On the 10th of August 2019 I was heading off to Manchester to begin my long journey to the USA, a what a journey it turned out to be. I wont lie to you, I had been in charge of organising everything so I was preparing for the worst, and to add to my anxiety quite, the weather was causing some serious delays but luckily, I managed to board the train on time… At least, that’s what I had thought! As the train pulled into Oxford Road, the conductor asked us to leave the train, 2 stops from where I needed to be and at this point it was cutting it fine with 2 hours to get through check in and security.
However, I managed to catch the plane and get comfortable for the next 11 hours. Literally was the worst experience ever, 11 hours in the same seat.
After a couple minor delays on board the Thomas Cook flight I arrived at San Francisco, and the flight overall was good. But this was where the good luck stopped, standing in the longest line in the world at customs I received an email informing me that my hotel room had been cancelled, seriously?! I immediately texted my friend that I was due to meet in arrivals and THANKFULLY she was able to get to the hotel and sort out the entire situation and I was free from customs a grand total of 5 hours later.
We stayed in the accommodation recommended by Trek America, it was expensive and not very nice but it done the job and saved us the hassle of travelling to the meeting point for the Trek as it was in the lobby. Also there was a nice American diner located at the bottom of the hotel. I wouldn’t chose to stay there personally.
I arrived a day before the Trek was due to begin and I would recommend doing this as it gave my friend and I a chance to explore San Francisco properly as you don’t get much time on the tour. We walked the Golden Gate Bridge, when we got there it was totally covered in fog, which was disheartening but by the time we walked to the other side and back again (around 4 miles) it had cleared up. We then headed into China Town for some dinner and back to the hotel for an early night before the next morning!!
Trek Day One
Starting the trek at 7:30am we met with all other campers in the lobby, there were 12 of us in total, 11 girls and 1 boy. It was a quiet start but everyone chatted and got along as we made our way to the Golden Gate Bridge. Making a quick stop there, walked to the other side and were met by our tour guide and I was glad because we didn’t have to walk back again, strongly advise wearing sun cream as I have some pretty shameful tan lines I have to admit. We then had a big drive to our campsite where we would spend the night near to Yosemite, we stopped a couple times along the way for food. The tour guide was great for accommodating stops and breaks, I never felt rushed or desperate for the toilet. That night the group cooked and cleaned at the campsite. The equipment was great, I expected old tents and dirty, old supplies but luckily we camped in brand new tents (we named ours Will Smith) with little mattresses which was a nice touch… much appreciated on that rocky ground!
Trek Day Two
We were all packed up and ready to rumble at 7am for our day at Yosemite. This tour is so fast paced, without the early mornings and late nights it would be so difficult to make the most of our experience, however, I don’t think that this took away anything from our trip. Mari, our leader, worked really hard with the timescale available and the group was able to get a lot out of the time that we had. Yosemite was beautiful, but I’ve done a few hikes, this was the hardest, it was incredibly steep and hot. When we reached the top of Nevada falls it all became worth it. What a view!
So glad that we done it together, we all supported each other to the top and by the time we got back down we had all bonded a lot better as a group. We left Yosemite at 3:30pm after our 6 hour hike and returned to the campsite for more cooking and a swim in the pool/river.
Trek Day Three
This day was the longest drive that we had on the trip and it was actually not so bad. We set off in the early hours and made stops in places like Death Valley and arrived around 5pm in Las Vegas, playing games, listening to tunes, chatting, sleeping all the way there. We stayed in an beautiful hotel called the Golden Nugget. I really did not expect this to be included in the price that we had paid so I was over the moon! (But don’t drink the water in the room it’s $4!). This night was epic, we had a private party bus through Vegas, stopping at the famous sign and at the Bellagio where we watched the stunning water show, honestly this night was my highlight of the trip, it doesn’t matter if you’re not 21 you need to experience it.
