With not much time to spare, we said a brief “goodbye” to the city of San Francisco and slowly rolled towards the Yosemite National Park. We thought that if we leave the city early enough, we will be out of the urban area by the evening. Wrong. We saw our first forest after 2 stressful days of pedaling across endless industrial areas and small, densely populated suburbias or towns of various sizes. Guided by Google Maps and our own noses we finally managed to put up our tent under a tree – a eucalyptus to be precise. Could there be a smoother transition after months spent in Australia?

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June in California is a rather rainless month. We cycled through bone-dry landscapes of grass-covered hills, almond plantations and tiny villages. It was hot.

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Our first days in the US were full of surprises. It is a nice feeling to discover a new country, with all its oddities and stereotypical features.

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Famous American national parks were waiting for us. For an equivalent of 80 dollars we got the annual access to all of them. The only problem was which one to choose!

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The first one on our list was Yosemite NP, famous of its barren, hundred-meter-high lime walls, ancient pines and spruces as well as breathtaking waterfalls.

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Such special places are always magnets for tourists. It was not easy to be left alone, to have it all to ourselves. But since it was not our first national park, we managed to find less beaten paths and enjoy the power of nature.

From all the mammals inhabiting Yosemite NP, we only sighted the cute ones.

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We continued cycling through the park (it turned out to be much bigger than we thought) and found ourselves surrounded by naked-rock peaks and deep coniferous forests.

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We followed the rules (this time) and stayed at the official campsite. To be honest, the only reason why we decided to do so, was the presence of black bears in the area. They sneak into the campsite attracted by the smell of food. Special steel lockers are provided by the staff, and all edible products, cosmetics and even toothpaste must be stored in them overnight to keep the furry visitors away.

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Snow covered peaks, pristine mountain lakes – so different from the dry paddocks we cycled through just 2 days before.

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We have not been cycling on high(ish) altitude since Indonesia, so it was nice to feel a bit of a buzz and a pleasant shortness of breath once again. We love mountains!

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We left the park and rolled down on a smooth and super steep road, where Mat broke his personal downhill record – 81km/h! There is no better feeling than zipping down along the majestic peaks on a loaded bike, being faster than cars.

We wished we could spend a bit more time in Yosemite, do a bit of hiking, maybe climb a peak or two, but there was so much more to see…

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