At Long Last, Yosemite

When a fantastic destination is within driving distance, it’s easy to put a trip there low on the priority list.  There’s always next weekend, or next summer, or next year, right? Well, that is precisely how we planned and unplanned adventures to Yosemite National Park for nearly ten years. We always assumed we’d get there next time.  Happy to report we finally made it to Yosemite for a three day backcountry camping trip.

After we moved to the east coast, and then overseas, our chances of making a quick drive to the park evaporated.  Every trip back to Cali was too short for us to sneak a vacation in. This summer, when we were invited to our friends’ Northern California forest wedding, we knew a Yosemite trip, no matter how short, was in order.

Yosemite was awesome and everything we wanted. This trip was a good lesson for us to take advantage of the great sites near us and not always wait until next time.

Yosemite definitely made us work for every vista. The hikes were intense, especially when lugging our 35lbs packs.  But every time we found a sitting rock for a break, the views were absolutely astonishing and inspired us to press on. Here take a peek.

Initially, we thought we’d pack our necessary camping gear in checked suitcases. But, that was not a realistic option for us.  Thankfully, David found Camp Crate, a company that ships rental gear and plans itineraries for adventure prone travelers like us. Now, we’ll never have to decide whether we pack a pair of dress shoes or a tent, because Camp Crate is an low stress solution to get gear pre-positioned for out-of-state or international travelers.

Things we’d do again

— Arrive early.  Parking lots near the visitor center and the most popular trailheads were nuts by 12:00, super glad we got our wilderness permit squared away early.

— Tougher hikes mean less people with selfie sticks. After the madness and crush of humans on the valley floor we were relieved once we started our hike.  We got to see all the iconic spots, Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and El Capitan without the hordes.

— Camp. We would definitely do a backcountry trip again. If the idea of lugging all your gear and food around for a few days is unappealing, the campsites looked pretty solid, albeit crowded.

Things we missed

—More to explore. We hit up only a tiny sliver of the park, there are so many other areas we’d love to see and visit.

—Other activities. We focused the bulk of our trip on hiking and camping. The bikers looked super happy and biking seems like a pleasant way to get around the valley floor. We also need to wade in the Merced river next time around.

—Half Dome. Try as we might to have no regrets, we still feel a small sting at turning Half Dome wilderness permits down. When we arrive to collect our wilderness permit, the kind NPS staffer told us she had a handful of Half Dome permits and the cables were up. The permits are notoriously difficult to score and we felt like the camping gods were smiling on us.  But we already had a route mapped and prepared, so we passed on the Half Dome permits.

Our Yosemite trip brings us one park closer to our goal of visiting all U.S. National Parks. Can’t wait to visit again in the tacky sweatshirts we got from the gift shop.