The first leg of our US Northwest Tour took us from San Francisco to Sonora, CA and Yosemite National Park.
After arriving with a very early flight from Chicago, we checked into our hotel in San Jose and headed straight to downtown San Francisco to re-visit some sites, we had first seen in 2004. Having lived in San Diego for a few years, the Newness of California was of course gone, but the city is exciting either way. Golden Gate Bridge partially in leftover Marine layer
Pier 39 with tourist season in full swing
Next stop was Sonora,Ca which was our base for visiting Yosemite National Park. Although it is about 60 miles to the park, it was one of the only places that still had open rooms that were affordable. Rooms in Yosemite valley hotels were still available, but at 250 Euros per night for a hostel type room, we preferred driving over convenience.
Western feel in Sonora, CA
We had visited Yosemite the first time in 2011 and had covered the main spots in the valley. This time we wanted to do more hiking which allowed for more scenic spots and a lot less people. So the first hike took us to Taft point which is near Glacier point but can only be reached via a hike of about 2,5 miles. The reward for a bit of sweat is outstanding scenery, great views and great drop off’s without the guard rails of glacier point. The high elevation and high temperature combined made for an exhausting hike.
The trail head of the taft point hike serves as the trail head for Sentinel dome as well. Another great spot that one can reach via a 2,2 mile hike. We had planned to do this hike as well, but decided against it due to the high temperatures. Maybe next visit – a reason to come back. 😀
Next day we took off to visit Tioga Road at Yosemite. At our last visit, this road was closed due to snow which hadn’t been cleared until the end of June- 2 weeks after our visit in 2011.
The road starts about 8 miles after the West entrance to Yosemite and leads for more than 60 miles through the high sierra. Highest point being the Tioga Pass at around 10.000 feet elevation. The pass is also the east entrance to Yosemite.
The hike we had planned started right at the east entrance and took us to Gaylor Lake, a small lake on a high plateau at an elevation of about 10.500 feet. The hike was about 3,2 miles long but felt like double that due to the elevation that we’re certainly not used to. Nevertheless, it was worth it. The steep incline at the beginning is rewarded with a majestic landscape with the lake in the center. It goes without saying, that most tourists won’t make it up there.
On our way back to Sonora we made a few more stops along the road wherever there were great view points (and there’re many). Most notably are Tenaya lake, where nature provides a sandy beach at 9.000 feet elevation and water warm enough for a swim – at least for a few weeks in summer.
The other famous spot is Olmsted point which provides a great view on Half Dome from the backside. At clear weather it is possible to see the hikers making their way along the cables upto the peak of the dome.
In only three days we’ve already seen many exciting places and discovered new sights. More to come soon about our next stop, Yellowstone National Park. Until then…..