We’d started to hear over the previous few days that due to the huge winter snowfall & the very late spring, the rivers in Yosemite National Park are running very high. Consequently, the waterfalls were supposed to be spectacular. As we drove towards the park, we noticed easily that the Merced River (this river flows out of the Yosemite Valley) was high & in many places nothing but a raging torrent.

Our first big stop in the park was after eventually getting a park to walk the short distance to Bridalveil Falls. Seeing quite a few people returning rather drenched, I grabbed my rainjacket out of the car & wandered up. From a distance, the fall looked like this – you can see part of the spray cloud at the bottom.

Not far up the short trail, the river started to overrun the trail – being recently melted snow this was pretty chilly through flip-flops/jandals. At the viewing point the spray was so intense I was quickly quite wet (glad I put my jacket on) & could only just see the top of the falls.

Yosemite Falls & a flooded meadow & boardwalk.

We rode the shuttle bus around a bit further & walked up to see more waterfalls – this time Vernall Falls. The Merced was still thundering down this narrow steep part – the noise was fantastic. The nice wide trail was paved, but steep in parts. The final staircase was another path to a sound drenching & the view was somewhat obscured by a dead tree trunk.

After lunching near Vernall Falls, we returned to the valley floor & did the nice easy Mirror Lake walk underneath Half Dome. The highlight of this was the bear cub that came wandering along on the way back. Rather it ran along & then bolted across the trail. Mama Bear was nowhere to be seen, so that was great news.

The shuttle still doesn’t cope well with the gongshow that is summer in Yosemite, but we eventually got to the bottom of Yosemite Falls (the fifth highest in the world).

That was pretty much our day in Yosemite Valley. I enjoyed my visit so much more this time – the tremendous volume of water flowing & the sound associated with it was incredible.

Packing up in Merced we again headed for Yosemite – this time to drive over Tioga Pass & then head north through Nevada to South Lake Tahoe (which is back in California, but only just). Our only real break from driving was walking to Tuolumne Grove (giant sequoias). The largest living things on earth (by volume), it goes without saying that these things are pretty big – they can get old too, up to three-thousand years. This is a hollowed out trunk of a long-ago dead one to give a sense of size.

Almost immediately after leaving the grove, we started to come across more & more snow. The views along the road were beautiful with snow still capping the high points – it was well gone last time I drove this road.

Still a little bit of snow at Tioga Pass (just under 10000ft/2900m):

Out of the park, we lost elevation a lot quicker than we’d gained it & were soon driving north through west Nevada. I was surprised to see the scenery gradually change into nice green pastoral land – I’d never expected to see black-faced sheep grazing in Nevada. I’m well pleased to be travelling roads I’ve never been on before.  With a big climb up & then down, we were at Lake Tahoe in no time.

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