"Amazingly stunning" only begins to describe the grandeur and magnitude of Yosemite National Park! Part 3 of this journey begins when we arrive in Yosemite and have the most gorgeous views I have seen in my life to date!
I shall digress for a moment: Traveling in California is a different experience than I am normally used to because I am from the Midwest and I enjoy my space, privacy and ease of getting from one place to the other. With this trip being my first time to actually explore some of California's national parks, I had a rude awakening to the challenges associated with actually getting around and doing any backcountry travel. We absolutely lucked out on the earlier leg of this journey with not having to deal with crowds or campsite issues. But upon arriving in Yosemite, we quickly realized this park is one of a kind. I have never been brought to tears due to frustration with trying to speak with a park representative on the phone than when I tried getting help figuring out backcountry permits at Yosemite.
Let me explain: I am known for being a planner and pride myself on having trips go smoothly when I plan them. This was a very humbling experience of how under prepared I was for the complexities of Yosemite. Having a mindset of "we can just wing it," doesn't make for a very smooth backcountry experience when at this park.
There were 4 of us in our group that had planned on doing the cables at Half Dome. 3 out of the 4 of us had our permits. Trying to get a permit for the 4th person was a complete nightmare. We finally only figured out our best options after speaking with some locals. Let me just say that some of my best travel experiences have been taking the advice of locals on what to go see and do! So when you are out and about, don't forget to ask the locals about their favorite spots to check out! It will enhance your trip experience for sure!
We were able to snag the last set of 4 spots for camping in Little Yosemite Valley. With that came automatic permits to hiking up the cables. So all that hard work paid off. Please learn from my mistakes and when you are going to a super popular place, plan your trip out accordingly so your vacation won't be dampened due to stress!
Now that we had the camping and permit issues out of the way, we were able to head to our trail head and start our 8 mile journey to Little Yosemite Valley! Our permits were for the Glacier Point trailhead and we started the hike in the early afternoon.
The views during our hike were just gorgeous and I really enjoyed getting into the backcountry of this very rugged part of the country. We saw a lot more people along the way than I expected on the hike to the campsite. We crossed the Upper Nevada Falls which was super cool to see the water flowing so high. There were all sorts of warning about dangerous water currents since all the rivers and creeks were running really high due to an exceptionally high amount of snow fall the prior winter .
We arrived at Little Yosemite Valley Campground right at dusk so we set up camp and prepped for our day hike to Half Dome and climbing the cables. We knew that the cables get really busy so we wanted to summit Half Dome as early as possible.
There is such a feeling of accomplishment when you push yourself to do something you are scared to do. Right when I got to the crux of the climb, I had a mini panic attack but then I said to myself that I had come too far to not finish so, f*** it I am doing this! That was the motivation I needed and I made it to the TOP! I really felt like I was on the top of the world; it was such a cool experience!
The four of us headed back down the cables and only had to cross paths with a few people on the actual cables. We were back down the cables by about 8am that morning and as we were making our way down the trail to Little Yosemite Valley we came across hoards of people. And so many of them were unprepared and did not have on the proper shoe wear. I was actually quite surprised how far some of these people had hiked in flip flops and one little bottle of water!
I tried really hard to have a positive attitude and push through my exhaustion. Luckily one of my buddies was nice enough to hike with me on and off and it really helped to boost my morale!
There were so many unexpected challenges that arose from this trip and I learned from each one. Here are the 7 things I learned:
I hope for those who read this that are debating about doing something but aren't due to their age, size, ability, or whatever that you would not let that stop you. Work towards fulfilling your dreams and becoming the person you want to be. It most likely will not be easy and you will have to work hard to accomplish it. But you know what they say, "they" being Theodore Roosevelt, "Nothing worth having comes easy!"
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For the love of travel and new adventures, we live our lives for the next dream fulfilled!