Yosemite [Yoe-sim-it-ee] This was a place which was recommended by my friends and it was in my To-Do list but wasnt sure how to go about it alone. The reason being that by public transportation it would take 5-6 hrs and I would end up being there only by afternoon and would not be able to see much and have to come back again and will be back late. Even for the tours (1 day) I need to be in SFO by 6.30 or so and be back late. Driving alone is a little risky with my amateur driving skills as its a long journey and I wasnt sure how it would be.
But remember, that when you really want something, the whole world conspires…. ? Yes.. it did. The group of people who accompanied with me for Napa valley recommended me to some of their other friends (eppadi namma theramai…) and since a couple of them were planning and now with one more car they can accomodate people enough to get going. So they counted me in. But I told them that since this is a 4 hr journey and that too uphill I would want another person who can drive just in case, I am unable to do so in between the journey. So there were two cars with three drivers 😉 and we started on 16th Oct 2010 morning around 4.45 am. I wasnt even fully awake. But I opted to drive in the morning hours (better than driving @ nights.. it scares the hell out of me driving in the highway/freeway @ night in that speed..seriously). So we all started with the other girl who always opted to sit in the front giving me company :)….
We set the GPS of both the cars to a single address and made sure that it showed the same route and the other car was to go ahead of us just in case so that they we can just follow them. And then the journey started… Thaayi magamaayi nee dhaan thunai nu kelambinoam… It was pitch dark and there was the automatic light that the cars are always enabled and with that I started driving. When we hit the freeway, I was worried a little coz I couldnt see beyond a few steps ahead of me. I wasnt sure what the problem was. As long as it was a long road I didnt mind, but when there was a bend or it was climb (to / from the bridge) it made me very uneasy. I was driving like this in 80 mph following the other car but at times because of the darkness I was left behind and they went away some where. Later I found out that I didnt switch on the bright light that I was supposed to use during the travel (ada kadavule!!!yaaravadhu solla venaamaa appadi oru light use pannanumnu 😦 rombha mosam.. kanna uruti uruti paathu oatina kashtam ennaku dhaan theriyum!!) sari its ok, I went ahead like that only and was extremely grateful to God when the sun broke out a little and I could see the road a little. And then we missed them. We werent sure where they were and after some time I saw them pass us from behind.. I had no idea that I was driving so fast (road was almost empty and I didnt feel a thing about me driving @ 80 mph.. summa sarrnnuu vandi poachu..) Then again I started following them and after some time again missed them because of too many cars coming in between us. Then we said that since we have the GPS with us let us proceed and meet them. Anga aarambichadhu comedy.
We kept going on and on and since the GPS didnt prompt us for any change we kept our pace and went ahead in full speed…Suddenly the girl next to me said that she was wondering if there is a problem with the GPS coz it isnt progressing and its showing the same data since half an hour (the distance should keep decreasing as and when you proceed your travel).. WHAT!!! GPS work aagalaiyaa !!! Very nice.. One of the other guy (who could drive) asked me not to panic and keep going in the same route straight ahead and that he will check it out. So he took the GPS and tried a lot and then realized that its dead and it isnt working. Now they all panicked I guess (ennaku enna kavalai.. appadiye thirumbi vandha vazhiye poaga vendiyadhudhaan..) He was asking us to pull over to some store like Walmart or some place where he can buy a new one. Since we were on a free way and we didnt have any idea which place it was, we tried contacting the other car. The signal wasnt good and it kept failing. In between when we reached them, they asked us to get onto Hw 120.. and we had no idea where it really was. Whether we crossed it or we are yet to reach it. I was driving in 80 mph and we have driven almost 30-40 mins (imagine how far we would have gone) and then I decided that it is the best time to get to an exit wherever it was and find out some way out of this mess !! So took the next exit and went into a small town and sought out a place where we can park the car and check out the GPS or atleast find out where we were so that we can ask the other guys to come and then we can proceed. I stopped the car and the other guy got down to check the mobile connection to call the other guys in the other car and I was fiddling around with the GPS. Even before I could do anything to the GPS, there were 4-5 black guys who came from nowhere (it wasn’t too bright yet so we didnt see them coming) and asked if we had cigarettes. When we said that we didnt have one, they started talking rudely and used profane words which really scared the other guys , coz they were the ones getting it 🙂 and as soon as he got into the car he rushed me to get out of that place asap. I started off and then found another residential place , made sure that there is no one near by and asked everyone else to be inside the car just in case and then tried to reset the GPS and Voila!!! it worked. It sprang to life again and asked us to “fasten our seat belts”.. Girl !!! you gave us such a scare for a small time!! ..
Now following the route it was taking, we just followed it and since we were already far off the original route, it rerouted us to Hw 140 ( We were supposed to go via Hw 120). So we went through Merced, Mariposa county and then into Yosemite national park. On the way in the junction where the other guy (who can drive and who had already been to the park the previous week) asked us to stop and have breakfast, it was around 8 am now. We stopped @ Carrows and had our breakfast and filled our Petrol tank and started again. I drove and drove and drove…. Initially it was a very plain meadows, pista gardens and all that. We stopped in a place and took some snaps as they were too beautiful to ignore.
