Yosemite Days

Now THIS is the way to start the day. It’s a balmy 85 degrees today on the coast of San Diego and I’m starting my day working at one of my favorite cafe’s with an iced latte and a my laptop. Even as a freelancer I rarely venture outside of my home office to work anymore. I get terribly distracted having people around to watch and wonder about (people watching is one of my favorite past times), and I’m quite addicted to my two-screen setup at home. And yet… I needed to get out today. To breathe fresh air and escape the noise AND the quite of home. It’s lovely out here. No, I won’t get as much done but that’s ok. Productivity will be tomorrow’s goal. Today’s goal is to breathe.

Today’s other goal…to finally write a post about our summer vacation in Yosemite National Park. It’s been almost 2 weeks now since we headed up to one of America’s most beautiful places with our good friends Dan and Lyndsay for a long weekend of camping and playing. If you’ve never been to Yosemite, let me start by saying that after traveling all over the world (I’ve lost count but I think I’ve been to around 28-30 countries by now) I still will say that Yosemite is one of the most spectacularly beautiful places on earth. As soon as you enter the park you can feel the majesty of the place. Huge golden fields lay surrounded by towering granite rock faces. A brisk, clean river lazily meanders through the valley, offering a drinking hole to bears and deer alike while offering vacationers a place to swim and play and drift along in rafts and inner tubes. There are waterfalls to explore, peaks to summit, rocks begging for climbers and a high country (around 11,000 feet) full of beauty and quiet for backpackers. In a word, Yosemite is heavenly.

J visits Yosemite every January with a groups of buddies who camp in the snow, eat lots of burgers and beans, shiver a lot and love it. Not for me. Yet every year I get a bit jealous about this trip to the park so this year I insisted on a summer visit. We’d go the weekend after labor day… kids would be back in school so maybe it would be less crowded (in fact, it wasn’t crowded at all)…and we’d get some friends to come along. Shared joy is double joy, after all. We made our reservations 7 months out for our September visit. You literally have to reserve a spot in a campground within the first 2 minutes that they come available or you’ll miss out.

We’re definitely a couple who loves to camp. In fact, we had gone camping with another couple just the weekend before in Big Bear. The last time I’d been to Yosemite was in 2007 when I was guiding a group of high school kids with an amazing organization called Bold Earth. That was the trip that made me love this park, but I was leading a group so between planning meals, listening to whining (“we have to hike again?”) and making sure that everyone was safe and happy it wasn’t exactly relaxing.

This trip, however, was the most fun and relaxing camping trip I’ve EVER done. We hiked, we laughed, we read, we wandered, we played in the river, we rode bikes, we ate ice cream, we relaxed. It. Was. Amazing.

On our first day we hiked up to the top of Nevada Falls. The hike is pretty steep but totally worth it. At the top is a small pool were we ate lunch and cooled off in the numbing water.

One of our favorite days was spent riding through the valley on rented bicycles, doing tricks like a bunch of kids and stopping to wade in the river. Along the way, Lynds and I found a couple of discarded inner tube that we took back to our camp, ending our day floating along and chatting until our bums were numb and our fingers were all shriveled up like a bunch of raisins.

The only snafus along the way? Well, J somehow ate a yellow jacket on our first day (we’re guessing the little bugger landed on his sandwich before he took a bite) and proceeded to sting him several times inside his mouth. Thankfully J isn’t allergic to bees or it would have been a serious emergency (and thankfully Lynds is a nurse) but he still felt pretty awful that first day with his mouth and throat throbbing.

the remains of the yellow jacket and it’s stinger

We’re also pretty confident a bear was roaming our campsite the first night. We woke in the middle of the night to our camping neighbor’s dog growling and barking like crazy… it was that angry growl and we knew it meant bear. The next thing we know we head a very loud something scurry heavily right by our heads. Bear. Three of us heard it and confirmed in the morning. Strangely enough, I wasn’t scared. Perhaps because I knew J would karate chop anything that could cause me harm.

So there you have it, our trip to Yosemite in a nutshell. It will always remain as one of my favorite vacations ever, one that we hope we can repeat annually with our friends.

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