Project 52—Week #8 | Yosemite and Half Dome!
So, as a quick re-cap from the first portion of our California vacation in Monterey (read more here), Brian and I were selected for the lottery to hike the Half Dome in Yosemite this year! Brian has been trying for the past 3 years and we are so glad we got to hike it together!!!
It was my first time at Yosemite, and it was simply stunning. SUCH an amazing park, all around. We spent 6 days there, camping, cooking around a fire and HIKING. That was not enough time. It was great, and Yosemite National Park is so well maintained and the staff is oh so friendly. We had the best experience. Now, enough jabber, onto the photos!
We spent a good majority of the day driving, but were able to stop and buy some very fresh produce on the side of the road, something that made me immediately miss harvest season in Nebraska. Cherries, sweet corn, peaches, oh my!! :) The drive was beautiful. We spotted Half Dome immediately and were so excited for our upcoming adventure! Then we set up camp and grilled our first dinner: Sweet corn and kabobs!
Day 2 we hiked up to the ammmmmaaaazing Taft Point. It was a very easy hike (we wanted to save our legs for half dome!), delivering stunning views. I think this photo says it all:
Afterwards we went for a walk down in Yosemite Valley near our campsite. Here are some photos from our walk!
The campsites are in such a high demand that when we booked them in April there were no consecutive stays anywhere, so we set up and tore down camp 5 different times! Kept things interesting, and we got to see lots of different areas of the park.
Day 3. We had no plans, just decided to take it as it came. That morning around 9am we were told we needed a wilderness permit to camp at the site we were planning on staying at on day 4 on our way up to Half Dome. We rushed to the wilderness office to get a last minute permit. It was around 10am, and we found out people had arrived at 4am to wait in a line to get on a list for last minute permits! Our hearts sank. We got on the list, were nearly last in line, yet we still GOT THE PERMIT— but WOW did we ever cut that close! I was biting my fingernails and Brian was stewing, haha! I think we got the very last campsite permit. Hallelujah! I was not extremely excited about the alternative: hiking approximately 18 miles in one day. Tons of people do that every day, be we wanted to take it all in and go slowly. Thankfully, we were able to. That evening we just enjoyed the area and went for a quick (freezing) swim.
Day 4 & 5
Day 4! We started our half dome hike! With all of our camping gear packed on our backs, we headed 4 miles up the John Muir trail. Listen, I love to hike. And I've done my fair share of long hikes here in Hawaii, as well as a handful of 14'ers in Colorado, but I am new to backpacking and carrying 50 lbs of extra weight on your back in hot/humid weather makes 4 miles seem like forever (and Brian had way more gear than I did! He was a champ though and it hardly phased him). It took us a really long time. But we started early enough and were really in no rush—the John Muir trail is gorgeous and we wanted to enjoy it. There were also several swimming spots along the way, and we jumped in at every opportunity! The water was freezing, and really was exactly what we needed. Haha, Brian and I joked that this was our cleanest camping trip ever because we swam so often in crisp mountain spring water. It was really perfect and felt like a dream. Oh, and we left the good camera in the vehicle, we just had no room for it!
Also, I've gotta say, I feel like there are so many photos of me in this blog—it's usually the other way around! Thanks, Brian, for documenting this trip so well (I didn't take very many this time around!)
That night we gathered around a group campfire with 15 or so other campers and heard lots of stories from people hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (which in my opinion is the ultimate hard core thing a person could do). One man told us about swarms of biting flies that actually left a hole in his shirt and drew blood! We also were informed that there was a female BEAR who apparently lived near the camp and was routinely spotted nightly going through peoples campsites looking for food. We were told that if she approached our tent to yell as loud as we could to try to scare her away.
This midwestern girl hard time falling asleep that night. Lol.
BUT the next morning before I even remembered that it was my birthday, my amazing, wonderful, thoughtful husband brewed me some tea (a serious labor of love, he carried the pot all the way up to basecamp so he could make me tea on my birthday!).Then he bestowed around my neck a birthday bow, which in turn became one of my favorite parts about the entire day. Dozens of people passed us on the trails and I had so many people wish me a happy birthday, it was so wonderful. It was the best, and I felt so special! Thanks, Brian :)
Thankfully we were able to keep our tent up til on our way back DOWN so we were able to hike a little lighter (and faster without all of our gear) to the top of the Half Dome! Next time we want to stay at this campground for the entirety of our stay, it was so peaceful (aside from bear-scares, lol)! We wish we would've had another night there.
From our campsite we had another 4 miles to go. We were so excited to get to the cables, which comprise the last 400ft to the top. The cables were in our opinion easier to climb than the brutal switchbacks we had just endured under a blazing sun. Ha! The cables were SO MUCH FUN.
And finally, we made it to the top! This was the best feeling in the world!
Seriously amazing. I'm not sure that this birthday celebration will ever be topped :D
Roundtrip we had hiked 14 miles that day—18 total. We also ran out of water on our way down!! We hiked several miles with dry mouth and were so so so happy when we made it back to base camp. Haha, oh my gosh, I have this image in my head of Brian using our water filter like a straw. Hahaha. We were so thirsty, haha, I think he swan-dived in with that filter hanging out his mouth!! So funny. Getting to the river was blissful, we were so happy to lay there re-hydrating ourselves and the MRE we shared never tasted so good.
Almost back :(
That night, back in the valley after we set up camp, we had my "birthday cake", a mini-lemon pie we found in one of the stores at Yosemite. It was a perfect birthday!
It was time to leave Yosemite :( BUT our trip wasn't over yet! That day we drove up to visit our dear friends Rochelle and Haley, and made a new friend Melanie! It was so nice seeing these gals and catching up. I love my California family!
That evening, I came down with a stomach bug from our camping trip and was out for the count. Rochelle was such an amazing host and I am so thankful I was sick at her house, instead of out in the wilderness, ha! Thanks AGAIN Rochelle!
Day 7 was remarkably stressful. We left with plenty of time to spare to make it to the airport on time, but got stuck in traffic for 2 hours—lots of stop and go which was awful because I was still feeling queasy. Brian was a rockstar and I don't know how but we made it to the airport about 5 minutes before the cutoff to make it on the airplane! Whooo-hoooo! It was a roller coaster day, lol! I'm just glad Brian and I were in it all together. I have I mentioned he's amazing? I am so blessed and often think about how thankful I am that God brought us together.
All in all, this was such an amazing vacation! Thanks for following along in the journey!
Help keep our blog circle going strong by checking out Sharleen's P52 post this week! Brian has good intentions, but hasn't really finished his second post so...stay tuned for that in the coming weeks, hah!
Want to have my Project 52 posts delivered to your email?
Sign up for my newsletter below. I'll only email you Project 52 info, and a monthly summary newsletter, promise!
Did ya miss a week?
Check out some of my recent Project 52's by clicking the links below!
Amber DeCicco is a birth photographer. Check out this page for more information!