We awoke to another glorious morning in Avila, and I go for a run in the warm morning breeze along the quayside. Arriving at the end of a working fishing pier to the north of the main town, I spot some seals lounging in the sun as fisherman start bringing in the first of the day’s catch. I haven't gone out in my trainers much during this trip, but I’m glad I went this morning - it’s really left me feeling good.
So much so in fact, that with the sun beating down on us and the waves lapping against the beach, Nick and I have a really tough decision to make. Today’s plan was to head back east, away from the coast and into the mountains of the Yosemite National Park. Normally, the mountains would be an instant draw for both of us, but I think the warmth and comfort of Avila is making it hard to focus on dragging our dirty hiking boots back on and heading off into the snow line.
But head off we do, because, you know, mountains. We make a quick stop just outside Avila for lottery tickets, petrol and burgers - the first one of those might seem odd but, in case it didn’t make the British newsfeeds, the Powerball Lottery in the US has been rolling over since November and is now sitting at a staggering $1.6 billion. Yes, you read that right - BILLION. So we thought it was worth a punt. The gas station we stop at is packed and everybody’s there for the same reason. The woman in the queue in front of me bought $60 dollars worth, so she’s in a much better position than Nick and I with our measly three lines. Oh well, you only need to get lucky once right?
Anyways, we move on back through the rolling green hills toward Yosemite. The rise towards the mountains is gradual, with shallow lumps becoming slightly less shallow lumps (I did say it was gradual) and then becoming more impressive hills. Eventually we’re making our way along a broad river valley and the hills are spikier and glazed with white - this finally gives way to the brilliant snow we last saw in Colorado and the mountains are clearly visible, even in the dimming evening sun.
It’s definitely colder here and we make a beeline towards one of the two hotels in the Yosemite Valley that are open at this time of year. The first we try is clearly out of our meagre price range, as it has guys to take your luggage and an actual red carpet - a quick investigation inside reveals a very nice hotel, although with definite overtones of the hotel from The Shining. Not exactly the ideal place to spend a snowy night, unless you like your bathroom doors with a hint of ax. We move swiftly on and manage to find space at the much more appropriate Yosemite Lodge, which is right at the foot of the trail we’d picked out for tomorrow’s adventure.
It’s been a long and relaxing day, so we’re happy to have an early night if it means we can attack the trail a little harder in the morning. I’ll let you know how we get on, and if we win the lottery… Maybe.