In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. ~ Proverbs 3:6

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

California Road Trip Day 4 - Yosemite National Park

          I have to begin this post with an apology.   It’s not like met o begin a blog series and not finish it for several days.  A few weeks ago, I began posting about our recent California road trip. You can click on the following links to read those post: Planning Our California Road Trip; California Road Trip Day 1 - San Diego; California Road Trip Day 2 - LACalifornia Road Trip Day 3 Part 1 - LA; California Raod Trip Day 3 Part 2 YosemiteUnfortunately, I have been feeling under the weather lately and have spent many evenings after work in bed too tired to do much of anything….even too tired to write blog posts.  I went to the doctor last week though and have been feeling more like myself the past few nights.  I think all is well, so hopefully I can get this series finished this week.

            When I left off in my last post, I shared with you our adventures of getting lost at night in Yosemite.  What an unpleasant experience that was:/  The Yosemite experience overall, kept throwing curve balls our way.  Even from the early planning phases of the trip, Yosemite gave me the biggest headache out of all of our stops.  For one, the park is so big, that lodging is few and far between.  For that reason, lodging is also very expensive, and every place that I looked into required a two night minimum stay.  In fact most required a three to four night stay due to the fourth of July holiday.  All of these things combines made for hours of planning. 

            In the end, we decided to stay at Yosemite Lakes for two nights.  It was still pretty pricy, but it wasn’t nearly as expensive as some of the other places we looked at.  Despite all of the not-so-fun moments, Yosemite was my favorite part of the trip when I look back on it.

California Road Trip Day Four Itinerary

In preparation for day four, I had the following: an itinerary for the day, all maps of the park needed for the day, printed driving directions (in case our phones failed us), a sack lunch, water bottles and bug spray and a light back pack to carry said items.

6:00 a.m. - wake up and get ready

7:00 a.m. - eat breakfast

8:00 a.m. - drive to Yosemite Valley

9:30 a.m. - hike Lower Yosemite Falls

11:00 a.m. - hike Mirror Lake and eat lunch
1:00 p.m. - hike to the foot bridge of Vernal Falls
2:30 p.m. - hike Bridalveil Falls

300 p.m.. - drive back to yurt

4:00 p.m. - clean up for dinner 

 5:00 p.m. - cookout for dinner and enjoy a relaxing evening at the camp grounds
9:00 p.m - try to get a good night's sleep

A few pics of our day…..

In my last post, I shared with you our adventures of getting lost and told you that we finally made it to our yurt at Yosemite Lakes around midnight

What’s a yurt you ask?  This is a yurt.  It’s a large, round canvassed tent with an open floor concept and full amenities such as….

….a queen size bed….

….a functional living area, complete with a smallTV but no internet availability….

…..a kitchen with a refrigerator, microwave, sink and stove top….

….a bathroom with a shower, sink, toilet and closet.  The yurt also has an air conditioning unit and a furnace that provides heat.

I must say that sleeping in is difficult when staying in a yurt, because when the sun rises, this is what you wake up to no matter how late you plan on sleeping in.  After arriving to our camp ground so late in the night, we adjusted our itinerary the following day and planned on sleeping in....planned being the key word there. We were up by 6:00:(  It didn't help that we had very noisy neighbors with rude screaming kids playing outside early in the morning.  The yurts are not super close together, so that just goes to show you how loud these kids were.  I think that I would have enjoyed our stay at the yurt much more if the entire Yosemite experience had gone as we planned.  The fact that unexpected things kept happening to us made for a less enjoyable stay.  However, if I could do it over again, I would still book a yurt. 

Awakened with early morning light and noisy little kiddos, we woke up and started making breakfast.  Once I am awake I like light, so I asked my husband to go out and open the canvas on the windows to let more sunlight inside. Seeing that he was having some trouble, I walked out onto the deck to help him…..and that’s when we ran into another little dilemma on our Yosemite adventure.

