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about the land and the people

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28/2015 image of the week: yosemite

July 12th, 2015 by nina · california, image of the week, usa

Upper Yosemite Falls, 2014
After a four hour hike uphill we have been rewarded with this view.
© by Nina Daum

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yosemite national park

July 27th, 2014 by nina · article, california, forest, nature, reportage, usa

on my second weekend at the bay we went on a trip to yosemite national park. i always wanted to see a national park. i haven’t imagined it to be that far because i always have a problem to convert miles to kilometers. but the trip was already really interesting. starting in berkeley we drove east and it is impressive how fast the landscape is changing. you drive like 1 hour and you seem to be at a total different landscape. we went from the green bay area to yosemite passing a bleak landscape, dried hills with wind turbins and cows, almond plantations, small villages and farms. the closer we got to yosemite the greener the landscape became. we drove on windy roads through forests and valleys, crossing rivers and hills until we finally entered the national park border where a nice park ranger gave us cards and informations. while driving into the valley we had an amazing view on one of the famous rocks in yosemite, the monolith el capitan. the native call it tu-tock-ah-nu-lah after one of their headmans.

day one
we wanted to hike the vernan and nevada falls on friday afternoon, so we parked our car near curry village and went to the trail. the way up was a bit crowded until we came to a little hut half way to vernan falls. a sign warned us that this was the last chance to get water. so we filled up our bottles and went on. since my travel guide said the john muir trail would be less crowded we chose that one. and the guide was right. we met just a hand full of people while climbing up hill.

since the hut the trail was a narrow sand path with rocky parts. the evening was near and we were about to turn around when a nice woman told us that it was not any higher from the point where we were and the highest point of the nevada fall would be just around the corner. so we hurried up and were rewarded with an amazing view over the woods and into the valley.

the sun was nearly downing when we hurried to get back to a paved road. at a interception point i recommended to take the shorter path not knowing what i got us into. while the sun was downing we went on slippery and wet rock-cut stairs next to vernan fall. it was gorgeous and terrifying at the same time.

the mist of the waterfall was wetting our clothes and hair. we had to take good care where we put our steps. we made it back to the paved road at the ground with the last trace of light. it was already dark when we came to the road to the parking area. while walking to our car a deer crossed the street, stopped and watched at us for a while before it disappeared into the forest. yosemite has definitively a nice way to welcome guests.

day two
we kept saturday for our big tour to the upper yosemite fall but when we woke up our muscles were so sore that we were not sure if we could make it. plus we didn’t know that it was the first day of the year that half dome (the other famous rock) opened for rock climbing. it took us nearly forever to get into the park. when we finally made it we decided to hike to the lower yosemite fall and then decide if we want to move on. the hike was challenging for us but for me the most.

i had a huge problem with the sheer ascent. my legs were burning like fire. on our way to the lower fall we met a lot of people with much better equipment. parts of the path were so rocky that a hiking pole would actually have helped. others were sandy and steep.

we arrived the lower fall on time for our lunch break. the lower fall was not as misty as the vernan fall on day one but we saw a double rainbow where the fall hit the rocks. after we ate i thought we would turn and go back down. my only wish was to rest my burning legs. but eugene encouraged holly and me to go on, so we did. it took us two hours to get to the lower fall and another two to the upper. i was cursing the whole time which is ok because they were the day before when we went down the slippery stairs while daylight was fading. but both times the reward was totally worth the endeavor. again we nearly gave up when a man passed us saying “you are nearly there, it’s about 10 minutes to go. you can make it!” with a cheery smile. it is really moving how total strangers we met on the trails were encouraging each other.

on top of the hill we went through a quit clearing and then we saw the view. every hurting part of my body was totally forgotten. the view and the knowing that you made it up here was just breathtaking.

we walked around the top, took a very terrifying way without a real handrail down to a little platform and enjoyed the view for a while. it was an amazing and fulfilling experience.

we finished the day with a little bonfire at a camp where holly’s friends camped down in the valley. we sat at the fire, eating marshmallows and listened to the sound of the forest and the camping ground. on our way back to the hotel we stopped to watch the millions of stars. the perfect end of a perfect day.

day three
on sunday no one of us got out of the bed easily. the sore muscles of day two turned into burning-like-hell legs.

