I’m gonna get this out the way right off the bat – I didn’t really take to the parts of California that we visited during our first foray into The Golden state. Firstly it was really expensive, especially fuel. Secondly, people are not as friendly, ok, they’re not rude, but they are not as friendly as they are in other parts of the US. Then the weather was crappy and the scenery was only nice. Normally I struggle to find superlatives when describing scenery – in California I struggled to justify them.
That might be a bit harsh, actually. It’s true for the northern Californian coast, but by the time you get to Lake Tahoe the landscape is once again spectacular, and by the time you get into the High Sierra Nevada its genuinely mind-blowing. But, as soon as I was starting to think California might not be so bad we visited Yosemite National park, and once again I was disappointed, stressed by all the tourists and I still can’t quite believe the proximity of our neighbours in the camp ground. Sure, Yosemite Valley is beautiful, particularly if you hike to Inspiration point. And standing under the mighty El Captain is a humbling experience, but I honestly believe, like I did in Yellowstone and a few other of the big ticket national parks, that you can get 90% of the beauty in areas nearby with 10% of the crowds, which for me is so much more enjoyable.
We did manage a backpack hike into the 20 Lakes basin in the High Sierra, which at 3200m tops the list of highest back pack camping and overall best hikes we’ve ever done. But when the wind collapsed our tent in the middle of the night, and the temperature dropped into low single digits in the morning I decided that, honestly, I could take or leave California. Preferably leave.
Maybe our second incursion into California after the Utah National Parks will be better….