Apparently, the yurt door locks automatically from the outside…and guess where our key was.  You guessed it….it was inside.  I wasn’t wearing shoes, so that left my husband to hike down the hill to the ranger station wearing nothing but flip flops and a pair of gym shorts.  Due to lack of sleep, we had a very human moment as we started take our frustration out on one another.  With no other choice, he hiked down to the ranger station, early morning bed head and all, to let the rangers know what had happened.  Moments later, the ranger truck pulled up to let me into the yurt.   Crying, tired and frustrated, I went back into the yurt and made breakfast.  I’m sure the ranger thought we were ridiculous.   First we got lost in the middle of nowhere and now we lock ourselves out of our yurt….yeah, they probably thought we were idiots.

Matt eventually hiked back up the hill, and we decided to start our day over.  We decided to not let frustrations make the worst of us, and to accept the things that were out of our control.  We made up, enjoyed our breakfast and continued on with our day, which included a visit to Yosemite Valley.

One of the perks of our campground was that it was about 15 miles from the west gate of Yosemite.  That’s about a 30 minute drive to entrance of the park.

It’s 30 minute drive from the entrance of the park to get to Yosemite Valley.  The drive to the valley is beautiful, and there are several places along the way to pull off of the road and snap a few shots of the scenery.

It was tempting to not pull over every chance we had, but we soon learned that we were never going to get to all of the things we had planned if we didn’t continue driving towards the valley.

The visitor center was at stop 5, so from there we took the shuttle to stop 6, Lower Yosemite Falls and began our hike from there.  The hike to the lower falls was an easy one.  It was pretty flat with a clear path.  The total distance was round trip.

Once we arrived to the falls, we took our shoes off and cooled off in the water at the foot of the falls, while leaning back on a giant rock to enjoy the beauty before us:)

After our hike, we walked back to stop 6 and waited for a shuttle.  If I have one complaint about Yosemite it would be the shuttle system.  We waited for what seemed like forever for a shuttle to come by and pick us up. It didn't help that only certain shuttles went around to all of the stops.  Some were express shuttles and skipped certain stops.  The shuttles weren't marked correctly, so it was confusing to figure out which ones were what.  The shuttle itself was always packed with visitors, so if you don’t like tight spaces, the shuttle is not for you.  It could have been because we were visiting at a very busy time of year, but from my experience, I think that there is room for improvement when it comes to the shuttle system.

Once the shuttle finally did come and pick us up, we waited for our next stop, Mirror Lake, stop 17.  The hike to Mirror Lake is an easy walking 2 mile round trip hike.  It is accessible to bikes for about half of the hike.  Mirror Lake itself was somewhat deceitful.  Matt and I actually passed by it the first time and didn’t even realize it.  In the picture it looks huge, but it was really just a small pond of water that mirrors a beautiful reflection of the mountain and makes the lake look larger than what it really is.  I know this picture is gorgeous, but this was Matt’s least favorite part of the day, only because it wasn’t what he thought it was going to be.  Although, when I look at this picture, I can't help but see God's beauty.

 The Mirror Lake trail is lined with several shallow, sandy “beaches” to and from Mirror Lake, where families picnic and swim.

We didn’t pack our swim suits, but we couldn’t help but splash around in the shallow water.

We couldn’t resist it with a view like this:)

Our next stop was Happy Isles, stop 16 for the shuttle.  The hike to Vernal Falls began at Happy Isle.  We weren’t sure if we were going to have time for this hike, so we didn’t stop here before Mirror Lake.  Since the shuttle only goes in numerical order and Happy Isles is before Mirror Lake, we chose to not take the shuttle and follow a one mile trail in between Mirror Lake and Happy Isle.

