Yosemite was never in my plans for the US.

California wasn’t even in my plans.

When I found myself in Vietnam with a spare two weeks and no decision made for where to go next, I made a last-minute decision to travel somewhere new. Flights from Ho Chi Minh City to Los Angeles were cheap, my readers over on Facebook insisted I visit San Francisco when I put it to a vote — so I aimed for a fortnight travelling up the west coast of the US.

As an aside: my China Eastern flight to Los Angeles was one of the more interesting flights I’ve had to date. The cabin staff were handing out bags of raw radishes as a snack every single hour, on an overnight flight. Did they have an excess of radishes? Do the Chinese simply love radishes? Either way, it was strange and I ended up with a daypack full of radishes by the end of the flight.

I’d wanted to visit Yosemite for years but hadn’t believed it would be possible to visit this time around, especially as I wouldn’t have my own transport. I toyed with the idea of a Yosemite coach tour with the hostel I was staying with but the $140 price tag seemed over-the-top ridiculously expensive, especially as I often don’t enjoy tours.

It was at this point that my very good friend Gina, who lives close to San Francisco, stepped in and saved the day! She had a few days off work and offered to pick me up and drive to Yosemite for a fun day of hiking, gossiping and breathtaking scenery.

We chose to hike the Mist Trail, one of the most popular hikes in the park. The trail follows alongside the Merced River, climbing up past Vernal Falls, to Nevada Falls, before looping back around via the John Muir Trail. At 11 kilometres long, this figure would have once had me reeling in horror but after hiking the Queen Charlotte Track in New Zealand, it wasn’t particularly intimidating.

And Yosemite completely and utterly blew me away. I was expecting to be impressed, but not to the extent that I was. I’d have to say that the Mist Trail was probably the most beautiful hike I’ve ever done, and that Yosemite is one of the most beautiful places Ive seen.

Here are some of my favourite photos of amazing, stunning, incredible Yosemite.

Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls

Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls

 

View of Vernal Falls

View of Vernal Falls in the distance, the first waterfall we were hiking to, with the Merced River in the foreground

 

Tame Yosemite Squirrel

I was shocked to discover just how tame the squirrels were in Yosemite! They scrambled around within inches of my feet, begging for food from anyone who was eating.

 

Nevada Falls, Yosemite

With Vernal Falls conquered, it was time to take on our second waterfall, Nevada Falls

 

Nevada Falls and Half Dome

The view of Nevada Falls and Half Dome

 

The Merced River

The Merced River

 

A side-on view of Nevada Falls

A side-on view of Nevada Falls — almost there!

 

The view from the top of Nevada Falls

The view from the top of Nevada Falls — the hike to this point was particularly strenuous

 

The view from the top of Nevada Falls

The view from the top of Nevada Falls

 

The view from the top of Nevada Falls -- the Merced River

The view from the top of Nevada Falls — the Merced River

 

View of the park from the top of Nevada Falls

View of the park from the top of Nevada Falls

 

Half Dome and Nevada Falls from the John Muir Trail

Half Dome and Nevada Falls from the John Muir Trail

 

Vernal Falls from the John Muir Trail

Vernal Falls from the John Muir Trail

I loved my time at Yosemite, and the weather was perfect for our day of hiking, with bursts of sunshine alternating with cloudy skies and cool breezes. And, while hiking up past Vernal Falls, I soon discovered why the hike is called the Mist Trail when I found myself drenched and sufficiently cooled down with a free shower from all the spray.

The Mist Trail was the perfect way introduction to Yosemite and I can’t wait to see even more of the park. I have a feeling I’ll be returning in the future — next time I’ll be spending at least a week here.

[title size=”2″]Which of these photos is your favourite?[/title]

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