YOSEMITE: PART I

A few weeks ago, Mike and I quickly planned a trip out of town to Yosemite when we realized we both had a weekend off together.  Neither of us had ever been, so we successfully checked off an item on our California bucket list.  It really was a whirlwind trip... nowhere near long enough.  Friday night we left the bay area after work (Mike ate a falafel hut sandwich faster than I thought humanly possible).  We made it to Jamestown, CA, closing in on midnight, and stayed at this pretty darn nasty hotel which I had google searched that morning.  We paid $80 for this room that did not even have toilet paper.  Thank god we were backpacking and came prepared.  We had been warned about trying to visit Yosemite in the summer, especially last minute, so this incredibly overpriced hotel was just the first example of why those warnings are true.

Here is a glimpse of the hotel's hallway.  Definitely has an old California gold rush kinda feel.

 
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The next morning we woke up early and after grabbing some gas and gas station coffee, we headed to Yosemite Valley.

 
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Our drive into the valley was absolutely ridiculously mind blowing.  Beautiful.  Massive sheer rock faces rising up on either side of us.  It really is the kind of thing that you have to experience for yourself.  But a million people do experience it, or at least a miniscule part of it, in the summer (4 million people visited the park last year).  We also read a statistic on one of our Yosemite maps that because the wilderness area is so large, 99% of visitors only see 2% of the park.  Here are people interacting with nature.

 
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I really can't criticize... I know I have most likely been seen doing this too.  Anyway... because of the massive number of people in the valley itself, parking was a challenge.  We ended up parking on the side of the road next to an overnight campground... crossing our fingers that we didn't get a ticket.  The shuttle buses in the valley were also totally packed at the stop near our car, so we ended up adding 2 miles onto our hike by walking through the valley to the trailhead.  Oh well.  We were just dying to get started.

 
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We decided to hike the Yosemite Falls Trail/Upper Yosemite Falls trail.  I should have known not to blindly take the recommendation of Mike's older brother who completed Ironman Canada last summer.  Oh, and his last experience backpacking this trail was with their middle brother, a fantastic triathlete who has competed at worlds in Australia and has been known to gleefully subject himself to push ups with a full pack on.  The first four miles were straight uphill.  Literally hiking up to the top of the massive cliffs lining the valley.

 
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I don't consider myself to be a wimp.  I played competitive soccer for 10 years, I have backpacked in 90 degree heat in Madagascar, camped for a month in Iceland, and been diving with sharks.  But this shit was hard.

 
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Ok, there were some nice views.

 
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I have to admit it really was worth it (maybe it took me a few weeks after the fact to realize it, but hey...).

 
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It was also pretty fabulous after we made it to the top and truly entered the backcountry... no more people.

 
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Camp for the night.

 
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And the mini bar I packed.

 
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Enjoying said mini bar.

 
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Can't take me anywhere.

 
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Despite a few challenges, we will be back... there is already talk of a potential fall/winter trip.   And disregard any warnings you may hear, you really should experience Yosemite, even if the only time you can go is in the summer.  We both love that feeling of being "out there" too much not to go back.  The silence.  The way the air smells.  And even I will admit the excercise backpacking provides feels pretty great.  I am kind of hoping we take a slightly more horizontal trail next time though.

 
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With love, Turtle & Moose.