We visited Yosemite in October 2003 on a once in a lifetime holiday to celebrate 14 years together and 7 years of marriage. The only parts of the holiday that we booked were our flights (into Denver and out of LA), our SUV and the hotel for the first night; I’d never been to the States before and my husband had only been to Florida many years before. We had a rough plan for the road trip of places we wanted to see and things we wanted to do in our 17 days. We stayed in motels and turn of the century hotels stopping where we wanted to but rarely staying more than one night. Our first NP was Arches, then the Grand Canyon and Death Valley. We drove into Yosemite via Tioga Pass; taking almost a day to do so as we kept stopping to take photos of the unbelievable scenery. Amazingly (and I didn’t realise how amazing it was at the time) we managed to get a cabin in the Valley for 2 nights, It was dark by the time we came to eat and the outlets were starting to close; we ate pizza on the terrace with raccoons around our feet. I sat outside the cabin looking up at the Sequioa tree and at the stars listening to the silence. We had never been to anywhere comparable and I can still remember the sense of awe and amazement. In the morning we hiked along the river while a coyote strolled past and round the next corner we encountered a deer who just looked at us until we were almost in touching distance and then majestically walked away. It was a magical few days. We hiked to Bridalveil Falls; there was no water in Yosemite Falls and we were told that that wasn’t unusual but that it had been a particularly dry summer. Which was good news because it gave us a really good excuse to return to Yosemite to see the Falls in action.
So we planned the next “once in a lifetime” holiday for the spring of 2005 and in April 2005 we arrived in San Francisco and we were to fly back from Denver. The plan was to drive the Tioga Pass west to east; this time I booked us a cabin in advance. Driving into the Park at dusk there was snow banked up to four foot beside the road and ice on the road and the paths. On the plus side there was masses of water in the Falls falling into ice and snow; an incredible sight and noise. We couldn’t drive Tioga Pass as, obviously, it wasn’t open yet. The change of plan took us south to a Californian Poppy Reserve which was great but even better as we hadn’t been able to drive the Tioga Pass from west to east — that was a really good excuse to return to Yosemite.
Last time we returned to Yosemite, in October 2011, we couldn’t stay in the Valley as it was fully booked. So we stayed at Wawoma which was a wonderful experience; comfort and pampering in such amazing surroundings. We stood in silence staring up at the stars; I could hear them sing. We hiked the Mariposa Grove and ate far too much good food. On the journey out we did manage to drive the Tioga Pass again (west to east) and again it took us all day; stopping frequently to take photos. So our really good excuse for returning next time? We want to show Yosemite to the next generation particularly to our grandson. Although if that wasn’t a really good excuse, I am sure that we could find another one.
Kay F. Ecclestone
St Austell, Cornwall, England