Field Trip Stories: Yosemite National Park July 01 2014

Yesterday marked the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Grant Act, signed by Abraham Lincoln on 30th June 1864. It was the first of its kind, a land grant to protect the wild lands of Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove for the enjoyment of all. In addition, this grant marked the first California State Park.

Visionaries like Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, and Galen Clark understood that the wonders of the American wilderness are not only our inheritance, but also our responsibility. Now, 150 years later, the promise of the Yosemite grant endures as this beloved national park opens its arms to over 4 million people annually who marvel at the awe-inspiring beauty and gain a new understanding of the importance of preserving our wild lands.

Yosemite National Park covers nearly 1,200 square miles of mountainous terrain in the Sierra Nevada of California and is best known for its towering granite monoliths, thundering waterfalls, deep valleys, grand meadows, and giant sequoias. We visited Yosemite in April last year and it holds a special place in our hearts for many reasons, but mostly for the special feeling it gave us whilst we were there.

Upon entering the park you drive through a long dark mountain tunnel and once out at the other end you are greeted with a heart stopping view of Yosemite Valley far in the distance, grand granite mountain cliffs, thousands and thousands of trees and the beauty of Bridal Veil Falls. It really does have the ability to knock the wind out of you.

Accommodation in Yosemite Valley ranges from camping and motorhome (RV) parking to deluxe rooms at Ahwahnee, a luxury hotel built in the 1920s. An overnight stay at the Ahwahnee is probably above most peoples budget, but we certainly recommend an evening visit just to take in the grand interiors - and the bar serves up some seriously good grub at very affordable prices. We chose to stay in a traditional white canvas cabin at Curry Village, otherwise known as Camp Curry, situated right in the shadow of spectacular Glacier Point and Half Dome.

Curry Village was founded by David and Jennie Curry back in 1889, with the idea of offering affordable lodging for Yosemite visitors, which stays true to this day. It was a very unique experience, especially walking back to our tent that first evening. The temperature had dropped to below zero Celsius, the sky was so bright and full of stars we had to stop and marvel, we could see Half Dome from the light of the moon and it was so quiet that we could hear the roaring of Yosemite Falls from the distance. That is one moment we will never forget.

Hiking and rock climbing are two of the most popular activities to do at Yosemite. We spent a day hiking along the Mist Trail, an 11km round trip hike that starts near Happy Isles in Eastern Yosemite Valley and forms part of the Half Dome Trail. It takes you past not one, but two gorgeous waterfalls; Vernal and Nevada Falls. The trail is, as the name suggests, very misty due to the passing of Vernal Falls, especially in springtime. So a good waterproof jacket and waterproof sturdy boots are essential. It’s by no means an easy hike with the climbing of steep granite steps, uneven ground and rocky switchbacks, but the view from the top of Nevada Falls makes it well worth your while.

The guide books say the hike takes about 5 hours, we would say start early and take your time, time for photos, time for fika breaks and more importantly time to just soak up the atmosphere and admire the kingdom of Yosemite that lies ahead of you, so make a day of it.

Yosemite National Park is a very special place, one that has inspires us and so many other people, and one that you should definitely add to your bucket list to visit, and not just once but several times, because we’re certainly intending to go back sometime in the near future.

For more information about Yosemite National Park visit: www.nps.gov/yose/index.htm