Yosemite was just as beautiful as everyone promised. I have lots of photos. More than I am including here (and here I think I have a lot as it is). M and I enjoyed a restful though adventurous time in a beautiful national park.
I was a little worried about some of the logistics (eating, showering, etc) but my worries were unnecessary. M and I reserved a tent cabin at Curry Camp which was the most affordable option outside of camping on their grounds. And let me tell you these were plush accommodations! Plush! Free hot showers! Lots of food options (in a variety of price-ranges with the most expensive option at the Awahnee Hotel still being quite reasonable if you are from Los Angeles and used to paying through the nose for a really nice restaurant with really good food). Easy and free transportation around Yosemite Valley which is the starting point for most of the hikes. And no internet connection! Which (though disappointing for things like checking the results of the NFL draft or catching up on the Red Sox scores) I think overall was a good thing.
M and I hiked every day and enjoyed some quiet time in the evenings at Curry Camp's lodge reading, writing, knitting, drinking beers, eating chips and people watching. Our first day was a bit of a rough start with choosing a less than optimum hike for us. But we recovered from that quickly and planned better for the remainder of our stay. Day two was a hike to and around Mirror Lake (so lovely!) and day three watched us trudge through the hardest hike of our lives. Well, the hardest hike of my life at least. I think M's goldmine hike will stand as the hardest hike of his life (he'd better not top that one). The park literature stated that it was a 3.2 mile hike up to the top of Upper Yosemite Falls and that it took 6-7 hours to complete round trip. We were pretty confident that we could do this hike and a little foolish in thinking that we could complete it in half the time. But man, oh man was it worth it.
I was sort of hoping that we'd be in Yosemite during a quieter time of year (we're not so fond of the crowds) and I do think that we went before peak season, but it still felt dense with other bodies. I would be surprised if the park wasn't at capacity for visitors this weekend.
One thing I kept wishing was that our fellow visitors would just shut the hell up already. Um, I mean be a little quieter. I don't know. I sort of thought that in the presence of all the magnificent natural beauty, one might be awestruck into a reverent sort of quiet. But one can't account for drunken college students and high school field trip groups can one?
I was also surprised at how many French speaking visitors there were (more than other nationalities, I mean). I think they were all French, I'm not so good at picking out the Canadian French accents from lack of exposure. I did engage in a conversation with a German couple who were puzzling over the ingredients of a garden burger and what exactly was the difference between a plain hamburger and a hamburger combo. I was also asked to explain just exactly what a Philly cheese steak was and if it was recommended.
I'm really sore from all that hiking (especially that last one, the greatest hike of my life (TM)) and have loads of dirty laundry to wash up, oh and work. Yeah that thing. I guess I have to do some work as well. So enjoy the photos and let me know when ya'll are up for a group trip to Yosemite, cause we are definitely going back.
Even the drive to the park is lovely (about an hour away from our destination).
Pacific Dogwood. Not as pretty as their east coast cousins (in my humble opinion) but still lovely.
Day One Hike: Poor Planning.
Dusty and the trail was too close to the main road. This was one of the better parts. We'll know better for the next time we visit.
We followed the signs to El Capitan without realizing that it's more meant for rock climbers and not for us hikers.
Manzanita berries? This tree has the best colors: rich red trunk and branches, silvery green leaves and pink berries.
The river is so green.
The colors are fantastic. Like this bit of chartreuse moss. Who knew that such colors existed naturally?
From the Swinging Bridge.
I just can't stop being amazed by that waterfall.
Tired at the end of our first hike. We opted for the shuttle to drive us back to our tent.
Day Two Hike: Mirror Lake.
Is that snow off the trail?
Someone was having fun with a chain saw.
This one (someone has noted) is over 400 years old.
I was enchanted by all the moss covered rocks.
We took pause as a line of burros and ponies passed us on the trail.
In the time it took me to snap this photograph my toes froze.
Everyone seemed to be interested in taking this photo.
Including this gal who crossed over slippery rocks to shoot her pic.
As we looped the Mirror Lake hike, we stopped off at the stables for a bathroom break. These guys were tethered to a post.
Their friend has the saddest looking ears so I came over to talk to him and see if I could cheer him up.
Day Three Hike: The hardest hike of my like (TM).
From here (about half an hour into the hike) we were impressed at how high we'd climbed so quickly. Hah. Hubris, my friends, hubris was our downfall.
As we got closer to the falls we could feel the spray of water on us and the rushing sound was quite loud.
Postcard photo of the falls with Half Dome.
So impressed was I with our height that I zoomed my lens as far as it would go (12x) and took a photo of the teeny cars on the roads below. Still teeny. We must be up pretty freaking high. We rule.
But we kept climbing. Up lots of slippery steps like this one. They seemed to be never ending.
After lots of cursing and amazement, we reached the top. Sort of. And were amazed by how much it just looks like a forest floor. Note the snow. (I'm an Angeleno. Snow amazes me.)
After 4 hours of hiking, this was the best looking sign I'd ever seen in my life.
I was not prepared for the view. I think I was too tired. My blood sugar was a bit low and my legs were jello. So this part kind of freaked me out. I wasn't feeling terribly confident about my reflexes and general motor skills.
M disappeared over this stony walkway.
On the other side of it, you could see where the water rushes past.
And as it slips down the side of the mountain. (Just looking at these photos again is giving me the willies.)
But if you looked back up the river, there's a bridge. And I wanted to know what that was all about.
So we hiked over to it and looked out at the water tumbling over the cliffs.
But where is it coming from? I mean it's a lot of freaking water that falls down the side of that mountain. Is it a lake? How big is the lake?
Answers to be discovered in our next visit. Because by that time we were both dead tired and starting to get hungry so we had to head back. Unfortunately my knee kind of gave out on me and the descent took much longer than we'd anticipated (making the estimated time of the hike's round trip more accurate). Next time, we plan better and bring more snacks.