THIS PLACE DOESN’T SEEM REAL. I’ve owned a Macbook for about 5 years now – I guess in some odd way – seeing the desktop background on my Mac has somehow manifested into actually visiting Yosemite. Time to change my background..where to next? Hehe.
Yosemite is a true beauty. Please put this place on your bucket list. 100% worth it. I think even in the worst weather conditions it will still incredible. (And does bad weather even exist in California? Isn’t it always sunny in California?)
My friend Beenish was going to Cali late April for a half marathon in Big Sur with another friend. Some things fell through and the other friend couldn’t go so I invited myself to join her if we made it into a camping California roadtrip. It was easily one of the most scenic weeks of 2017 (little did I know I’d be living in the Rocky mountains for the summer and then going to Tofino and Vietnam shortly after). But even after all that, it was still one of the most scenic weeks of 2017!
We also magically (not magically at all – with the lovely powers of a bottle of wine) convinced our other friend Amy to join us in Cali too! Woo woo peer pressure/pure pressure.
Trip Itinerary (9 days, 8 nights in Cali):
Friday – fly into San Jose early in the morning and pretty much head straight to SF via BART. Spend the day there.
Crashed at a friends place that night — CRASHED at a friends place* (we’ve been up, out and about since 4am or something fri morning, and as always with almost no sleep the night before due to normal vacation excitement).
Sat early afternoon – head back to San Jose airport and pick up our car rental. Upgraded from a sedan to a lovely weird copper coloured SUV.
Sat late afternoon – drive to Big Sur, pick up our run goodies and register, head to our Airbnb after getting some grocery store salad bar pasta (carb loading). Early night of rest in preparation for our run the next morning.
Sun morning – RUN/walk the coast of Carmel by the sea/Monterey area. First 5km “run” done! It was only 5km but I’m very proud of myself. It is my lifelong goal to love running. It hasn’t been achieved yet but I’ll keep you updated. I think it could be achieved quicker if I lived in California…
Sun afternoon – driving tour of Big Sur/Carmel/Monterey and then drive back to SJ airport to pick up an incredibly “tired” (severely hungover AF) Amy. Since our phones were on airplane mode the entire time anytime we got wifi that day we got panic messages from her fiance saying she wasn’t going to make her flight cause she hadn’t packed yet. Extra funny seeing these notifications pop up every few hours. She made it 😀
Sun night – dinner w Beenish’s fam in SJ and then another earlyish night and repacking all our camping stuff. Also had our LAST shower until ???? Also had a lot of delicious Italian leftovers to take with us the next day to eat in Yosemite!! WOOO 😀
Monday – drive to Yosemite – 4-mile hike to glacier point
Tuesday – YOSEMITE – backcountry camping adventure
Wednesday – YOSEMITE – makin’ our way down(town) + burgers + drive to Sequoia National Park
Thursday – Drive to Joshua Tree (stay tuned for the next blog)
Friday – Joshua Tree + Drive to LA LA LAND + the next time we got to shower
Saturday – LA LA LAND + LAX to home
Out of 8 nights in California, we camped for 4 of them. (two nights in Yosemite, one in Sequoia and one in Joshua tree). Checking a bag of all our camp stuff was cheaper than renting everything in California. We packed one tiny tent – just fit us 3 girls, a sleeping bag and a sleeping mat each. Minimal cooking equipment – tiny stove, a tiny pot and lid, stainless steel cup and a little frying pan, 3 sporks, a knife, water purifying tablets, and approximately 4L worth of water bottles. We ate a lot of oatmeal, hotdogs, granola bars and canned chili/stews. And a couple bags of weird dehydrated food.
