Friday, August 3, 2012

Yosemite National Park

On a last minute decision in October 2010 my husband and I decided to go to Yosemite National Park, which quickly became one of my favorite places. It's also where I learned to love hiking. Before our trip I honestly didn't know anything about Yosemite other than I heard of it and that I may be encounter a bear.  It is  absolutely beautiful and given the right setting tunnel view is breathtaking as shown in the picture below. We spent 4 days exploring and stumbled around in awe the entire time from Mariposa Grove to Yosemite Valley all the way to the top of Nevada Falls. Someday we will tackle Half dome!

We spent our first day exploring Mariposa Grove. We arrived and saw a group of people headed toward a trail and we thought we'd give it a try. We didn't really pay much attention to the initial map or how much water we had, but started off on our adventure. I had never hiked before and was pretty out of shape in general. We'd start climbing a hill and every person that came down I'd ask them "is it worth it?" Everyone every time would responds yes although I'm not sure what I would have done if they said no. Every time we reached the top I'd yell to my husband "it's beautiful and definitely worth it" and he would just laugh. We ended up looping back to the famous "California tree tunnel" and back to our car to find our heels covered in blisters.

We left Mariposa grove and headed to the valley. We were going to be staying at Housekeeping Camp. There was a sign for tunnel view and we thought we'd check it out, but when we exited the tunnel I saw the view and screamed "OMG! This is the prettiest thing I've ever seen, pull over, pull over, PULL OVER NOW!" I'm pretty sure my husband thought I'd lost my mind, but to this day I stand by my word and on that particular day tunnel view still is one of the prettiest things I've ever seen. We have seen it a few times during this visit and subsequent trips and it's never looked as beautiful as the first time. There's just something about the fog and mist that made it so spectacular. Our pictures can't even do it justice.

On our second and third day it rained on and off and it was pretty chilly which made exploring a little difficult. We drove up Tioga Road as far as we could before it was closed from snowfall. We biked around the valley, walked to Mirror Lake, explored the key tourist places in the valley like Bridalveil FallsHappy IslesLower Yosemite Falls and even went to a presentation on Yosemite history (we're nerds like that). We attempted to drive up to Glacier point, but the fog was so bad we turned around. Our second attempt to drive to Glacier point was successful and we stopped at multiple places along the way. Our views weren't very great because the fog was still pretty thick. Every now and then we'd be able to catch a small glimpse.

Our fourth and final day the rain was finally gone. We decided we were going to hike the famous Mist Trail to Vernal Falls. We taped our blistered heels, packed a lunch and grabbed some water. I was already tired and then we approached stairs that would take us to the top of Vernal falls. I found another out of shape friend and we tackled the stairs together while our husbands bounced up without any problems. There was a lot of encouragement, a lot of heavy breathing, a lot of are you kidding me and A LOT of stopping for a break, but we made it to the top. We celebrated, hugged and cheered before we sat down for lunch overlooking the falls. While we were eating we saw an unsupervised 10 year old climb over the fence and jump rocks at the top of the falls before his parents saw him. I don't think he realized how lucky he his he didn't slip and end up over the falls. After lunch I said goodbye to my new friend as she turned around and my husband convinced me to keep climbing to the top of Nevada falls. Surprisingly the 2nd part wasn't nearly as tiring. We looped back down via the John Muir trail. It started thundering and I got a 2nd wind so we jogged most of the trail back. I've come along way in my hiking abilities over the last few years, but that day was tough and long for my 2nd hike in my life and I was very out of shape. 

Tunnel view on a cool and misty October day
A waterway on Tioga Road after a fall rain
Yosemite Valley from the beach outside of Housekeeping Camp

Half Dome peaking through the trees

Sunset on our drive back west from Yosemite

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