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Exploring Yosemite

Before visiting Yosemite I’d never really heard, or learnt much about it. I was one of those Australians that thought Yosemite was pronounced with the ‘mite’ like ‘Vegemite’. I have since learned the correct pronunciation Yoh-sem-i-tee.

Words can’t explain what I experienced on my visit to Yosemite. It’s truely like nothing else I’ve ever experienced.

When you arrive and pass through the tunnel on Wawona road, be sure to stop in at the tunnel view. There is plenty of parking, and you will get to see the most open view of the valley.

I was lucky enough to have a climber friend, who convinced me to visit, so I was able to see Yosemite (almost) from a climbers point of view. He knew where the approach, and retreat routes were for some awesome climbs. This made it an experience I’ll never forget.

How to get there

The best way to experience Yosemite is to hire a car. It’s about 5 hours from LA, and about 3 hours from San Fransisco, and this way you can spend as much time as you like with as much freedom as possible.

Alternatively, you can also book tours from San Francisco or LA.

Book in advance

There are a variety of things that you need to book in advance. Yosemite is extremely popular, so I highly recommend booking your accomodation and hiking permits in advance.

Some accomodation and hikes have a preseason lottery and then a daily lottery for tickets.

Go to recreation.gov to find out more and enter the lottery.

Hikes

Half Dome
Although I haven’t had the chance to hike the Half Dome cable route myself, I had to include it in this list, and add it to my wish list below. I have always wanted to hike it, but never managed to visit in the right time of year. You can’t climb Half Dome unless the cables are up, which is generally late May to October.
 
Distance: 17 miles (22.7 km) roundtrip via the Mist Trail
Elevation: 8,842 ft (2,695 m)
Difficulty: Strenuous
Time: 10-14 hours
Begin at: Happy Isles via the Mist Trail

Mist Trail
Distance: 3 miles (4.8 km) round trip to Vernal Fall, 7 miles (11 km) round trip to Nevada Fall. If you walk from Curry Village instead of catching a shuttle bus to the trailhead, add an extra 1.5 miles (2.4 km) round trip.
Elevation: 4,000 feet (1,200m)
Difficulty: Moderate
Time: 2 – 5 hours depending on how far you go. 
Begin at: Happle Isles, shuttle stop #16
Water available on the trail, and bathrooms.

Nevada Fall
Distance: 7 miles (11 km) round trip to Nevada Fall. If you walk from Curry Village instead of catching a shuttle bus to the trailhead, add an extra 1.5 miles (2.4 km) round trip.
Elevation: 4,000 feet (1,200m)
Difficulty: Medium but may become strenuous if go all the way to the top of Nevada Falls. 
Time: 2 – 5 hours depending on how far you go. 
Begin at: Happle Isles, shuttle stop #16
Water available on the trail, and bathrooms.
 
If you can push through and make to the top of Nevada falls, the view is pretty amazing. 
Vernal Falls

Vernal Fall is only 317 ft (96 m) tall but it’s among the most powerful waterfalls in Yosemite. Unlike Yosemite Fall or Bridalveil Fall, Vernal cannot be viewed from the valley floor by car. To see it you must get on the trail. 

In the winter, the trail to the base of Vernal Fall generally remains open and you can walk a mile to the footbridge and enjoy a beautiful view from the base of the falls.

The best time of year for seeing Vernal Fall at peak flow is late April to early May, but this waterfall tends to run almost year round except for in late August and before the first rains of autumn. It can be slippery or icy in winter and some sections of the trail may close.

Four Mile Trail
The four mile trail is another one that I haven’t had the pleasure of doing myself, but it’s on my wish list. I’ve seen the view from Glacier Point by car, and it is definitely worth it. So I’d love to do this hike to see the view from some different angles. 
 
Distance: 4.8 mi (7.7 km) one way to Glacier Point. 9.6 mi (15.5 km) round trip.
Elevation: 3,200 ft (975 m) elevation gain
Difficulty: Strenuous
Time: 3-4 hours one-way, 6-8 hours round trip
Begin at: Four Mile Trailhead along Southside Drive in Yosemite Valley

 

Drives

Yosemite Valley Loop

Best way to see Yosemite’s landmarks such as El Capitan, Half Dome, Bridalveil Falls, Meadows, and the general camping areas is by car around the Valley Loop. This is where you will start your trip, you can park at trailheads to go hiking, climbing or camping.

