The echo of the valley

During the planning stage of my trip to the US,  a friend of mine insisted I visit Yosemite if I got the chance. Even though my schedule was jam-packed, I luckily got a day to squeeze Yosemite into my itinerary.

Yosemite is around four hours drive from San Francisco. Since it was a weekday, none of my friends were available to drive me nor was I interested in driving alone, hence I booked a tour deal through Viator, a convenient app through which you can book tours all around the world.

The pickup time was 6.15 am from a centrally located hotel in San Francisco. At sharp 6.15 am, our tour guide located us and the 30 of us were soon on our way to Yosemite. We stopped for a quick breakfast at Oakdale.

The drive to Yosemite is very scenic and winding. Our tour guide was very informative and friendly. As we ascended to a height of more than 6000 feet, aided by our tour guide’s description, we were all brimming with anticipation to catch our first glimpse of the valley. It definitely did not disappoint. That first glimpse is still ingrained in my mind. It was a picture perfect moment that cannot be described in words.

Soon we were on our way to the Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias. The more famous Mariposa Grove is closed till 2017. These groves can be visited only between May and October since it can be too slippery during the rest of the year. We were given an hour’s time to explore the Giant Sequoias.

It is around a 15- minute downhill trek while the uphill takes around 40 minutes (1.5 miles each way).  As you make your way down the path, you have no idea what to expect. I had seen pictures of them but the real trees are mesmerising and giant. You feel so miniscule standing next to them. The hollow trunk of the tree can fit in so many people. Going uphill was a task though (with my sinusitis problem), but it was not impossible. You are just a little out of breath but you are happy since it is all worth it.

The next stop on the tour was the lookout point from where you can see the entire valley and take pictures. Ah! the beauty of nature cannot be described in few words. We were then dropped off at the Yosemite visitor centre and given time to do whatever we wanted to for the next two hours.

Some of us walked to the Yosemite Falls (around five to 10 minutes) and got a chance to dip ourselves in the refreshing cold water. After that we walked around for a bit, had a delicious icecream to beat the scorching heat and did some souvenir shopping. Time flew really fast and soon we had to leave.

On the way back, we stopped at a picture-perfect meadow which gave us more opportunities to click pictures. At another vantage point, we even saw climbers through binoculars, rock climbing the mighty El Capitan, a vertical granite monolith.

Soon, we were enroute to San Francisco. Our guide made one last stop at Treasure Island from where you can see a wonderful view of the Bay Bridge and San Francisco city.

By the time we got back to the city, all of us were tired but content with the day’s events which had given us memories to last a lifetime.

For people who love hiking and camping, a day in the valley is not enough. Hiking the Half Dome cable route has become popular over the past few years despite being an arduous one.

(The author can be reached at soumya_nambiar@infosys.com)

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