Once again Herb and I are very lucky campers and a friends parents had agreed to let us stay with them in San Francisco for a few days. We spent the first couple of days off the bike exploring the city, drinking coffee, eating a lot of food and hopping in the Pacific for a quick dip. We then rented a big black drug dealer style 4×4 and headed inland. Yosemite had always been on the cards as somewhere we wanted to visit, who knows when we’ll be back in this part of the world? It was an opportunity not to be missed.
As luck would have it the heavens opened the day we collected the car and we were immediately thankful not to be on the bikes. It took about four hours to head into the park and by the time we got there it was pretty dark and everything was closed. Like complete naive tourists we didn’t expect it to be that busy mid week in late October, we were so wrong! What didn’t help either was that half of the campsites in the park were closed for the winter so all remaining camping was completely full. It was now very dark, very rainy and you are 100% not allowed to sleep in your car. Our options were to drive an hour back out of the National park and pull over on the side of the road to sleep in a lay-by or get completely ripped off in a walled tent. At $150 per night you get to stay under a piece of tarp you aren’t even allowed to cook in and still have to walk 100m to the bathroom. We later heard that people generally have to book five months in advance to get camping spots in Yosemite. Oops! On the plus side Yosemite do operate a cancellation system where if you cancel your camping by noon you get a refund. The next day our only option was to put our names down for cancelled camping. We were then fortunate to get enough camping for the rest of the week by finding cancelled spots every day, we also met some other Aussie and German tourists in the same boat as us and buddied up to share campsites – therefore splitting the cost and making everything much cheaper.
Anyway, enough badly organised camping woes. Yosemite turned out to be pretty awesome. The beginning of our week was spent hiding from the downpour in the big posh hotel. The lobby was full of campers like us hiding from monsoon, using the internet and thawing out beside the humungous fire. Luckily nobody seemed to mind too much and there is something quite nice about being inside beside a massive fire while outside the heavens caused two days of continuous rain. The soggy start was followed by four days of blue sky and blinding sunshine, plus the waterfalls were magnificent from all the extra water.
Despite the valley floor being really busy as soon as we hiked up the number of people dramatically declined, we were treated to hours of hiking and breathtaking views pretty much on our own. I guess tourists like busses and a bus doesn’t get you very far off the beaten track in Yosemite, luckily for us we are terrible tourists. The only not very downside to hiking alone is that you (we) suddenly became very terrified of bears. We were torn between wanting to see one, and then not wanting to see anything bigger than a chihuahua. Luckily for us all bears and chihuahuas were absent from all our hiking that week, we only had each other for company.
Despite our massive thighs having cycled 2000 miles our legs were in absolute agony all week. We haven’t run or walked much in two months and our legs definitely noticed the change in exercise regime. Poking each others quads first thing in the morning quickly became a new torture game.
While in the park we also bumped into Flo and Lau from Montreal. They have been cycling the coast for the last six weeks too and we have intermittently been bumping into them. Very lovely ladies taking a semester out of school, we most definitely support that type of behaviour. The other only obvious person to bump into while hiking in Yosemite was Herbie’s cousin, Susan. Yes. We are coming to an end of a 13mile hike, a girl turns around to ask for directions before stopping mid sentence to blurt out ‘that’s my cousin’. They have not seen each other for about a decade and had no idea each other were in America let alone Yosemite National Park. Luck of the Irish or something?!
After the Yosemite hiking we headed back into San Francisco ready to mount up again. Despite having nine days off the bike all the hiking meant our legs hadn’t really rested at all. However, you can sleep when you’re dead and it just meant we ate even more food to keep our energy levels topped up.
The compass is set to south and there is supposed to be lots of rain. Here we go!