Thursday, March 28, 2013

California Roadtrip: Yosemite

California Roadtrip: Yosemite Half Dome

There's something shameful about being a native Californian who's never been to Yosemite. How I never made it there in the back seat of my parents' car is a total mystery to me given how many California peaks they climbed, how much they loved classic camping spots, and how many miles I did travel in the back seat on road trips to other destinations. I would unwillingly pile into the backseat, only contented by listening to cassette tapes on my headphones, and try to ignore my mom excitedly pointing out cows. But those trips were proverbially, ineluctably life-shaping, and an appreciation for long stretches of road, improbable geological features, road side stops (especially gift shops), and Western destinations seeped osmotically into me. Now I dream of them. I would love to retrace some of the trips we made while I was growing up and I'm definitely excited to pull up to towns and places I've never been. Yosemite seemed like a necessity.
Yosemite Half Dome
Yosemite Falls
Yosemite Waterfall

Spring is a great time of year to visit because the snow is melting, which means major waterfall action. They're mesmerizing moving aspects of the landscape from afar, but you can also get up close enough to feel their icy mist.
Yosemite Falls WaterfallYosemite Falls Waterfall
We stayed in a little cabin in Curry Village that was old but maybe passable as vintage (it seemed they were in the process of updating and rebuilding these), and tried not to think about catching the hantavirus. In the evening, we headed over to the Ahwahnee Hotel for cocktails and dinner in the fancy dining room. I've always wanted to go there, and it was beautiful but dark (literally and sort of vibe-wise — it inspired the Overlook Hotel from The Shining), so it was hard to get any good pics.

Camp Curry Village YosemiteThe next day, we hiked up to Artist Point. I found our route on one of the first internet lists of Yosemite hikes I came across, but somehow not many of the Yosemite workers had heard of it, and it seemed relatively untraveled. We had the trail almost to ourselves the whole time, which was eerie and cool. I secretly hoped to see a (peaceful) bear. Once we got to Artist Point, it was just us and the view the entire time.
Yosemite Half DomeYosemite Hiking
El Capitan Yosemite
At the scenic point, we hid a secret message for my brother and sister-in-law who were on an epic California road trip of their own, and had plans to visit Yosemite later the same week. I've been tweeting them clues, and I don't know if they'll follow the same trail, but I hope they find our analog geocache if they do!

Yosemite Valley View
This was a great first trip to Yosemite, and I hope to go back for more. I kept saying that next time I want to hike Half Dome when the cables are up, but after spying this book in the Ahwahnee gift shop, I'm thinking twice. Would you do it (or have you)?

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