We left Palo Alto and headed towards Yosemite National Park, really excited to see this park that had been on our wish list for quite some time. We stopped short of the park to get our supplies and to fix a couple of things that needed fixing (constant adjustments!) and stayed a couple of nights at the Vista Ranch and Cellars, an amazing Harvest Host spot outside of Merced in a little blip of a town called Tuttle. (If you aren't familiar with Harvest Host, they are a membership network of wineries, farms, museums and such that have space for RV'ers to overnight in exchange for, as an example, a wine purchase or admission to a museum. We LOVE being members and have had nothing but great experiences with Harvest Hosts!)
|Gracie, enjoying the quiet at Vista Ranch|
We left Gracie behind and drove up and into the park on Saturday (crowds!) to check things out and figure out a place to stay and we came across a small, private campground about 8 miles from the park entrance that seemed like a good choice for us, so we made reservations and returned the next day to set up camp.
We spent the next week hiking and exploring this incredible park, figuring out very quickly that this is one park we will revisit again and again. It's incredible!
In summary, we hiked the Mist Trail up to Vernal Falls and beyond towards Nevada Falls, up the John Muir Trail to Clark Point and then back down to the valley floor...highly recommend! Be prepared for steep inclines and plenty of work for your quads, especially on the 600 plus rock steps leading up to the falls! Bring snacks and hang out at the view point, it's really beautiful!
We also hiked out to and past Mirror Lake, which wasn't much more than a pond this time of year, but a really nice trail and not incredibly busy. And we hiked over to the base of El Capitan because I became completely enamoured with this 7500 foot monolith, with it's tallest face being 3000 feet of vertical rock (with a beautiful heart etched into it!), so much so that I just wanted to touch it! Several of our evenings we ended up at Tunnel View, easy to get to from the valley floor and an amazing viewpoint! And twice we went to Glacier Point, where Half Dome practically reaches out to beckon you!
You really can't go wrong in this park...just put on your boots and hike it! Whether it's the valley floor loop, with stops along the way (to Lower Yosemite Falls, for example) or more ambitious inclines (Half Dome is now on my list, which would include some mountaineering and challenge any fear of heights)...you can't go wrong in this park. Even with the crowds we encountered in this shoulder season, once you get on a trail you can easily find yourself alone in the wilderness.
(A note...if you are interested in Yosemite, or climbing, or history or adventure stories...watch Valley Uprising on Netflix! It's sooo good! And it'll make you a fan of this park and the sport of climbing!)
We celebrated Thanksgiving while here in Yosemite...with a mini-Thanksgiving spread including baked ham and garlic red potatoes (that I cooked in Gracie!)...and we feel especially grateful, for our ability to do these adventures and see this incredible country!
From Yosemite we headed south, towards Death Valley...with a few stops along the way.
|Glacier Point, that's Half Dome beckoning me!|
|Another look at Tunnel View|
|Moody Half Dome, Ansel Adams style.|
|Not a drone shot, just me, hanging over a ledge!|
|Vernal, from the top down!|
|For perspective...see the little ant people!|
|You could sit here all day and watch the light change...|
|Merced Grove, a Sequoia Grove off of Hwy 120, Northwest of the valley|
|On the way to Clark Point, a view back at Vernal Falls|
|Love the backdrop of rock!|
|The textures of Half Dome|
|Half Dome from below, lit up in the evening sky|
|Mike loved this view of Half Dome|
|Until next time...|