lunch was the best ham and Colby-Jack cheese we had ever tasted! We also had guacamole, corn chips and watermelon. The wasps thoroughly enjoyed our lunch too, which was annoying, so we ended up not eating half of lunch because the wasps had landed all over the sandwiches. So whilst I was trying to find something to put our discarded rolls in, a squirrel came and nabbed my leftovers! I know that you aren’t meant to feed them (and we didn’t on purpose), but there was no way I was risking catching the plague trying to take my ham and cheese sandwich from the squirrel so that they don’t become dependant on human food! All of the rodents in the park have the plague, and touching them or their saliva or feeding them, is a surefire way to become infected. This didn’t stop the hundreds of other tourists from feeding them, but that’s none of my business!
So after our shared alfresco dining experience we continued around the lake and found the perfect place to take in the view. We met a lovely American couple Kathy and “Bill”*, who were lovely and enriched our visit to Mirror Lake by sharing some facts about the surrounding peaks, canyons and meadows. Kathy has been to Mirror Lake quote “87 million times” and says it is a lovely place to come all year round. At first it was disappointing to see the lake so low in water and quite murky, but as the sun continued to shine, we saw that you can in fact see the peak of Half Dome reflected in the water, which is breathtaking. Seeing Half Dome peak (one of the most iconic in the park and the most challenging hike) from the base gives a different perspective, and Mount Watkins, the Washington Column and Tenaya Canyon can been seen too. Within the park, in every direction, there was something new and awe inspiring to see!
The evening was spent at Glacier Point watching the sunset create magnificent colours on Half Dome (again- it’s one of the must see points of the park and can be seen from all over!). We were also caught in traffic as cars piled up to allow a passing COYOTE to cross the road! It was crazy because everyone thought it was a wolf (it was not- there are no wolves in Yosemite, just like there are no Grizzly Bears, just brown coloured black bears!) and there were lots of photos being taken and not one person beeped a horn, yelled profanities or was rude. It was very humbling and nice to see that humans can operate at a civil level, unlike in the city during peak hour. Even though I am slightly guilty of road rage sometimes..
I couldn’t help but laugh when we got to the end of the short trail as dusk was falling. Everyone was quiet, cameras at the ready, Go Pros poised to time lapse the miracles of nature….and it dawned on me that the sun actually set in the opposite direction. Behind the huge mass of rock/mountain/land that we wouldn’t actually see it setting at all!
Nonetheless, the colours on the peak as the sun shone through the mountains were reminiscent of the wallpapers that are heavily edited and come with your Mac. Except they weren’t edited (very much) by me and it literally looks like I have photoshopped my head into all of them! Another plus of Glacier Point is that there was reception and I was able to hurriedly call James to tell him that I hadn’t fallen off a mountain yet or been attacked by a bear. He was understandably thrilled 🙂
The day ended with another yummy dinner, more wine, more FRIENDS dvds and falling asleep on the couch in our cute cabin in the forest!
* Unsure of his actual name, we decided that he looked like a Bill on account of his shorts, high socks, sneakers and blue and white cap that read “ Make America Great Again”. Given the recent news, maybe it should’ve been Don instead?