Yosemite: the valley

Got up at 5am because I wanted to reach Glacier Point by sunrise. Stopped on the way to get some nice shots of a promising pink sky, but by the time I got back in the car the pink had gone and it looked like a pretty bland sunrise. Sure enough at Glacier Point there was a grey-blue start to the day which was not very photogenic. If there hadn't been some deer walking about I would have been looking for someone to give me my money back. Eventually the sun broke through the clouds but the shots I had come for didn't materialise. If there is no pinks sky most of Yosemite actually looks better in the evening. Some you win, some you loose.

When the rest of the family got up and we finished packing we went on to the highlight: the valley itself. What a disappointment! Not quite unexpected really, but it was absolutely packed. It is a high-season Saturday after all.

Stopped for the classic valley view at Tunnel View before heading for a short walk to Bridalveil Fall. There we had a great time (amongst the crowds) sliding down the slippery rocks. From there things got pretty bad: we were unable to park at Curry Village (all we wanted to really do there was grab some chips and have a picnic) and then we found ourselves in a massive traffic jam. We decided to skip Yosemite Village and the visitor centre completely as it would probably take an hour to park. Finally we got out of the crowds at an unmarked parking place somewhere between Camp 4 and El Capitan where we could walk next to the river for a bit and grab a bite to eat. Yosemite valley is a magical place, but obviously that magic doesn't go unnoticed. I guess if you have to visit it in high season with kids the best thing to do is rent a bike and cycle down the paths laughing at the dumb tourists in the traffic jam.

Had another short walk round El Capitan. Saw a few people climbing it, though we expected more this time of year. If we ever get good at climbing we are definitely coming back here again.

On the way to our cottage we saw a huge section of burnt forest. I remember seeing it on the news last year: fires had decimated parts of Yosemite (and next door's Stanislaus National Forest). In fact they had been stopped just 4 miles from out cottage. The cottage is great, and for the first time in 5 months we have two bedrooms. The area round here is great too, I think tomorrow we will explore round here instead of facing the weekend crowds at Yosemite.

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