The trail wasn’t hard and was much more beautiful than the stuffy shuttle.  Despite the beauty that we saw on the trail, we also discovered that we were walking near the stable.  It didn’t take long before we realized that the horses must use the trail we were hiking.  All I can say is that we had to be VERY careful where we walked, because the sign and smell of horses was all around us;)

When we arrived at the start of the Vernal Falls hike we were excited, because we had heard that Vernal Falls was didn’t take me long to wish that we didn’t go on this hike:(  This hike was not easy!  It wasn’t a long hike, only a little over two miles round trip.  It was however, a very vertical hike!  We were told that the hike to the footbridge was 90 minutes round trip, which I thought was kind of bazaar because it was only a two mile hike.  Ummmm….I soon figured out why this hike took so long.....can we say up hill the entire time!!!  Oh my legs hurt just thinking about it!  I had to stop several times along the way to catch my breath and I wasn’t the only one:)

We did see lots of these little guys along the way, which was kind of cool.

But back to the not so fun part of the hike…so we get to the footbridge of Vernal Falls, which was the farthest we had planned on going, and the view wasn’t even that fabulous.  In fact, you could barely see the falls from the bridge.  Do you see it back there in this picture?  Squint and maybe you can find it. 

The hike to the top of the falls and back is really an all day event. If you hike past the footbridge, you still have to hike up a rediculous amount of sstone stairs to get to the top of the falls.  We didn’t have time for that, but even if we did, I’m not so sure that we would have hiked it. 

After taking a few moments to rest….

….we made our way back down the steep trail.  I personally thought up was way worse than down, but my husband said that down killed his shins. 

When we arrived back to stop 16, we took the shuttle back to our parking lot at stop 5 and drove to Bridalveil Falls.  The shuttle doesn’t go to all of the hikes.  Some of them are only accessible by car.  We actually passed the entrance to Bridalveil when we were driving into Yosemite Valley.  We didn’t realize that until afterwards, so we made a point to go to it before leaving the valley.  This hike was the easiest of all the hikes that we did.  It was maybe a five to ten minute walk from the parking lot to the view point of the falls, and we actually thought it was the prettiest of all of the falls.

After Bridalveil Falls, we began our one hour drive up to Glacier Point.

On the way to Glacier Point, there was a phenomenal view point.  I’m not sure what it’s called, but it’s right before you drive through a tunnel.  If you ever go, you won’t miss it, because it is packed with people and their cameras.

The drive up to Glacier Point was curvy and at times a little scary.  I’m glad I wasn’t driving.  It was neat to see how the trees changed as we drove up…and up….and up.

The trees weren’t the only thing that changed as we drove up.  The animals changed too as we drove into colder temperatures.  There was twenty degree difference in temperature from the valley to the top of Glacier Point.

Just before getting to Glacier Point, we stopped at another phenomenal view point and wondered how the views could get any better…..

….but then….we arrived to our destination!  Glacier Point! 

…. and oh yes, the views did get better! 

Pictures can not do justice to what we saw that night!  It was breathtakingly beautiful, and after all of the problems that we ran into in Yosemite, this moment made up for it all!  When I look back at our California road trip, Yosemite was my favorite stop!

Before the sun set, we drove an hour back down to the valley and then another hour back to our campgrounds.  By 9:00 we arrived back to our yurt and were ready for dinner.  I had planned on grilling hot dogs outside on teh deck, but when we realized we didn’t have a propane tank for the grill, we were thankful for the microwave.  We finished the night off with hot chocolate and called  it a night…..
 well, we called it a night after fighting off giant spiders in our yurt!  Yep, spiders…big black ones:/  Come on now, you really couldn’t expect the rest of this part of our trip to go perfect could you?  I'm all aout nature, but that was a bit much for me.  You see the previous night, our yurt was freezing when we came in, because the air conditioner was blasting.  Trying to prevent this, my husband turned the air off before we left on our hikes that morning.  When we arrived back to our yurt, we found a very, very warm  and stuffy yurt.  All we could figure was that since it was getting really cool outside, the spiders were drawn to the warmth of our yurt.  We killed four spiders before eating our dinner, and just as we were getting ready to go to bed, I looked up and saw one on the ceiling!  It seriously freaked me out!!!  To help me get a more restful night's sleep, I sprayed every inch of our wall and floor with bug spray:/  I would have rather smelt bug spray than dreampt about giant black spiders eating me in my sleep!  Needless to say, I didn’t get a very restful night’s sleep:/

No comments:

Post a Comment