After a pretty devastating laptop crash immediately following my birthday, I am happy to announce that all of my photos have been recovered and that I can finally share some beautiful Yosemite pictures with you all!
On September 10th, I entered my “late-twenties,” I guess you can say. I turned 27! That whole saying “age is just a number,” feels really accurate these days as I’m constantly forgetting how old I actually am, ha! Nonetheless, I’ve never been one to lament about birthdays…I look at them as another year wiser; another trip around the sun! And man, if I didn’t ring in this next year of life in one of the best ways …
I got to spend my entire birthday weekend in Yosemite National Park with my best friend; my husband. And not only did I get to spend the whole weekend there, I got to camp there. Spending time away in the mountains, huddled in a tent or around a campfire with my husband — that’s my favorite thing in the world. I couldn’t ask for anything more.
^^the morning of my birthday, Al woke me up early and we drove towards Tioga Pass to exit through the Eastern Entrance of the park (which I 1,000% recommend). On the way, he pulled over and we sat on these big tree stumps and made coffee while I read a beautifully written card from him. It’s these kind of small actions that make me fall in love with this man more and more everyday.^^
We ended up camping at the Wawona Campground near the Southern Entrance of the park. The great thing about campsites in the park is that they all come with a fire pit, a big metal Bear Canister to keep all of your food + aromatic belongings in, and bathrooms with running water! Al and I had to laugh because after backpacking a couple of times in the last year, this felt a whole lot like “glamping” to us…it’s funny how your perspective can change 😉 The pros to glamping, or “car camping,” though: you can pack all the delicious food you want, you can bring extra blankets and chairs and stoves, and you don’t have to skimp on how many clothes you pack. We packed a big cooler beforehand with sausages and burgers and veggies and sandwiches so we didn’t have to buy any food all weekend long! It was so nice knowing we had big meals waiting back at our campsite for us. If you’re planning on staying in the park, be aware that you must buy your firewood in the park, as they don’t want you bringing in any types of bugs, plant life, or diseases from somewhere else.
^^we keep all of our camping equipment in two large bins in our garage…it makes picking up and going a whole heck of a lot easier when you just have to throw those into the back of the car…and they fit really well in the provided bear canisters.^^^^a jet broiler is a must if you’re backpacking and don’t always have access to a fire … I mean I don’t think anyone wants to see me without my coffee in the morning 😉 ^^^^before we left for our trip, we chopped up a bunch of veggies, seasoned with salt and pepper, and stored them in a ziplock baggie…when it was time to cook them up we just wrapped them in some tinfoil and threw them directly into the fire…wa-la!^^
As far as hiking over the weekend went, we initially put our names into the lottery for Half Dome but weren’t lucky enough this time around. So as our backup plan, we had mapped out a hike that was about a 16-mile route that would take us past all of the must-see sites of the Valley. Unfortunately, I woke up that morning with one of the worst head-colds I’ve ever experienced! That, combined with the constant changes in elevation, we knew that a long trek wouldn’t be in my best interest, and so we spent most of the day doing pretty short hikes, driving around the entirety of the park, and napping in the car 😉 For as bummed as I was that my first time spending any significant time in the park was being ruined by a head cold, Alex kept reassuring me that we would be back a million more times to conquer alllllll of the hikes. Yosemite, after all, is his favorite place in the world. And even though we didn’t get to do as much hiking as I had hoped, we had such a nice weekend away together. One of my very favorite moments of the trip actually, was sitting down to coffee in one of the Yosemite Valley cafeterias. We sat up on the top floor, by a window in the trees, and just talked and talked and talked. There’s something to be said about not having any cell service 😉 One of the things I think Al and I do best is: we always make loose plans for our adventures. That way, if the wind takes us somewhere else, or if the conversation keeps us in a spot we didn’t even intend to be in in the first place, we haven’t lost out on anything. We’ve only gained a little more appreciation for the unexpected…
Anyway, please enjoy some photos that I took of our time in the park! I am once again feeling so lucky and appreciative of where we live, as Yosemite was only about a 5 hour drive for us, making it an extremely easy destination to come back to throughout the year! We’re also Annual National Park Pass Holders now, so it gives us even more reason to pop in on a long weekend! 😉 Happy exploring, friends!
