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San Francisco, Yosemite - 2004
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There's nobody knows the area better than a local so we hired a guy with a Jeep to take us across California to the Sierra Nevada and into Yosemite (pronounced Yo-seme-ti) National Park. We had to be up early as he came to pick us up at 7am and we weren't back until 7pm so it was a full but fantastic day. In fact we completely ran out of superlatives to describe the scenery. Amazing, fantastic, unbelievable, stunning, dramatic, beautiful ....... completely overpowering .... .... something else ..
There's nobody knows the area better than a local so we hired a guy with a Jeep to take us across California to the Sierra Nevada and into Yosemite National Park And at that time of the morning the roads were deserted! Here's Darryl and our driver, Hank, at the side of a lake - this one was man-made but you'd never have known
And on up into the hills And we eventually reached the snow-line. So we had to stop to throw a few snow-balls of course In the distance is Half Dome, one of the more easily recognisable mountains in Yosemite. The Yosemite valley was formed by glacial erosion in the last ice-age so there are some dramatic highs and lows depending where the glacier went
And here is a good example of what a load of ice can do as it moves down a valley. It took me right back to geography lessons at school Sad to say but I'm not sure which this mountain is - there were just so many ... this one, which I think is El Capitan, shows exactly how high they are from the valley floor
We asked Hank to take our photo with the mountains in the background with El Capitan This is Bridalveil Falls, 620ft (200m) high. You can walk right to the bottom of it but it's not recommended. As we were visiting in late Fall there wasn't much water to flow but I guess in Spring the amount of water must be stunning The sides of the valley are so high that, in the bottom, the sunlight doesn't last long in any particular point. Here's Darryl in the shade for once
And you turn the corner and find another stunning and vertical rock-face, this one is El Capitan, a rock face some 3,000ft (900m) high and very popular with rock climbers The water and the air are so clean up here it almost takes your breath away. There's little to pollute the land and the National Park Service are very 'hot' on making sure it stays this way So here we are again, with the Upper Yosemite Falls and the highest waterfalls in North America in the background. Well the Lower ones are there too but you can't see them for the trees.
And lunch-time arrived so Hank headed for a hotel in the middle of the park - Ahwahnee. Though with rooms from $350 a night there was no way we could ever stay there. Lunch was good though - we sat outside in the sunshine and ordered from the bar menu. And then closer to the Yosemite Falls. Here you can see the 1,430ft Upper falls to the top right behind the trees and the 320ft Lower falls just left of centre. Believe it or not they are the same set of falls connected by a 675ft cascading drop, known as the Cateracts. And so high that you need binoculars to get a good view of them. This is Stuart and Hank (the driver) straining to see. Then it was time to head home
And one last look back at Half Dome , which rises 4,800ft (1,450m) above the valley floor, before we head back to SF

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