On May 14th, James and I logged onto reserveamerica.com just before 7:00 am in order to secure a campsite for our September trip. We actually were not able to get our first choice campground, but Upper Pines worked out just fine. Five months later, we arrived in Yosemite after an early start on Friday morning. We arrived in the park around 11:00 am, and I was just completely amazed by the scenery. The first glimpse we had of the park was of Half Dome in the distance towering over the valley. We slowly made our way further into the park, passing El Capitan and its sheer, massive cliff face.
Then we arrived at Upper Pines Campground to check into our site (002). We set up camp, ate some lunch (crackers and salami) and then headed off to the Mist Trail to see one of the few waterfalls in Yosemite that runs year-round. We hiked on a well-paved concrete trail to Vernal Falls where there were swarms of people dressed in everything from hiking gear to khakis and polos. Once we got past Vernal Falls, the trail turned a little more rugged and the number of people thinned out. After another couple of miles, we reached the top of Nevada Falls and took in the amazing views including the back side of Half Dome. Fun fact about Half Dome– even though it looks like there was at one time a second half of Half Dome, it actually was formed the way it currently stands. We returned to our campsite to prepare some dinner and enjoy the warm weather! We hung out by the fire talking about internet security and “salting your hash” and of course we enjoyed some s’mores! While we were chatting, we heard a lot of commotion and a number of park rangers circled around with lights and noise-makers to scare off a bear that had wandered near the campground about a hundred yards from our campsite.
The next day, we had a hearty breakfast of eggs, sausage, and veggies before departing on the shuttle for Upper Yosemite Falls. We knew it would be a strenuous hike, and it didn’t disappoint. We were amazed at the lack of preparation from some of the people we passed. James and I were decked out with sunscreen and hats and about 5 liters of water, but we passed individuals with one small store-bought bottle of water and no sun protection. We also chatted with a family with 3 boys all under age 12 who were really having to power through the fatigue to make it to the top. They built a lot of character in those 6 hours so, James and I celebrated with them once they made it to the top! The way back down was a little easier, but I was very glad when we reached the bottom. The only thing that kept me going was the promise of ice cream at the end! An ice cream cookie sandwich never tasted so good! The remainder of the afternoon was spent relaxing and reading until we started the foil packs (which we ended up just cooking in the pot on the stove, but they still tasted amazing!). And of course, we had round two of s’mores over the fire!
On Sunday, we were pretty wiped out, so we checked out the visitor’s center and then decided to head back to the city. Overall, it was an amazing trip and one of my favorite places I have visited in my life. Next time, we’ll have to go back in the spring when the waterfalls are flowing!