After hugging the coast and exploring the lovely costal towns, we took a more rugged turn and ventured west to Yosemite. We had considered skipping this stop because it was a little out of our way, but it proved to be definitely worth the drive. Entering into the famous valley we were wowed by the majestic views. I particularly loved seeing the 2,425ft Yosemite Falls. The water seems to pour from the clouds right over the rock face.
When we arrived, we were both nursing colds so we didn’t feel up to doing much hiking. Instead, we did some small hikes to the sequoias and waterfalls and went on some beautiful drives through the park. Glacier point was a long windy drive up to the best lookout over the valley. We hit a few feet of snow at points which made us remember our cold start in January.
On one of our drives we passed a unique red flower on the size of the road. It turned out to be one of the coolest flowers I have ever seen. The plant is a parasite that doesn’t need light so it comes up in shady areas where other flowers would never have a chance. It feeds of of fungi in the roots of trees for food. Absolutely unusual.
Because Yosemite is so popular and we hadn’t made reservations in advance, we stayed in a unique campground. It wasn’t fancy – just some flat ground with trees divided into a grid with round concrete dividers. Three groups then shared each square spot. It wasn’t luxury, but it was a good way to pack a lot of people in and give them a place to sleep while exploring the valley. It was cheap so we didn’t mind. We started out the night in our tent, but at 3am we were both awake and cold so we wimped out and spent the rest of the night in our comfy warm van with the heater on. In the morning, we found out that we had set up camp right next to a few Calvin graduates. Then when we were at the visitor center, we met another calvin graduate that Taylor had had a class with. Serendipity.
We had fun seeing the giant sequoias and fantastic cliffs and waterfalls, but we didn’t stay long before heading west again. On our drive out of the park we saw that the national forest outside of Yosemite was closed because it had recently been burned. We learned later that it is perfect morel mushroom territory. Apparently there’s an estimated $23 million in mushrooms that can’t be harvested because the park is closed for safety reasons after the fire. It’s a good thing we didn’t learn this until after left, otherwise we would have been tempted to sneak in and do some gathering!