As and when it progressed, I realized that it will be a steep uphill.. Oh My God!! What have I got myself into. At times the uphill was very steep and very curvy. If only you could hear my heart thumping loud and fast and the amount of sweat my body generated.. oh God.. But the view was awesome.. It was almost empty and was a single lane road and I had just one truck before me which kept going ahead most of the time coz I slowed down during uphill a little and downhill a little and in the curves a little , ok ok,.. I was driving very slowly and had a couple of cars following me (they had no choice , did they ?). But the route is oh so beautiful. Just like what you see in the calendars and thought if such places really existed. Trust me , they do!!! They were part of the forest area and it was as if I was climbing up and down , up and down and after 2-3 hrs we entered the Park and to really go to the Valley it would take another hr. Now if I thought what I had driven till now was scarier, I didnt see this yet, that is why. This was much more deeper.. There was a time when I had to turn left and on the right there was nothing but adhala paadhaalam.. I was about to stop the car, get down and run, if I had the chance….But since I was the one driving and I cannot act like a coward before these people and above all, I was responsible for them, I was like “Come on, you can do this baby!!” I just have to keep my eyes on the road and not look left or right.. Thankfully the girl next to me was, atleast, as scared as I was. Is that a good thing or a bad thing, I dont know, but I felt comfortable comforting her.. eppadi.. But once I started going up, the view was so great and so nice, that you cannot help but look @ it.. Just dont peep down.. look straight ahead….:) it was like a bedsheet of mountains..It wasnt sunny or cloudy ..just plain weather .. infact in between we had little showers while driving uphill. Nothing like it. It was like 5 times bigger (in length , width and height) than Ooty and beautiful than Ooty… then image how it would be..and I drove there.. We stopped near the Bridalveil falls after crossing a tunnel, coz the view was so nice and took some snaps. It was almost the entrance of the valley where we were supposed to park and ride. And at around 11 am or so we reached our destination and parked the vehicle.
Where were the other set of people who were separated from us during the initial phase of our journey !! They were already there in the destination by 9 am and waited for us and then took a initial shuttle ride to a falls nearby. We checked with them and found out that they will be back by 12. So we decided to make a quickie to the Mirror Lake near by and be back by 1pm to join them. You park in the parking lots (almost 14 of them are there) and you take the free shuttles which take you around the park to drop you in the important locations and you can hike to the places of your interest. They will give you a map as soon as you enter the park initially (the entrance fees was 20$ for cars). We hiked for almost 30 mins to the Mirror Lake.. It was such a peaceful area even though enough people were there, it was calm. Big pine trees… (and there was bear somewhere nearby I guess.. they were hibernating) clean fresh air… beautiful tall mighty mountains.. clear sky…what else you want…and what else my camera wants.. it started clicking and clicking and the other guy (who can drive) wanted to try my SLR and so it was shuttling between him and me and we were just taking as much snaps as we could.
When we reached the mirror lake, we found that it didnt have enough water 😦 , its ok..It was beautiful anyways. How Mighty these mountains look from the ground..God…and they get frozen during the winters..
We spent some time there and started our way back , trying to take snaps of each and every road we see and tree with a different color. We reached by 1.10 pm or so and waited for them to join us. When they finally joined us, we had a good laugh on what happened in the morning. We had our lunch there and then decided to take the car back and go to the Glacier point. It was almost 3 by then. Since we had to return back the same day we decided to go to the Glacier point and get back coz it will be 6 pm by that time. Thankfully I wouldn’t have to drive now, the other guy took over coz I was already tired by driving for 7 hrs (4.45 am to 11 am) under very strenuous conditions. On the way we stopped @ El Capitan view point. God.. why is this place so beautiful 🙂 We took a group snap of ours and almost spend 1/2 an hour there.. You can just not get away from that place and without saying, I was the last person to get to the car!! I hate to come from that place !! 😦
When we reached the entrance of Glacier point, it said that we have to go uphills for another 16 miles or so. We stopped for a second to confirm with the other party and then decided to go ahead. Thank God we went ahead with the plan…It was too good to miss. Ultimate paa.. It had the very very very majestic view you can imagine… It literally takes your breadth away. It was almost 4.30 by the time we reached there. We were there till 6 pm. Too much.. evlo azhagaa irundhadhu theriyuma.. It was worth the drive there (I didnt drive naa!! 😉 )
This is just one of the photos from there. Imagine being there just close to the peaks and close to the clouds. You could see two falls there. Oh .. you should see it. A very very nice place. No wonder people come flocking to this place. And they maintain it so well. You dont see trash but enough trash bins everywhere placed strategically and restrooms in all accessible areas. A well maintained park. Then around 6.30 pm we started back and this time the other guy was driving and he was driving so well and keeping in pace with the other car and we were going through the Hw 120. Good Lord, I wasnt driving. a) It was becoming pitch dark very soon b) It was going in rounds for so long that after we hit the plain ground we had to stop the car as we were all feeling so dizzy, especially the drivers…Imagine what would have happened to me, if I had been driving…. I would have come back the next day only… avlo slowaa oati irupean. By the time we came to a city nearby it was 10 pm and we decided to have some snacks on the way (no one was hungry anyways). I was relaxing in the back seat. I was so so sleepy that I had a hard time keeping my eyes open. I didnt want to sleep when everyone was awake and we were having good fun. We reached home by 11 pm and we were so dead tired that everyone scrambled to their places to get their good night sleep.
Even though the trip started on a highly adventurous note, it ended up very peacefully. I was very happy and felt blessed that I could visit such places. Everything happens for the good. Never lose hope 🙂