Trek Day Four
This was our free day, free to explore Las Vegas and do whatever you want. 7 out of the 12 of us decided to stick together and we had breakfast (massive pancakes) and then headed into Las Vegas to explore some of the most beautiful hotels in the world, and Trump Towers. We wandered around the hotels and MnM world from about 9am-4pm and then headed back to the Nugget for a dip in the shark tank pool! For dinner we went to an all you can eat buffet, which was immense and catered exceptionally well to my vegan friend, so trust me when I say that we got our money’s worth. After exploring Fremont street that night we went to bed to start the next day.
Trek Day Five
This day we mostly travelled again but I would like I said, the journeys were always enjoyable and totally worth it. We arrived in the Grand Canyon camp site where we were split in 2 groups. One group had paid to do a helicopter ride over the top of the Canyon, but I was in the other group that didn’t want to(*afford to) do it. Mari got us to put paper bags over our heads and walked us about 2 minutes to a location where when she told us to take the bags off, we had an amazing view of the canyon. It was worth being videoed and laughed at by strangers for walking around in paper bags because it was really cool to have it appear in front of you like that but I won’t lie, I was humiliated in public.
We had plenty time for photos and posing while we waited on the others and when they arrived we ate pizza on the edge of the canyon and watched the sunset… magnificent.
Trek Day Six
This day we were woken up early to go back to the canyon before it got too hot for a quick hike. We went down the Bright Angel Trail, and it may of only been 1.5 miles but it was like a freaking frying pan, don’t even get me started on the way back up, I could hardly breathe, I abandoned my friend Iona half way down, all friendship loyalties were lost and I’m glad because if I’d of went any further down, I’d still be there today trying to walk back up. Serious applause to you, Iona.
We then had a quick stop at the museum they have there before getting the shuttle back to camp.
We were off to Colorado River! We dragged our journey out as long as we could to avoid arriving in the heat. Done a bit of a supermarket shop and arrived at the Colorado River campsite at about 6pm. We were able to swim in the river and shower before a good old salad for tea. We slept without tents this night and it was beautiful… after we had to call the police to rescue 2 camp mates that had gotten swept out by the current in the river… everyone was okay though, bloody tourists.
Trek Day Seven
Last day of the trek was so sad! Everyone was so close by this point. Not one person had a bad trip, we were all so lucky to have had such an unforgettable experience and even though it was hard with all the travelling, we made the most of the time that we had. The last day was spent travelling to LA and had a stop at a tourist spot on Route 66 before we hit Venice Beach. It was so nice to chill by the beach with an ice cream before heading to the finish point. Our final destination was another hotel, which I was thankful of after 2 nights camping! You do have to book your own room for the meeting/finishing points so we had to say goodbye to the campers who were staying else where.
We opted again to stay in the recommended hotel as it was convenient with a free airport shuttle. It was expensive, however it was nice with a pool, free breakfast and WiFi. It may be worth a look about for cheaper though, and I would definitely stay the extra night as the campers that flew that day were a bit rushed.
I had to leave for my flight at about 4pm the day after the trip finished so I had all day really to explore LA. I’m really glad Iona suggested doing a bus tour as it meant we could start at 9am after breakfast and see lots of the city quickly. Starting at the Hollywood Walk of Fame, we got on the bus tour to Beverley Hills where we got off to use the bathrooms and explore a little. A highlight was definitely going to the Regent Beverley Wiltshire (Pretty Woman Hotel) and Rodeo Drive ‘baby’.
Getting back on the bus we finished back where we started and walked the Walk of Fame, looking out for my fave, The Rock Johnson… Got a snap of the Hollywood sign and then got an Uber back to the hotel for my free transfer to the airport. This was one of my favourite days despite not being with my team mates.
All in all, what an incredible week! It was quick but we done so much, it’s a great opportunity to see a big part of the world with a bunch of lovely other travellers. I would recommend this trip to everyone, 100%. Trek America Western Wonder from San Francisco.