20 April, 2016

California National Parks

We wanted to see some of California's National Parks but timing was of the essence. Every day we checked the weather - we needed it to be not too hot for Death Valley and yet no snow in the higher elevations for Pinnacles, Sequoia, and Yosemite. This is hard to do when the elevations vary from 280 ft below sea level to 8,000 ft above sea level. We didn't quite achieve our goal but got close enough to still have a great time

Our first stop was Death Valley. It was 102 F (about 39 C) at the visitor centre the day we arrived! We decided to delay our exploring until the following cooler morning and lay low in the afternoon. Repeat until done. Amazing scenery.
We took this picture to make postcards for the grandkids.  Why do you think Julie is wearing her snorkel gear?

We weren't expecting to see a bog in Death Valley

The Trona Pinnacles are an unusual geological feature in the California Desert. The unusual landscape consists of more than 500 spires of porous rock, some as high as 140 feet, rising from the bed of the Searles Lake dry basin. Quite a few films are shot here every year.

Next stop Sequoia National Park, elevation 6,500ft. We had a 2 day window before snow was forecast. After being in the desert all year so far we were in heaven to be back in the forest with these magnificently enormous trees. We both got cricks in our necks from looking up.

This is looking back over the road into Sequoia

It's nippy in the snow

Mark is so glad to be back in the forest he's hugging the Sequoia

Yosemite was still scheduled to receive snow so we diverted to Pinnacles National Park. But first we had to wait out 3 days of rain. We lucked out and and found an amazing free campground just 20 miles south where we rested, walked, and enjoyed the beautiful scenery.

Pinnacles was great - we walked through tight rock formations and caves and enjoyed many more wildflowers. Sorry - we seem to have misplaced our photos for this stop.

Another 2 day window so see Yosemite, it's at 8,000 feet elevation and still had snow on the ground. The plus side of this is that the waterfalls, for which this park is famous, were more profuse than they've been for the last several years. We see why everyone raves about this park. The valley is probably ½ mile wide and the sides are sheer rock, creating amazing sunrises and sunsets, very dramatic waterfalls, and steep trails. There was a lot of wildlife available for viewing in the valley floor. We consider ourselves very lucky to have come here while it was warm enough to enjoy, yet before the high season with it's hordes of tourists from around the world.

Upper & Lower Yosemite Falls

Bridalveil Fall

It's a good job Mark suggested bringing or raincoats when we walked to the bottom of Bridalveil Fall

The view of Yosemite Valley

All this only took 11 days, a bit on the fast-track side for us, who normally travel at the speed of parked. We look forward to returning at a more leisurely pace with fewer weather constraints.