As a kid who grew up in California, we camped in Yosemite a bit. It was a favorite adventure of my brothers and me. We could play in the woods, raft in the mighty Merced River, roast marshmallows on the fire, and just enjoy being outdoors exploring. When thinking of what I wanted to do in my 40th year, camping in Yosemite had to be on this list! Julie’s request, to see the giant trees.
We began planning for this trip very early on, since there was a lot of coordinating that needed to be done. We decided we wanted to stay in the Yosemite Valley so we could walk or shuttle to anywhere we wanted to go. We were lucky enough to get sites at the Housekeeping Camp which is pretty much tent camping with a bed. Each three walled unit comes with electricity, a double bed, a bunk bed, a storage shelf, table, and bear proof storage box. I was pleasantly surprised to find you don’t have to bring to many supplies with you. You can rent pretty much anything needed from the camp store.
We left Lake Tahoe, a story for another day, early to get to Mariposa Grove to see the giant sequoias. We were lucky enough to get a parking spot at the main lot to take the shuttle to the newly opened/renovated grove trail. We walked the loop at Mariposa Grove and were able to see plenty of large trees, most notably the Grizzly Giant.
We arrived at the housekeeping camp about 3:30 on Sunday afternoon where we met my Dad, Uncle Tony, Aunt Renee, Aunt Kandy, and my cousin Tiffani. We set up camp, the kids played in the river and later we enjoyed the campfire and a gourmet camp dinner. We discussed what we wanted our hike to be for the next day. We were going to conquer hiking to the top of Nevada Falls via the Mist Trail.
The hike is supposed to be 5.4 miles round trip, much to the relief of Julie and Olivia who were still recovering from the 9.8 miles we hiked at Old Rag. We started the hike at Happy Isles at 8:00 am, with Julie promising not to cry this time, and worked our way up the beautiful Mist Trail. The trail runs along the Merced River and is paved the first 1.5 miles or so. It was a steep and tough on the legs. Little did we know the challenge ahead was going to be much greater. We got to the Vernal Falls footbridge and the beauty of it took our breath away. We continued up the Mist Trail where we were cooled by the mist coming off Vernal Falls. The steps were steep and slippery but once we go to the top it was well worth it. We spent some time at the top eating a snack and exploring. It was time to move on to Nevada Falls, this was a bit more of a challenge.
About ten minutes into the hike to Nevada Falls, Julie decided she wanted to end the friendship. Math in public is dangerous and apparently not something I am good at! Julie had realized by the time we would get to the top of Nevada Falls, we would be at about 4.5 miles into said 5.4-mile round trip hike. At this point, the sun was blazing, and the switch backs were so steep that you had to use your hands on some portions, and the drop off was super scary. I had to worry about myself, talk Julie off the “ledge” of hating me, and convince my youngest daughter Olivia that this really is fun! We finally make it to the top and the view was absolutely breathtaking. Dipping our toes in the water while enjoying a snack and re-hydrating was so worth it. It was an awesome hike even though I know a few people wanted to push me off the “ledge” while hiking. (Julie here…by the way the 5.4-mile hike was actually 8.4 miles and I am not sure if it’s her math skills or map skills I should start to question since this is the second time she has led me astray. I didn’t cry, in case you were wondering. But, I did need to stop every couple switch backs because the air was thin and it was pretty strenuous. I agree the view and sense of accomplishment was worth it, although I am not sure Olivia would say the same.)
We spent the second day exploring the valley – we visited Lower Yosemite Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, watched some rock climbers conquer El Capitan through a telescope people had set up, and visited the historic Awahnee Hotel. We swam in the Merced, enjoyed the great company, and especially the camping culinary skills of Aunt Kandy.
We left around 8:00 am on Wednesday, headed for Bodie Ghost Town, leaving through Tioga Pass, which was a whole other adventure. Talk about a nerve wracking drive. I plan on applying for Half Dome permits each year. If I get one, I will go back and check that goal off my bucket list. And really, Julie must not be too scarred because she said she was willing to consider coming back to conquer Half Dome too.