Alice from Hong Kong, who was sleeping next to me at the hostel, was also going to Yosemite, so we walked down to the meeting point at 5:30. When the bus had not arrived by 6:10, Alice telephoned, and was told it was two blocks away. Our driver, Vlad, seemed a bit fierce when picking up travellers, but once we were on the way, he launched into his spiel – friendly and interesting, but too keen on pointing out that he wanted a tip. Almost everyone on the coach was English. We stopped for a walk down to see at least one giant sequoia, but all the trees were so tall it was hard to work out which were the Giants – apart from one which had a hole in it wide enough to drive a car through.
On arrival at Yosemite Lodge we had lunch, and I booked a couple of tours. It was not yet check-in Tim so I decided to walk to Half Dome Village rather than getting the shuttle. The first “village” founded by the Currys had 7 tents and cost $2 a night including dinner. Now there are hundreds of tent-cabins and the daily rate is more expensive even than the first night in Chicago Freehand. Also the name “Curry” disappeared when new management took over early this year, which is a pity. I then slept for about an hour. Having plenty of time, I did not do any serious walking that day, just the “Night Prowl” tour, where I was too focused on keeping just behind the person in front without bumping into her to pay attention to the scents of meadow plants. Again, the vast majority of takers were English, including a couple of families. The small children behaved very well, and a boy of about 10 volunteers to be the back-marker.
On Tuesday I decided to try a “moderate” trail up to the Vernal Fall bridge. I then kept going, as the path got steeper and was made up of rough rocky steps.
Opposite the bottom of the fall, enough was enough. I walked down with an Australian couple, Greg and Anita. I then walked round to Mirror Lake, just a tiny pond at this time of year, and followed the Valley Trail to Degnam’s Deli, where one sandwich proved enough for 2 meals. After lunch I had a look at the Lower Yosemite Falls, also dry now, and made my way across the meadow and river to the Chapel, one of the oldest buildings though moved a short distance from the original Yosemite village. It turns out that the midweek service is on Thursdays, not Wednesday’s as in the park programme, so I shall miss it. Still, I have found a lovely quiet place to say Morning Prayer just behind the campsite.
On Wednesday morning I took the bus tour to Glacier Point – very close to Half Dome Village on the map, but much higher up and a long bus ride with commentary from our driver Bill. Many intrepid people (like the ones on the left) were planning on walking down. I had decided this was too ambitious for me, and what I heard from a passenger on the shuttle bus confirms this view. I just took a few steps along the Panorama Trail. On the way back we saw a bear.
In the evening I went to the theatre – a one-man show about John Muir. Very well done. Long wait for the right shuttle bus to take us back to Half Dome, so too late for the dining room and the only hot food available was pizza – actually a good pizza, with thin crust, and pineapple topping giving a bit of moisture. That night was the warmest of the three, the only one when I have not felt uncomfortably cold.
In the morning, after checking out, I walked about 7 miles of the valley loop trail, thus completing the four easy and two moderate trails in the valley according to the map. I found the right coach at the second attempt. Since he was not leaving until 3, I went down to soak my feet in the river. This driver plays music all the way instead of talking, and gave us three short stops which I could have done without. But he did let me off just round the corner from my new hotel.