It was extra sweet being in California late April/early May. Winter was still happening in Canada so to get +25 degree celcius weather and lots and lots of sunshine was such a great kick off to SUMMER. I almost want to say that this week was TOO active but it was so much fun it was completely worth it. We went to Yosemite shortly after snow started melting from the top. So a lot of our hiking trail options were unknown. We only reserved our wilderness permit for the second night but didn’t know where we were staying the first night or exactly where we would stay the second night. On our first day in Yosemite we hiked the 4-mile trail. We didn’t go to the very top because 1. it was closed off (still snowy/icy) and 2. we didn’t want to “push it” since the next day we were hiking UP with a ton of gear. The view we got at the top was one of my favourite views in Yosemite! That night we camped at Backpackers campground. This was a special campground reserved for campers that were doing a backcountry trek the next day.
Tuesday – Woke up, had a filling breakfast (oatmeal and black coffee) and got our gear on for a huge hike. I don’t remember much of this hike to be honest. I remember feeling overwhelmed with the never-ending steady incline from the first km and actually really worried I wouldn’t make it. (These feelings initially appeared within the first 30 minutes of our hike, and reappeared many times going forward…uh oh). No actually, these feelings first appeared the day before during the 4-mile hike. I didn’t even have a backpack on and I felt like I was struggling a little more than I should be.
There were many times during the hike where I felt like I might have to abort, but after awhile your body gets used to the large amounts of oxygen you need to inhale to get blood to your legs so they burn less etc etc. Idk the science exactly but it was HARD. I couldn’t think about how much longer we had. Literally had to take it one step at a time. Seeing signs of how far we’ve come and how much farther we have left was NOT helpful 😦 . It only felt better when the “how much farther we have left” became less than 1mile.
Eventually, we were at the base of a waterfall (distraction #1 which helped me to forget giving up). Going up the side of the waterfall was the steepest part of the hike I think. Or maybe it seemed that way because our senses were working at their maximum ability. First, our vision was impaired due to the constant waterfall rainstorm hitting us in the face. Second, we had to be extra cautious as the steps were so tiny and slippery. Third, we had to avoid the people that were walking down towards us while other people behind were trying to pass us you. A lot of multi-tasking and making sure you don’t injure yourself or fellow hikers. I don’t remember how long we were climbing steps but eventually, we made it to the top of the first waterfall. We all (3/3) enjoyed a snack (leftover chips and granola bars) and 1/3 of us enjoyed a quick nap. Then onwards up up up we went. After another hour or two we stopped again for lunch. Cooked up hotdogs and I so kindly offered one hotdog to one of the park rangers (which the other two were so mad about haha oops). Another hour or two of hiking and we made it to our campsite in Little Yosemite Valley. This is the campsite where you would start the hike up to Half Dome. The base of half dome is 3 miles away from this campsite.
To celebrate our insane accomplishment we had luke warm beer and A LOT of chili. It was so good. 2 cans of chili and a package of flavoured rice. Nom.
The next morning we had a filling breakfast (oatmeal and black coffee) and made our way down using a different route. Oh before hiking down we had to clean up and do dishes and stuff. For whatever reason, I thought I could figure out the way back to our campsite easy peasy so I told the other two to go first. I got lost in the forest for like 20-30 minutes. Omg. So scary. Everything looks the same in the wild. I have a little bit of common sense and somehow figured out my way back… eek.
Going downhill is a million times better than uphill. I enjoyed this day a lot more than the previous. The route we took down also led us to the top of the falls, where I stupidly sat so close to the edge. There was also a fun crossing we had to go past that was literally under a light waterfall. Got soaked but my shoes stayed dry phewf. Hate wet socks. The last part of the hike was that part that from the day before that made me want to almost give up. Never ending downhill slopes. We pretty much used gravity and momentum and ran down probably a km.
Once we got back to our car we changed, took off our hiking shoes and socks and went to the visitor center for BURGERS. After ordering I figured an ice cold beer would make this meal even better so I went back inside to grab a few beers. In line, the lady in front of me didn’t have her ID and they wouldn’t let her buy her alcohol. I asked her (standing in front of the cashier) if I could “buy it” for her and the cashier said sure. She ended up paying for my beers too! Woo 🙂
Cheers to our well deserved free ice cold beer after 3 days of crazy hiking.