Woke up early (again), packed our meagre belongings into the Tank and then went for breakfast in the finest (only) restaurant that Grant Grove has to offer!! Eggs, bacon, hash browns and toast all round. Yum yum yum.
After breakfast we drove down the mountain. Out of the snow and in to glorious sunshine – much more pleasant than the drive up!
The drive from Kings Canyon to Yosemite was fairly uneventful. The only real highlight came two hours into the journey when Jenny discovered that we had left the John Muir Lodge without returning our room keys. When we rang, the hotel staff were very understanding and were happy for us to post the keys back to them. What nice people.
On the edge of Yosemite National Park stands the Mariposa Grove – another grove of huge Giant Sequoia trees. Again they were magnificent – although we did manage to get lost (as a man I can only blame the poor sign posting on the routes – nothing to do with any general ineptitude on my part obviously) which meant that we spent much longer at the Grove, and walked a lot further, than we intended.
The Grove contains, amongst other things, the California Tree through which an early entrepreneur carved a tunnel (which is big enough to drive a Model T Ford through) as a tourist attraction. That guy obviously knew what he was doing as the tunnel is still attracting tourists (i.e. us) to the present day 🙂
One of the really surprising things that we noticed is how many of the trees have suffered fire damage. Because the trees are so tall they act as natural lightning conductors and often a lightning strike will set fire to the unfortunate tree. However, as long as the fire doesn’t destroy all of the bark around the base of the tree, the tree continues to grow. It is remarkable how much damage the trees can sustain and still live.
When we eventually left the Grove we drove the last 30 miles to Yosemite along twisty, windy Highway 140 before emerging through a long tunnel to a wonderful view of Yosemite Valley with Bridal Veil Falls off to the right and Half Dome in the distance.
On arrival we checked into the Yosemite Lodge at the Falls and, once we had removed everything from the Tank (to avoid any bear incidents – by this stage, because of the lurid warnings by the park rangers, we assumed that bears were hiding behind every tree and/or rock just waiting to break in to our car to steal our food (aka booze), before mugging us and possibly take us hostage for a ransom), we went for dinner at the Mountain Room Restaurant which forms part of the Lodge.
The Mountain Room Restaurant is decorated is a funky mix of 60’s modern architecture meets log cabin chic and is known for its spectacular views of Yosemite Falls. I’m sure that we would have enjoyed these views if it hadn’t been pitch black outside. While my food was lovely, Jenny’s dish had obviously been kept on a very hot, hot plate and was burnt on the underside. However, after one quick word with the waiter, we secured a complementary meal – kerching!!
Please see the gallery for more photos! (NB: click on the photos for larger versions/slideshow.)
The date was 9 November 2011. Next day – Day 10: Yosemite.