Our visit to the Home of the Half Dome

“I want to do something outdoorsy but also have a nice dinner on the day of our anniversary”, I said as we were scouting for things to do for our first anniversary getaway.  This declaration from me conveniently narrowed our options. We picked Yosemite National Park, which was a few hours drive from San Francisco. Added bonus was I could also meet my friend and her soon-to-be one year old daughter on this trip.

 

So it was settled, we’d  fly into San Jose, spend an evening with P and her family, head out to Yosemite the next day which was about a 3 hour drive, two days at Yosemite and head to SFO. Seems doable, right? We were wrong about one thing though , thinking that 2 days at Yosemite would do.

 

Like usual, R and I split our responsibilities. Dinner and hotel reservations would be mine while he took care of our itinerary for the national park. Now, this was the first legit getaway after Peru for both of us and needless to say we were very excited!!! And thus began endless hours of scouring the internet for deals, restaurant recommendations and things-to-do-at-yosemite. Here is how it went down…

 

We made it to San Jose a couple of hours later than planned (Thanks, Southwest). Meeting P and her family felt awesome. We chatted late into the night and surprisingly woke up in time to leave to Yosemite. R and I did not count for one thing, we used the maps on our phone for directions. But as we got close to Sonora which is about a 40-50 min drive to the park we lost network. Thankfully, there were signs all along the expressway to guide us to the park.

 

Once you reach the park entrance , its 30$ for a car pass that is valid for week. The park rangers are extremely helpful with information. And for us, that was invaluable cause we lost our source of information (our 4G network).  Having no network was a blessing in disguise. You’ll find out why :).

 

Now, from our research we knew that during our time at Yosemite we wanted to cover Yosemite Valley, The Vernal Falls and Sequoia groves. So for day one , we wanted to visit the valley. Most of the car route in the park goes in parallel with the Merced river. There are shoulders that you could pull into and walk down to the water. If you visit the park on a beautiful, sunny day like we did, we highly recommend you stop and make time for this. Cause, tip-toeing bare foot in cold water is good for the soul 🙂

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After spending a considerable amount of time at the water, we made our to the valley. Enroute we saw the sturdy El Capitan. R and I stopped at the Yosemite Valley Village for lunch. We chanced a meeting with a lovely elderly couple from Utah who shared a lunch table with us. They were camping close to the Vernal Falls and gave us a few handy tips about bus routes and such. We also learned that this was their second stop at Yosemite while their first visit was nearly 40 years ago. They left us with an entirely different view of marriage and the desire to make Zion National Park the destination of our next adventure (eeeks, so excited). Having taken advice from our veteran lunch companions, R and I took the bus upto the glacier point and hiked the short distance to the top. Little did we know about the view…

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Suffice to to say we spent close to an hour or more marveling at this magnanimous glacier formation in front of us. Also, there is something about nature and  the realization that you are so little when compared to everything around you. That comprehension brings in a different kind of calm to oneself. Soaking in the blue skies, the marvelous half dome and the blessings of a gorgeous day we made our back to our hotel in Sonora.

Well rested and fed, we were excited to be on our way back to the park to hike up to Vernal falls and check out sequoia groves. We decided to get boxed lunch to eat at the falls. Now, I am not a big fan of sandwiches but this little cafe called Firefall did whip up one of the best turkey basil paninis ever (highly recommend). We parked our car close to Curry Village campground and began our hike on to Vernal Falls. The weather was perfect and the path had plenty of shade, thanks to the gigantic trees. When we hiked Waynapichchu in February, our sole purpose was to be careful on the uneven path and make it to the top safely. But now, we took breaks as and when our heart pleased. We laid on the rocks looking at the sky, talked and listened to the calming sounds of the falls. When we did make it to the top, R decided to take dip and did a 20 foot dive(Please be extremely cautious if you plan on doing this) . We enjoyed our lunch whilst sitting on some rocks facing the falls (PURE BLISS)!
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While I did not want to leave our current scenery, R was persistent about visiting the Sequoia groves. Now the biggest grove in the park Mariposa Grove was closed for restoration. This made R very sad but the chance to visit the Tuolumne Grove and see even a sample of these giant trees cheered him up. So, off we went.

The map said it waIMG_0715s 1 mile hike downwards with an ascent of about 450ft on the way back. Now, a 2 mile hiked seemed rather do-able. But get this, we ran out of our water supply from the Vernal Falls hike. We figured there would be a water fountain at the beginning of the hike into the grove (WRONG!! – no water fountain). And then we made the dumbest decision to hike the 2 miles with absolutely no water in our possession(Don’t do this). Suffice to say,we would never attempt a hike again without water. This grove was supposed to house the smallest of sequoias. Now, colossal trees with the most splendid bark I have ever seen ,are no where close to small( in my honest opinion ). They were astounding and were a perfect ending to our short but eventful trip to Yosemite.

We knew we’d come back to this spectacular gift of nature cause there is more of it to explore, soak up and enjoy! Until then…

 

 

Take aways:

  1. Staying within the park is highly advised.
  2. Comfortable shoes & clothes for hikes.
  3. Water.
  4. Camera
  5. Watch out for weather forecasts if traveling in winter.

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