Day 8: Death Valley and Benton Hot Springs
This morning we met in the hotel lobby at 7am to load up, prepared for a whole day in the van crossing Death Valley. Today was long!! We had 355 miles/571km to cover to our next campsite –Benton Hot Springs, located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Until reaching our destination we quite literally sweated across the desert because it was ridiculously hot, even in a van with AC! We stopped a few times en-route and while the desert is of course fascinating, it did after a point all look the same so stopping for pictures got a bit tiring.
The journey to Benton took about 11.5 hours so Lana did fantastically getting us there; she must have been knackered! The campsite, while it was beautiful, was basic –no showers, Wi-Fi or proper toilets -we had to use those horrible porta loos- but for one night, we got by. We set up the tents quickly and it was Team A’s turn to cook and they made us burgers which went down a treat. After dinner we all got into the hot tub (filled with natural hot spring water) and spent a couple of hours soaking as we chatted and gazed up at the stars –imagine the clearest night time sky you have even seen, then fill it with millions and millions of stars and you might get close to how it looked; it was incredibly beautiful and it’ll be a night and an experience I will never forget. Never.
Day 9: Yosemite
Today we made the trip to Yosemite National Park which from Benton, was a much shorter journey than yesterday and we didn’t have to leave as early. On arrival to the park, we stopped for a short hike (about 3 miles total) to see the famous sequoias trees which are huge! Yosemite is also home to bears so our eyes were peeled all the time hoping we might see one… we didn’t.
Over lunch Lana talked us the hiking options for our free day tomorrow and Kay and I jumped at doing the longest route that would take us most of the way around the park, taking in some incredible panoramic views and a couple of water falls. More on this tomorrow. In the evening after dinner, we girls went to the hotel next door to our campsite to use their indoor pool and Jacuzzi for some girlie time, which was fun. Afterwards we came back to the campfire and continued to sit and chat before heading to bed. Before this though and one of those camp moments I won’t forget, I had an incident with a praying mantis!
Basically, when we came back to camp, I noticed that there was a big praying mantis on the table on one of the cups. Now, while I would never harm any insect, spiders included, I don’t like the thought that they are near me and therefore always keep an eye on where it is, what it’s doing etc. to ensure it stays away if I don’t pluck up the courage to humanely move it myself. I have never actually seen a praying mantis before, or not in the wild anyway and I know nothing about them so while we were talking, I kept flashing my torch over to the table to make sure it was still there. For the first few times, it was still there and then suddenly, it wasn’t and I flashed my torch around to see if I could locate it but failed, it had gone. After a while I forgot about it until as we were talking I felt something tickle the back of my left arm and when I turned, there was the praying mantis, on the back of my chair, tickling my arm –I screamed. I’m sorry but I did and I leapt up from my seat. Fortunately one of the others were good to move it away from us but man, what are the chances huh!?! Hilarious.
Day 10: Hiking in Yosemite
Today was another incredible day! Kay and I were up early so Lana could drive us to the starting point to begin our hike and began the trail at about 7:45am. As mentioned yesterday, we had both opted enthusiastically to go for a proper long route that would take in much of Yosemite National Park so we ended up doing the Panorama Trail. To get to the trail though you have to first hike up a fairly sheer route aptly called the ‘four mile trail’ as it literally is four miles up a mountain which while quite tiring, the views were staggering.
The Panorama trail begins at Glacier Point which is at the top of the Four Mile Trail, and is about 8.5 miles in length before it integrates into the Mist and John Muir Trails down to Happy Isles. In all the route is about 15-16 miles and we finished the hike at about 15:15 so we did really well time wise. The only negative thing of the hike was the map (seen above, I drew on the red line) as it was so unclear where we were at certain points and we had no idea where the finish was so when we got to the finish, we felt it just suddenly stopped (not to say we weren’t mildly relieved). Before Lana took us back to the campsite I bought a pack of ciders from the Visitor Centre, and we all jumped straight in the pool before relaxing for the rest of the evening.
Tomorrow we head to San Francisco.
Until next time xFollow