Yosemite Recap

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Mirror Lake

Length of Stay:

  • 3 days, 3 nights

High:

  • Exploring the Valley’s multiple viewpoints

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Low:

  • Construction and crowds

Favorite Hike:

  • The Mist Trail to Vernal Falls
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Getting “misted” on the Mist Trail. Note the rainbow in the bottom right corner.

Favorite Treat:

  • Waterfalls and rainbows
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The Valley of People

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Tunnel View – the best overlook in the park featuring El Cap, Half Dome, and Bridalveil Fall

Granite cliffs.

Towering water falls.

World-renowned vistas.

Yosemite.

When I decided to take this crazy sojourn around the country, Yosemite National Park was a distant dream that stirred my rock climber’s imagination. Visions of Half Dome and El Cap danced in my head as I methodically planned out the route I would take on this fascinating road trip. Yosemite was on the top of the I-can’t-wait-to-see-it list.

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It’s beautiful. It truly is.

BUT.

It also strangely felt like Disneyland. Hotels, restaurants, tours, buses, camera-clad sightseers, and long lines. I completely understand why so many people would desire to come to this incredible paradise, but I also selfishly wished everything synthetically-made would disappear for a couple hours.

I wanted the entire park to myself.

I wanted to look at a waterfall without a small child bumping into me.

I wanted to hike to an overlook without having to a wait for a group of unmindful teenagers to move aside so I could pass.

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The famous Yosemite Falls

I found bits and pieces of alone time while pedaling my rented bike through a less-frequented area or while strolling along the Valley Loop trail.

And this, friends, is the quandary facing many of the national parks. They are a preservation of a natural space, yet a place of recreation for others’ enjoyment. I am faced with a similar conundrum: I desire to see more Americans get outside and experience the beauty of the wild, yet I also seek to connect with nature on a personal, individual nature.

John Muir, a famous naturalist and advocate of the Sierra Nevada range, emphasizes the importance of finding solitude in the great outdoors: “Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter.

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Admiring Half Dome and relishing a rare moment of alone-ness

 

Ask Me Anything (Questions)

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I get a lot of questions during my travels.

Some are serious.

Some are funny.

Some are outright ridiculous.

Now here is your chance to ask questions that you have regarding my trip. It can be about the parks themselves, the logistics of traveling, or any other curiosity that has left you wondering.

No topic is off-limits, but I can’t promise 100% that I’ll answer everything. 

So here’s what you do.

Simply comment on this post and I won’t approve it. Yep, that means that I’ll be the only one who will ever see your name attached to your question. If you have my personal email or number, you can also contact me that way. In 7 days, I’ll create another post responded to your inquiries.

Let ’em fly.

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Kings Canyon Recap

Length of Stay:

  • 1 day, 1 night (Kings Canyon is adjacent to Sequoia and share many of the same natural phenomenons)
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A misty forest walk sans people

High:

  • Lack of crowds due to rain
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The nation’s official Christmas tree*

Low:

  • Hydroplaning while towing Clarence down a mountain in pouring rain and fog

Favorite Hike:

  • Big Stump trail
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A big stump. This hike pays tribute to the folly of humans back when we decided to cut a bunch of Sequoia trees down for sub-par lumber

Favorite Treat:

  • Local Sierra Nevada brews

* Fun fact: General Grant’s trunk is so big, that if you filled it with gas you could drive around the Earth 350 times without refueling

Giant Forest

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It was so quiet. The pine needles strewn on the forest floor seemed to absorb most sounds. I could only hear myself inhaling the thin mountain atmosphere; I watched as my breath-clouds swirled around the misty air. As predicted, 7:30 am was a perfect time to visit the popular giant sequoia forest. It was cold, but the pleasant crispness made my experience walking around the home of these really big trees that much more special.

Though not the tallest trees in the world (that award goes to the Redwoods) the Sequoias are the largest by volume. While most trees taper as they grow upwards, Sequoias keep their girth well up into their branches. Giving one of the giant sequoias a hug is more like opening your arms and just leaning up against their base.

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Hugging a random sequoia. (Note the black fire scar on its left side)

As I strolled along the grove, I took note of how each tree looked different. Their trunks bore strange characteristics and markings that I later learned were due to past wildfires, some as far back as two thousand years ago.

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When a sequoia fell on the road many years ago, they just decided to cut a tunnel into it

These trees are strong, resilient, and special. General Sherman, the largest living thing on the planet, has branches the size of regular trees. I quickly snapped my picture with him before the mid-day onslaught of visitors arrived. Everyone was hoping to catch a glimpse of these marvelous species, and Sherman was the General of ’em all.

And when everything became busier, I slipped further into the forest with the giants.

It was more fun when it was just us.

Pinnacles Recap

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An earlier rainfall left everything feeling fresh

Length of Stay:

  • 2 days, 2 nights

High:

  • Wonderful bird sightings
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Watching for birds as the sun begins to set

Low:

  • Rising gas prices (I miss the $1.89/gallon areas)

Favorite Hike:

  • High Peaks Loop
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Coming up out of the talus caves

Favorite Treat:

  • Chicken/veggie shish kebobs cooked over an open flame (compliments of my new friends, two lovely ladies who also own a Little Guy travel trailer)