Friday, June 21, 2013

California Adventure – Part 3: Yosemite

This June, AJ and I had the opportunity to take our first trip together since before Kai was born so we decided to go big and do 2 weeks in California! We planned a jam-packed trip that would let us see nearly everything Cali has to offer - the road trip of a lifetime. If you missed it, you can check out Part 2: Orange County & Los Angeles here.


We departed Orange County for our first of two extra long driving days, about 10 hours. We did take an extended break for lunch at Red Robin and a visit to Target. After LA, we went through some mountains and then suddenly everything went flat and it became a rather boring drive until finally we hit the mountains again.

We stopped for dinner at the closest town to our hostel, not knowing if there would be anything closer. Our hostel surprised us, however. There was a great little dining hall with a little cafe/restaurant, lots of seating, a shelf full of games and, maybe best of all, free Wi-Fi. Our dorm itself was co-ed with 12 beds, air conditioning, 2 toilets and 2 showers. Not bad at all.

Early the next morning, we got up and headed deeper into the park. This was a spectacular drive.

Originally, we (AJ) had wanted to hike Half Dome - a 10-12 hour hike, ending in scaling a huge rock face. But it requires a permit and hundreds of people apply for a small number of permits each day. So we went into the village and decided to hike the 4-Mile trail, which is supposed to end in spectacular vistas of Half Dome and other mountains. We started the climb, up, up, up through a forest that could have been in Ontario. It was a tough climb and not all that interesting. We weren't sure we could do 6 hours of that just to see the sight at the end, so we went back down and chose the "Mist Trail" - a 4-5 hour hike that had lots to see all along the trail.

Like all of them, it was an uphill climb and it was tough. But we stopped when we needed to and saw some beautiful, smaller waterfalls along the way. The first break was at the bottom of Vernal Falls, a pretty bridge and lots of people. Many families take this trail and stop at this point. But we climbed on.

At the bottom of the falls
After a little while, it was time to really climb–over 600 stairs carved into the stone. Uneven and tough to climb, but there were fewer people here and the view... part way up we saw this:

then this...
Vernal Falls, Yosemite
That view and the mist refreshed us enough to get all the way up the wet stairs to the top of the falls where we stopped for lunch and a climbing break.

I did it!
View from the top
The way down was much easier...for me anyway. AJ had no trouble going up, but found it painful to his knees to go down. Whereas I had trouble catching my breath on my way up, but the way down was no problem. Opposites. We could have continued up to the next set of falls, another 1.5 miles away, which doesn't sound bad, but a mile uphill, I learned, is very different than a mile walk on flat land. We were not up for it.

Since we did a bit shorter hike, we were back down earlier than expected so we did another quick and much flatter hike to see Yosemite Falls.

Yosemite Falls

I think the cool thing about this park is that they've got something for everyone. There's a campground or a hotel, there's insane rock climbing and lengthy hikes and short flatter ones that are still amazing. I would definitely recommend it. I am also kind of glad we didn't get the Half Dome permits, I don't think I could have made it.

Next, follow us West to San Francisco and then down the coast.


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