^^we did a nice easy hike up to Taft Point on our first day in the park and came across these crazy slack liners! I swear I could have sat there all morning and watched them walk themselves back and forth from cliff edge to cliff edge…^^
^^Taft Point Trail is a great first-day hike to get yourself acclimated to changing altitudes. It forks off into a few different trails, including Inspiration Point, but our favorite was this breathtaking view of El Capitan. El Cap is that smooth rock face above; Alex Honnold currently holds the world record for free climbing that thing in under two hours. Free climbing means no gear, no nothing! There’s a movie in theaters right now called Free Solo all about this! If you’re interested in learning more about the history of climbing, particularly in Yosemite, check out Valley Uprising on Netflix…it’s one of our favorites!^^
^^We took some time to check out the least-visited area of the park as well: Hetch Hetchy. At first glance, you might look at Hetch Hetchy and find it to be pretty beautiful, but I couldn’t help but to feel pretty depressed during this leg of the trip. There’s some real history here. Hetch Hetchy used to be a Valley, located in the northwestern part of the park, that was compared to that of the beautiful Yosemite Valley, and heavily regarded by John Muir. But in the early 1920s, the decision was made to construct a dam and flood the valley in order to provide water and electricity to the city of San Francisco. This was a huge controversy because it was the first and only time that land in a protected National Park was being compromised. It’s especially gut-wrenching (to me, at least) because there were many other viable options that ultimately were ignored. Today, people are still fighting for Hetch Hetchy. The Dam will be up for repairs soon, and activists are fighting to just let the Dam go and let the Valley restore itself. Seeing as how Yosemite Valley is the most popular area of the Park, it’s so sad to see this area — which was once comparable to Yosemite Valley — more or less, unvisited by most of the people who visit the Park each year. While walking around, I couldn’t help but think of all the wildlife that lost its habitat to mankind; it was a really eye-opening and emotional experience for me.^^
^^Since we didn’t get Half Dome Permits, and since I was feeling under the weather, we opted to hike the first little bit of the Mist Trail up to Vernal Falls. Not only is this the beginning of the Half Dome hike, but it’s also the start of the John Muir Trail — a 210 mile trail through the Sierra Nevadas. While on this hike, Al and I talked about how completing the trail is one of his dreams, and we started planning out how to make that happen! Although I don’t think I’ll accompany him on that one, I told him I’d be there at the start and at the end, and that’d I’d send him lots of care packages along the way! 😉 Most people can complete the hike in two weeks if they can keep up high milage each day…^^
^^Since we hit the Park in more or less, the “off season,” waterfalls weren’t flowing too heavily. But on the other end of things, the Park wasn’t nearly as crowded either!^^
^^This is the view of Half Dome from Glacier Point which you can get to from a variety of trails, maybe most-challenging via Four Mile Trail, which *spoiler alert* is actually longer than four miles! If you don’t feel like hiking for the view, there is an access road in which you can drive. We caught it right before sunset, and if you look really realllyyyy closely, you can see hikers trekking up the dome! I couldn’t help but imagine how amazing it will be to someday make that journey myself!^^
^^Tioga Pass is another area of the park that is often overlooked, but in my opinion, has some of the most beautiful views and landscapes! Some other areas of the park were closed due to the wildfires that had occurred earlier in the year, so we got to spend a little extra time making our way through Tioga. There is actually an amazing campground at Tioga Pass Lake right before the Park’s Eastern Entrance, that I think we’ll stay at next time…it’s right on the water, and Al and I both agreed that this is the area of the Park that we want to explore more thoroughly next time!^^
^^We called this our “Secret Beach,” mostly because there was not a single soul around!^^
I don’t think I could have imagined spending my 27th birthday any. other way, which has me thinking that I should spend all my future birthdays in the beautiful outdoors 😉 Thanks for following along, guys! If any of you have questions about the Park, feel free to ask! I’d love to chat about it with you!