Another early rise got us on the road about 7:45. Everything I had read about Yosemite said to get there as early as possible. We still had a 2 hour drive ahead of us to get to Yosemite Valley.
I think we drove through the park for about an hour before we came to a really big tunnel. Funny--people slow down and honk when driving through this tunnel just like the do at the Wallace Tunnel--tourists! When we came out of the dark, we had a great view of Yosemite Valley.
As we continued to drive down into the valley, the traffic grew worse and worse. We were fixated on getting to the bike rental place before all the bikes rented out, so we missed the turn to Bridal Veil Fall. Then, we began searching for a place to park--not an easy task. We finally found a place and began searching for the bike rentals. We ended up having to take one of the free shuttles to the Yosemite Lodge. The bike rental place was right next to an Olympic size pool which looked very inviting because be then we had worked up a sweat walking. (The attendant told us that they keep the pool heated to 80 degrees year round, so I am not sure it would have been very refreshing!)
We got on our bikes and took off for Yosemite Falls. You can not ride your bike down this path. As we walked closer and closer to the falls, we started feeling sprinkles of cool water. I did not think we would be able to walk as close to the fall as we did. Once we were there, we could have gotten soaking wet if we stood in the right place long enough. The rushing water sounded like hundreds of cars speeding down the interstate.
We got back on our bikes and headed for Half Dome Village. This was about a mile and a half trek past a beautiful meadow and mountain views. We ate a great lunch at the village and then started to look for the Half Dome. Apparently, I am not very good at reading maps, because the girls and I got into an argument about which mountain was the Half Dome. I finally conceded that I was wrong, and we saw the Half Dome. It was awe-inspiring.
Next, we pedaled our bikes towards the Mirror Lakes. This trail took us by another swift moving river that bounded over large rocks and was surrounded by pretty trees. We got to a point where we could no longer ride our bikes, and had to hike the rest of the way up the trail. Before starting our hike, the girls had to test the water!
We arrived at the Mirror Lakes, but they were not what I was expecting. I thought there would be an actual lake! In reality, the river created a natural dam that formed the lakes. They are named Mirror because when they freeze, the ice reflects the view of the mountains above.
To my surprise, people were swimming in the river! I did not think this would be allowed because at Sequoia, you could not get in the water. Here, it was encouraged. There was a huge boulder in the middle of the water that one could swim to and climb upon. There were some crazies out there diving off the rock! Madison and Claire waded out into the water and said that it felt awesome. They talked me into joining them.
As I waded out into the water, my feet immediately began to hurt. I thought I would get used to cold as I walked out into the sun covered water, but I didn't. The pain intensified so greatly, I had to immediately go back to the shore. I though I would start crying due to the pain, but once I was out of the water, I felt much better. Funny thing is, my legs didn't hurt at all.
By now about three hours had passed, and we needed to return our bikes to the rental place. We rode through a beautiful forest that smelled wonderful. (Seriously, this scent needs to be bottled!) As we were biking, we came upon a family on the path. Madison yelled, "On your left!" At this point, walkers are supposed to move to the right. Instead, they moved to the left. Madison tried to miss them by driving off the path. This caused her bike to skid on the pine needles and resulted in her falling and scraping her knee pretty badly. The people helped her clean up and gave her a water.
We made it back safely to the rental place and began walking back to our car. As we were walking, a deer traipsed across the parking lot. It was very confused but made it safely into the forest.
As we drove out, we passed El Capitan. It cast a long shadow over us and the valley. It was truly awe inspiring.
We did not take many pictures in Yosemite because we were riding our bikes, and we were too busy looking around. I wish I had taken more, but I guess I will save that for next time. This is another place that you need to stay at least week at to experience a good bit of what it has to offer.
Steve was very correct when he told us that we cannot miss Yosemite!
We left Yosemite with headed to our Airbnb in San Francisco and got in about 9 pm and were glad to get some rest when we arrived.