after a long and quit breakfast we drove to the mariposa grove of giant sequoias. i read before that the grizzly giant is the biggest tree at mariposa grove. it has a surrounding of 29 meters (95 feet) and is 64 meters high (209 feet). it is 2700 years old and really impressive.

the grizzly giant was not the first sequoia i saw at the park but when you see him for the first time it is stunning, i have never before seen such a big tree. we stood in front of it for a while just speechless. we went on to see all the other trees. the faithful couple, the three graces, telescope tree and the fallen wawona tunnel tree.

i can not describe the feeling you have when you stand in front of a living being which is so much older than you can ever get, than you can even imagine. we left mariposa grove at 4 pm to watch the sunset at glacier point.

glacier point is a famous overview at yosemite where you can see the whole park and even the sierra nevada. after we arrived we realized how cold it is up on the hill. so we put on everything we had and walked down the small path. the overview at glacier point is amazing. every time i thought it can’t possibly get any better it always did.

at glacier point we looked at all the places we have been the last two days. i couldn’t believe that it has only been two days. it was an amazing adventure i will never forget. before we left we promised to come back and hike half dome.


this is what i learned at the weekend in yosemite:
hikers are really friendly beings who encourage each other because they know in which pain you are.
really old and really big trees make you feel so small and unimportant. what is a human life in the face of a 3000 year old tree that survived hundreds of fires?
there are millions of reasons to save the nature!
it is always good to have a beanie and a second jacket.
and most important…you are always, always capable to do more than you think you can. you can get to the top. you can make it!

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traveling pages: travel guide california

June 18th, 2014 by nina · books, california, review, san francisco, usa

traveling to california i had two travel guides. one for the southwest of the us with california and one for san francisco. before buying one i went to the bookshop and through a lot of travel guides for california, the bay area and san francisco. depending on what kind of traveler you are you can choose between travel guides for moneyed persons, backpackers, tourists and travelers. I chose the national geographic traveler for san francisco and the usa southwest with whole california by reise know-how. both have been very helpful.
since i stayed in berkeley i wanted a san francisco travel guide with more background informations and better maps than a whole california guide could give me. the national geographic guide has a lot of that. you find informations about the districts, historical backgrounds and portraits like the one of the beatniks. further there are some small day trip recommendations to napa, sonoma and others. if you only stay in the bay area i would warmly recommend this guide.
if you plan a road trip the usa southwest guide by reise know-how is a really good choice. it is with 24 euro a bit pricy (and also a bit heavy) but worth it. the reise know-how has all the informations you need. even if it is only a very packed version of everything you can do there is nothing missing. it gives you short informations, maps, recommendations and some suggestions for travel routes.
looking back i probably only needed the usa southwest guide because we did some trips on the weekends and i could have looked up the missing informations on the internet. i am impressed by the reise know-how travel guides. this one has been my second (i already had one for amsterdam) and it will not be my last. the guides are neat, organized and with an easy system. they give all the informations you need and are really compact. the only disadvantage that there is only a german version of it.

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big sur – music to my ears

June 14th, 2014 by nina · california, ocean, reportage, usa

big sur – what a magical name for a place. in spanish sur means south. so big sur sounded always like the big south to me, the magical place where the summer has its home.
on my last weekend in california my friends and i took a road trip down the coast to monterey, carmel and big sur.
we drove down the highway 1 to monterey and took the 17 mile drive to see the coast and the lone cypress.

the weather was rough and cloudy. it was a windy road and took us about an hour to see everything we wanted. while driving further on highway 1 to big sur passing the bixby bridge the sun broke through the clouds. this bridge was opened in 1932 and is with 98 meters/ 320 feet still one the worlds tallest single-span concrete bridges.
in big sur we just had one destination. pfeiffer beach. it is weird to drive 157 miles to see a beach. but it was so worth it.
pfeiffer beach is just magical. it was one of the windiest days during my stay and the sand got whipped around our legs, arms and faces but the sun was shining and the waves were beautiful. and my undefined feeling about the name big sur finally has a picture.
on our way back we pulled over to watch another monet-like sunset.
we stopped in carmel to find a place where we could eat but since it was saturday the restaurants were crowded by the well-off tourists who stayed in carmel. it looks like a friendly small town with lights in the trees and a lot of people on the streets.

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