After living in LA for 7 years, and only finding my love for it by exploring the beauty around it, I decided to take a backpacking trip to Yosemite.
I had gone once when I was pretty little with the family, but I wanted to see all that it had to offer now that I had found my love for the outdoors.
A buddy of mine drove out from Idaho to do the venture with me. He is one of my all time favorite travel companions. He was whom I visited in Cozumel when he was working there for 7 months, and who I look forward to seeing many other parts of the world with.
I personally love solo travel, but when I do decide to travel with someone else, I’m very selective. I think that’s actually pretty important when traveling, to find someone you’re compatible with or else it will make or break your trip. I personally like to go with people who also enjoy solo travel. It shows a sign of independence and curiosity, and that they have a keen sense of their surroundings. I typically choose people who can teach me a thing or two from their own explorations that I can keep in my back pocket.
We kind of winged this trip. I packed up my backpack, (Sleeping bag, warm clothes, hiking boots, reusable water bottle, thermals, beanies etc.). We went in September so it was getting fairly cold out. I drove out and met him at the base of the mountain since he was already in Northern California.
Over the summer, there had been some pretty gnarly wildfires there, so a good portion of the forest was burnt trees as far as you could see. It always kills me to see a sight like that, but nothing gives me hope like seeing green growing through a charcoaled ground. I love life after death.
After going through the park entrance (We went through the Hetch Hetchy entrance, $35 per vehicle), a few of the campgrounds were already booked full, so the rest were all first come first serve. We took our chances and went to a couple to see what was available. Porcupine Flat was our first choice, but was sadly a full lot. We ended up at White Wolf campground. There wasn’t too much that was appealing about it, other than they had bathrooms and showers. It was $18 a night and the perfect spot to set up, because it was starting to get cold and dark outside. They have food storage that is mandatory you store your food in there, as bears and wildcats and other rodents roam the grounds.
We stopped at Tuolumne Grove Trail on our way to the campground. There you can take a short, maybe 1 mile hike down to see some massive, ancient sequoias. It’s worth it for a quick pit stop just to get a chance to hug some trees that are bigger than you can fathom.
I wish we had arrived earlier to gather some firewood and kindling because of how low the temperatures got so quickly, but sadly we just froze our butts off. I can say with confidence that I didn’t pack enough socks or layers. I wasn’t prepared for this kind of cold. At one point I put my gloves on my feet for insulation and I still crack up at the thought of it.
We wore headlamps and played our own version of cards against humanity, as 2 weren’t enough players. I advise bringing games, because of how dark it gets so quickly up there, it’s a nice pastime.
When we woke up it was 19˚. I had some back pain when I woke up, because of putting up a 2-man tent in the dark; I accidently pitched it on top of a tree root.
Makes for a funny story now, but again, I couldn’t advise getting there with ample daylight on your side, more.
The next morning we got an early start. We drove down into the valley, which is absolutely breathtaking with the sun rising. I was thankful for the views, and even more thankful for the sun to thaw out my body. It. Gets. SO. Damn. Cold!!!
El Capitan doesn’t receive justice from pictures. This thing is MASSIVE. Bring binoculars, and you can see people rock climbing it and their camps still set up hanging off the side of this cliff, if you get there early enough. People scaling it are the only source of reference to understand just how big this thing is. Even with binoculars, it’s still easy to miss the people climbing it, because they’re still so small.
If you have time on your side, spend it in the valley. There are so many beautiful open fields, hiking trails, and waterfalls to hike to.
I was determined to see Half Dome from the best view. We drove up to Glacier Point. It was a bit of a drive from the valley, but totally worth it. The drive up is thick with redwoods, lush green moss everywhere, and sun peering through around every corner. There have only been a couple places I’ve been that have taken my breath away, but sitting on the edge overlooking the valley, half dome, Bridalveil Falls, and being able to hear the falls roaring from that far away, really did it for me. Glacier point is a must! It wasn’t too crowded either. It’s a perfect spot to really capture all of Yosemite.
I used the South entrance to exit the park. On your way out, there is a stop called Three Groves. You enter and park at Mariposa Grove just near the parks South entrance. Its about a 4 mile hike round trip, but you will witness some of the largest trees on this planet there. If you don’t get a chance to go to Sequoia National Park, which is not too far off from Yosemite, make a point to stop at Three Groves, and take in these Sequoias. They will blow your MIND.
Try to at least spend at least 3 days in Yosemite. There is just so much to see and take in.