USA 2015 – Part 2 : Yosemite

Los Angeles to San Francisco via Big Sur (Part 1) was only the first 3 days of my road trip. At this point I was already losing my shit at the ridiculous beauty I had seen. And after a quick stop at the American tradition that is Walmart to grab camping supplies, I was ready to lose it again. But only after a cop car sped by me on the 4 lane highway, only to slow down to ~20 mph right in front of me and weave between all the lanes for 30 minutes, causing us all to slow down to a crawl. And just as suddenly as it began, he killed the flashing lights and sped off, leaving your poor Australian tourist confused.

But only for a short time, because with the windows down, Modest Mouse’s classic road trip album “This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About” blaring, I just couldn’t help but smile like a madman on the gorgeous drive into Yosemite National Park.

The one bad thing about doing all the driving yourself, is you would drive by so many beautiful things and not be able to take a photo of it. Unlike the other recent USA roadtrips (2012 + 2014) I wasn’t just a daydreaming passenger. Pictures like the above were taken during pitstops, this one particularly when I had to pee about 30 minutes before the entry to Yosemite.

But after I drove in, grabbed one of the last campsites and explored, there was plenty of time for photos. All with the biggest damn smile on my face.

The ridiculously large scale of Yosemite is hard to see in the photos, but try to spot the tiny spots that are people and vehicles in the two photos above taken from just near the visitor centre.

After a quick explore and chat with some rangers, I decided to have my lunch the next day on top of Yosemite Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in the world.

It was below freezing early in the morning, which actually worked in my favour. At that time of year, the waterfall is generally not running. But thanks to some very early snows, there was some water running over the top.

It didn’t take long to lose my thermals on the very rapid ascent. On the way up I saw almost nobody, leaving me to my thoughts for a couple of hours (and a few minutes of chasing my camera lens down the path as it tried to roll away). It was steep and very dry, but every time I looked back the view was amazing.

I also discovered at about this point that Yosemite has amazingly fast 4G and its own Snapchat filters, so I probably spammed way too many people who were asleep back home in Australia.

I evenutally made it to the top of the waterfall for my first of many summit beers of the trip. At this point I was almost as high as the highest point in Australia.

But, being me, and being fairly early in the day, I decided to keep going. You can see some of the trail I climbed up here.

I had a very long lunch and just stared at this view for over an hour.

On the way up I only encountered a few hikers, all foreigners. But on the way down there was a tonne of people struggling up the path, starting very late in the heat of the day and ill-equipped. I saw someone wearing a fur coat and complaining about the heat. When I asked him why he didn’t take it off, he said he didn’t want to carry it. I saw plenty of people with no supplies and just a single (empty) water bottle. One girl, who had been fighting with her boyfriend the whole time I saw them, asked if there was a tap somewhere nearby to fill up their bottles. I told them if they hiked about another 4 miles and up about another 500 feet vertically there would be running water right at the top of the waterfall (which I filled my own bottles from). I saw so many people in jeans and thongs. And all of these ill-equipped hikers seemed to be Americans. I felt bad for my few park ranger friends, knowing how often they have to deal with these idiots.

Old man ranting aside, one of the biggest (non-shit-tourists) disappointments in Yosemite was that the main Redwood tree grove was closed for tourists. But I went on a wander down a random path and managed to stumble across 6 of them!

This isn’t a picture of the redwoods. None of the pictures I took could do them justice. The size is just incredible. It’s hard to imagine just how long the tree had been there growing.

There was a cool cabin at the base of the grove though.

I also attempted star photography for the first time on my trip. Which turned out to be a constant disappointment, mainly because in the time I was in America, the moon was already risen by the time it got dark and the extra light washed out a lot of my photos. It wasn’t setting until 2 am and I was too tired to stay up late/wake up early to really get the photos I wanted.

I packed up and hit the road back to LA to start my real road trip: to Denver for Kenny’s wedding. With a few stops on the way, starting in Part 3 – Joshua Tree.

There’s a gallery of a few more selected images below, otherwise if you like any of these pictures you can buy a print, canvas (or more!) in my webstore: https://society6.com/moshpitson. If the photo you want isn’t in there, let me know!

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  1. By moshpitson » USA 2015 – Part 1 : Big Sur on April 20, 2016 at 4:39 pm

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