Imagine a column of stone 400 miles long and 80 miles wide, reaching up to ten thousand feet high, hammered into a staggered zig-zag corridor by glacier ice melting ferociously, filled slowly with thousands of lofty pines and redwoods, with its own dramatic climate, unpredictable and theatrically flamboyant.... no I couldn't either. You have to visit Yosemite to appreciate it. America's first National Park, over 1000 square miles, is a unique place where like the movie says 'every dawn is a new beginning.' The movie, at the visitor's village, relates how this incredible area played a key role in conservation awareness, thanks largely to John Muir - but it's the 5-hour cycle around the valley to stare at amazing crags of rock, and the treks up to view those magnificent falls, that really show the magic of this place. Anja and Mo had booked us a yurt in Groveland, just outside the park itself, and though it was a tight fit for the 4 of us I've never camped so luxuriously before - microwave, coffee-maker, and fridge too.
Brilliant sunshine made Friday ideal for cycling up down the valley and back (our hired bikes had neither gears nor brakes, which gave an added sense of adventure...) and we chose the next day, since it was dramatically misty, to hike to the major falls and viewpoints. I took over 300 pictures and missed thousands more - if I'd stopped for every photo-opportunity I wouldn't have got far through this spectacular corridor of towering crags, massive cascades, redwood glades , sunlight on water and turning leaves, with reflections of these stunning vistas in every mirror pool.
Back now in Half Moon Bay, we're still staggered and bemused by the vastness and variations of this awesome environment. Like John Muir says: " This is true freedom, a good practical sort of immortality."