During peak tourist season there’s a lot of congestion, so the best way to avoid this is by bike around the Valley Loop. The valley is only 7 miles long and 1 mile wide, so you it is definitely do-able by bike.

Glacier Point Road

As well as the walk you can easily drive to Glacier Point look out. It’s accessibly from the valley, however, it is dependant on the time of year and weather permitting.

Wawona Road

Wawona Road is how you will find your way into the valley. Through Wawona Road if how you can get to Mariposa Grove, Wawona, Glacier Point Road and Wawona Tunnel. Wawona Tunnel has some of the most beautiful views, which you would have passed through on the way into the valley. 

El Portal Road

El Portal Road is a great way to get a nice Valley view. You can access and see the the Merced River Gorge, which runs parallel El Portal Road, and make your way to El Portal (Community).

Along El Portal Road you can also find some crags to climb, like this one, if you’re into climbing. 

El Portal

Check out this short clip of some of the drives through Yosemite.

My Wish List

Half Dome Cable Route

Four Mile Tail

Tuolumne Meadow

Mariposa Grove

Yosemite National Park Essentials

Sunglasses

Approach shoes or hiking shoes

Jet boil

First Aid Kit

Bear Box

Travel United States of America

The Most Amazing Experience in Arizona

I was lucky enough to have a friend that skydives for a hobby.

I am even luckier to have had this jump organised, and I appreciate everyone that jumped with me. It was truly amazing.

Thank you to Skydive Arizona in Eloy for the amazing jump.

If you are interested in skydiving I cannot recommend these guys enough.

They are super friendly, and make sure you feel safe and secure letting you know what’s happening every step of the way.

Check out their website. You can also check out the Sky Venture Arizona website for information on the wind tunnel.

If you have thought about skydiving, but don’t think you have the stomach for it.

I highly recommend jumping in the wind tunnel, I guarantee you will want to skydive afterwards.

Happy skydiving 🙂

DIY Tours Travel United States of America

Zion National Park, Utah

Zion is a beautiful National Park in Utah, that can be experienced by anyone. Most of the park can be seen by car or shuttle bus.

If you have the energy for it, you can walk some of the hiking trails. One of its most famous is Angel’s Landing, which is quite a strenuous hike.

We were a little put off by the number of people when taking the shuttle, as well as the number of people hiking to Angel’s Landing, so we decided to drive away from the crowds.

We drove the Zion Park Scenic Byway, and found some magical places with very little people around. Here are a few things you can find along the scenic byway:

Petroglyphs

Petroglyphs are rock carvings made by pecking directly on the rock surface using a stone chisel and a hammer stone. Random fact, rock paintings are called pictographs.

To find the petroglyphs travel down the byway, you will pass through two tunnels, one that is quite lengthy and a second shorter tunnel.

When you pass the second smaller tunnel, drive approximately 1.4 miles past it, and you will pass a small stone wall on the left. Continue driving, until you find a wooden fence on your right with a parking bay.

You can park by the wooden fence and walk back to the stone wall, just off the road behind it you will find a tunnel that passes under the road.

Don’t walk through the tunnel, if you stay on the stone wall side of the tunnel, and walk inwards from the road you will find the petroglyphs. 

It is indicated that humans have occupied Zion for 7000 years. The age of the petroglyphs is unknown but could date back this long as well. 

I hope that people treat these with respect, as the more they are touched, the faster they are going to be damaged and worn down.

If you wonder through the small canyon here, you will find some beautiful walks and rock formations.

Wearing a pair really great approach shoes, will make it a lot easier to walk and scramble over the sandstone.

Small Slot Canyons

If you continue driving down the byway, stop at the next parking bay on the right. Here you’ll find some small slot canyons, and an approach to a climbing route just off the road.

Walking down off the road will bring you to a tunnel that runs underneath, you can walk through to the other side and find more crevices to explore.

Please experience the park in all its natural beauty and respect it.

Crystals and Gems

I absolutely love crystals. When driving into Zion National Park you will find loads of gem shops scattered down the main street.

Even if you don’t want to invest in any, I highly recommend stopping in to have a look at some of their spectacular pieces.

The prices are fair, and the shop owners are really friendly.

Zion National Park Essentials

  1. Sunglasses and sunscreen
  2. Approach shoes or hiking shoes, especially if you’re exploring the sandstone.
  3. Food and water, there isn’t much around inside the national park.
  4. First Aid Kit, this is just an essential in most National Parks.