Updated: Feb 3, 2019
Next stop on our road trip was the grand Yosemite. We packed up our car and was out the door at 7am just as the sun was rising over San Fran. After a quick coffee and Walmart stop, we arrived in at Yosemite National Park at 1pm. The roads became windier and are air smelt of pine. After coughing up $20 entry fee into the park, we drove down into Yosemite Village to start our afternoon hike up to Vernal Falls.
As it was a weekend, Yosemite Village was a hive of activity. It has a number of accommodation options, including camp grounds where you can pitch your own tent or hire one of the posher pre-assembled tents which more resemble a mini cabin. Every car park and camp ground had signs stating "BEWARE OF BEARS. DO NOT LEAVE FOOD IN YOUR CAR OR TENT". Apparently bears can smell food up to 3 miles away and can see in colour, which means they can identify an esky. While we hide our small amount of food under jackets in our car, we had visions of returning back to find a bear mounted on the bonnet trying to get the 2 bananas and bag of peanuts we hid in the glove box.
We started our hike up to the Vernal Falls and all fears of getting attacked by a bear subsided. We were surrounded by around 1000 other hikers so we were pretty sure that no bear was going to come close. And if one did, we think the odds were in our favour of being faster runners than alot of the other hikers!
The hike pretty much headed straight up for an hour and offered beautiful scenery with its leafy path and babbling brooks. It finished with a 30 minute climb up steep steps where you could view the waterfall from and actually walk up to the very top and sit next to a lovely calm lake at the top.
After a quick snack we headed back down and hit the road to get to our accommodation in Bishop. What we thought was going to be a short 1 hour drive turned out to be a 3 hour mission! Despite growling stomachs, it was one of the most enjoyable drives I have ever been on due to the spectacular scenery. I have honestly never seen anything like it before.
The following day we decided to not drive the 3 hours back to Yosemite for another hike and instead opted for one near Bishop in the Sierre Nevada. The blue skies overhead, we started our 8 mile hike to the Blue Lake. We again encountered BEWARE OF THE BEAR signs which we took a little more seriously as we were in a more wild, un-tourist populated area. We even devised a little plan should we encounter a bear: We put all the food into Tom's back pack and the car keys/wallet in mine. Tom walked with a stick so should we encounter a bear, he would attempt to scare it by waving his stick, dump the bag with the food as a present to the bear and then we would leg it away back to the car. Thankfully we didn't have to execute the plan.
The hike was stunning. It was peaceful and quiet, and the recent season change meant that many of the trees had turned a stunning orange colour that I had never seen anywhere else before. We finally reached the Blue Lake after 2 hours of hiking and it was insanely beautiful. Completely peaceful and deserted, the lake was still and surrounded by huge rock faces and green trees. We had a little picnic on the banks before heading back down to our car. During the entire 3.5 hour hike, we would have passed around 10 people - very different from the 100s we saw in Yosemite.
We stayed the night in Bishop again in what is possibly the best hostel we have every stayed in. It was more like an authentic American b&b with is cute cottage exterior to its fantastic bedrooms.
Yosemite is amazing and we highly recommend it for those who love the outdoors however Bishop was a surprise packet! Not only does it also offer great hiking, it is quieter and has a more authentic feel. If you are keen to head there, I would highly recommend early October when the trees are changing colour as it is truly beautiful.