(If you haven’t already, you should read the post before this one about camping in Tahoe!)
…and, we were off to Yosemite, driving through California on another incredibly hot day. We saw the car’s external temperature gauge get up to 118F at one point (that’s 48C!). Yes mom, we both slathered on the sunscreen for those times when we were driving with the top down! And I wore a hat – sunburned scalps are no fun. Everyone thinks you have a terrible dandruff problem when it starts to peel.
Anyway, here’s our route:
It was about a 4.5 hour drive by Google’s standards, but we took more like 6 hours with a stop for lunch and to gawk at the amazing scenery along the way.
After setting up camp, we asked the park ranger for advice on where to go for a swim. He suggested two places a short drive away – one called Rainbow Pool, which is a popular place with a waterfall and a cliff for leaping off of into the water – and a closer, much quieter creek where there almost certainly would not be any other people. We opted for the creek, since we were totally exhausted, and hadn’t showered in two days so wanted to use our biodegradable soap & shampoo for a quick “bath”. It was perfect and totally private, just like the ranger said. We visited this creek every day for a quiet swim.
The next day, we decided to do the Vernal Falls hike via the Mist Trail (click on link for more info). This hike is marked as a 3 mile hike with moderate difficulty on the trails map, and since we hike and cycle often, we thought it would be a piece of cake. Here’s us, still foolishly smiling at the very beginning of the hike:
Little did we know, the hike ends with a 1,000 foot climb on a treacherous slippery granite staircase (not pictured: 950 other stairs):
It was worth it, though:
From Vernal Falls, we continued hiking up to Emerald Pool at the top of the falls. Many people were swimming in Emerald Pool despite the No Swimming signs, but we didn’t have our suits, and I had seen a few too many “Lost Persons” signs of people who had been swept over waterfalls while swimming in Yosemite.
Here’s Nick on a bridge spanning Emerald Pool at the top of the falls:
We were out of water at this point and opted to turn back instead of continuing along the trail to the scarily majestic and huge Nevada Fall, a mere 1 mile and 800 feet of elevation away.
We arrived back at camp totally beat and sore from our hike, but also totally exhilarated at seeing such a beautiful waterfall and the amazing sights in Yosemite Valley. I felt that the s’mores we had after dinner that night were well-deserved!!
The next day was the 4th of July and the last day of our trip. We checked out of our campground early in the morning, and went to check off all of the easy and short “hikes” (I would actually call them walks) on the trail map that afford a pretty good overview of Yosemite’s sights.
First, on our drive into the Valley, we passed Big Meadow, and a beautiful view of a valley:
Next up was Bridalveil Fall:
Yosemite Falls (Nick wants hike to the top next time!):
This is Lost Arrow near the top of Upper Yosemite Fall:
And, of course, Half Dome:
Finally, the Valley from Tunnel View:
Nick and I also decided to hit Rainbow Pool, the waterfall pool with a jumping cliff that the ranger had told us about. The rock at the top right corner of this photo is the one that people were jumping off of. Nick jumped – I did not. I decided I would jump off the lower rock to the left of that high rock, but I chickened out at the last minute…and as I was trying to back off, slipped and ended up jumping off anyway!! You could also swim up to the waterfall and hang out behind it, which we did for a bit. It’s no wonder this place is so popular.
And, with that, we were off on our way back home! It had been so hot through the camping trip that at one point as we were about 3/4 of the way home, the temperature gauge in the car read 95F, and I actually had to put on a sweater. It’s amazing what you can get used to given enough time.
All in all, we had an amazing time camping and are planning to do it again as soon as we can. We even bought a year-long pass to Yosemite because we thought it was just so beautiful!