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Yosemite National Park - A Test of Patience


Yosemite National Park sucks. Nah, I'm 100% joking. Yosemite was pretty amazing.

Our final National Park on our trip. Our final destination through the Sierras. Sierra Nevadas. Wait. Sierra. Sierra is actually plural. If you want to blend in to the California scene, don't out yourself as an outsider. You're not in the Sierras. You're not in the Sierra Nevadas, nor the high sierras. It's just Sierra. Or Sierra Nevada. Today I learned! 

See, California, I'm learning, and so should you. When in Seattle, it's I5. Not the I5. Not the 99. Not the 405. Just say the number. 

Either way, and all joking aside the Sierra were absolutely beautiful and I can't wait to return to explore more of the vast range. Lake Tahoe and Tahoe National Forest next? Yes, please!

Yosemite National Park sign
Park sign!


However, this was by-far the most popular and most visited National Park that I've visited in my life so far and with that you have to bring a certain mental state and attitude with you. If it's summer...unless you're backpacking in the backcountry wilderness, there's going to be people. Especially if you're in the Yosemite Valley, where most visitors tend to congregate. And people are indeed everywhere. There's traffic. There's backups on trails. There's a higher concentration of disrespectful visitors not respecting the environment and not respecting the Leave No Trace ethos. The amount of people I saw trampling meadows, walking off trail, being disruptive, etc., was way too high. There are signs of human erosion everywhere as well. It's sad and unfortunate. Fortunately, Yosemite has implemented a reservation rule to allow only limited amounts of cars in the park during peak season. It's a good start, but definitely not enough. Yosemite was like the Disney World of National Parks. And that's not a good thing. 

Lower Chilnualna Falls -- Decided to take a quick stop while driving through Wawona. 

Speaking of Wawona, what a weird place, man. This was the first place we encountered on our entry to the park. As I understand now, Wawona as a town, or more specifically, census designated place, came before the park existed, essentially. However, Yosemite National Park now includes Wawona, so it's fascinating to see all of the living arrangements, housing, cottages, AirBNBs, etc within a national park. The Wawona Hotel was in full force, using a half dozen sprinklers to water their browning grass in the ever-so-dry Yosemite Valley. 

What's the point? Why waste the water? On top of that, we saw there was a golf course in Wawona as well. A golf course is just about the antithesis of a National Park. While I understand the Wawona golf course makes an effort to be more "sustainable", golf course's are bad for the environment, period. Sorry, golfers, but this made me quite upset seeing in a national park. National Parks are for preservation, not your perfect putting greens and golf cart joyrides. If you want to work on your swing, maybe try doing it somewhere that isn't supposed to be a haven for wildlife and natural beauty. end rant.

Wawona Hotel Wasting Water
Wasting Water on burned grass at the Wawona Hotel in drought stricken California. Maybe don't worry about Monoculture grass and try preservation instead?

Also, Yes, you need a reservation to Yosemite in the busy months from

Despite limited cars in to the park, parking was god awful. We spent way too long looking for parking near viewpoints and trailheads in the valley. There were several road closures as well that made it even more difficult to get where you need to go. The rangers suggested either taking the shuttle, or walking to the trailhead. I don't have a problem walking places, but when it adds 2 miles one way to your hike, it kind of sucks, especially when you didn't plan for that, and have limited time at the park.  The shuttle also takes forever. It takes nearly an hour and a half to make a trip around the valley. So you could easily spend an hour on the shuttle depending on your destination. The shuttle that serves the area we were looking to go, like Mist Trail and Mirror Lake wasn't running due to construction. I'm not complaining, I just wish I came into this all with a better understanding of expectations.

Tunnel View yosemite
There it is. Does it even need a description? It's Tunnel View! One of the most iconic views of the Yosemite Valley explodes into view after coming out of the Wawona Tunnel. It's striking how Half Dome looks like a granite dolphin. It's amazing how well you can see Bridalveil Fall. I'd love to stare at this all day, but we have places to be, places to see!

Bridal Veil Falls Yosemite
It's a hot day in the Yosemite Valley. Not to worry, Bridalveil Fall is here to cool you off!



Bridalveil Fall mist
The sun is baring down, but the windswept mist from the falls is more than enough to cool off!

El Capitan Meadows
El Capitan from El Capitan Meadows. Using just our phone camera zoom we were able to see climbers working their way up El Capitan. As someone who never thought about rock climbing in the slightest, this is mind blowing to me. It also sent me down a rabbit-hole and I started watching videos about Alex Honnold, and his insane climbing ventures.

el cap meadow
Granite among the meadow

Yosemite Falls
Tallest falls in the park AND in North America, Yosemite Falls! They're huge!! It took forever to get here, because parking literally anywhere near here was insane. We just ended up parking in a lot for Camp 4. Oops.

Yosemite falls
More falls views


It was getting hotter out, and it was time to get out of the Yosemite Valley. The Yosemite Valley only accounts for a super small percentage of the entire park. We decided to take a trip up Tioga Road for some higher altitude views to cool off. Thankfully, only a few days prior to us arriving, Tioga Road opened for the season! We got super lucky with that. Since it's a high altitude road, it usually doesn't open until late may or June. 

Siesta Lake Yosemite
A quick stop at this nice lake off of Tioga Road -- Siesta Lake

Views from Olmsted Point
Olmsted Point had some awesome views. Those mountains don't even look real!

Olmsted Point
There was a strong breeze blowing up this high that was intensely refreshing. It was now in the 70s, as opposed to near 90 in the valley. Olmsted Point is at an elevation of 8418 feet!

Tenaya Lake
Tenaya Lake was beautiful! I have a soft spot for alpine lakes. This guy sits at 8150 feet of elevation. Snow level was currently at 9000 feet per the rangers, but there were several piles of snow still sitting around the lake area. Love it. Meanwhile the valley bakes in 90 degree heat.

Prisitne waters of tenaya lake
The best part of Tenaya Lake was...there was nobody here. There was one guy paddleboarding, and another few people on the opposite side of the lake, but that was it. Talk about relaxing.

Yellow Rings Tenaya Lake
Some very interesting yellow rings on the rocks at Tenaya Lake

From Tenaya Lake we headed to Tuolumne Meadows before heading back to our lodging for the night. 

Tuolumne Meadows
I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was beautiful up here!

Tuolumne Meadows
Yeah. This place was worth it. Alpine Meadows are cool. Especially when a river, aptly named the Tuolumne River, runs through it.

Tuolumne River and Meadow
How picture perfect is that?

Mountain Views at Tuolumne
Can you live at Yosemite? I guess if you're a ranger. I'd live here.

Tuolumne Soda Springs
Ah the Tuolumne Soda Springs -- There is cold, carbonated water bubbling out of the ground up here. Pretty neat. Do you dare take a drink?

Beautiful Tuolumne Meadows
What an awesome, very sparsely populated area. Very few people were here as well. I'm in heaven.

We headed back down Tioga Rd for the night. We had to get to our cottage at Yosemite Lakes RV Resort to eat, sleep, and wake up for a few more Yosemite sights in the morning. It was a decent little place. Especially for just renting a cottage. 

Yosemite Day 2

 Day 2 was a Saturday, which means we needed a vehicle reservation. Thankfully I remembered to get this back in March when we booked the trip. 

Merced River Gushing
On our walk to the mist trail. We had to add 2 miles each way just to get to the trailhead because of road closures. Cool sights along the way though, like the absolutely gushing Merced River! That must mean the falls are raging too, huh?

Vernal Falls Mist Trail
Vernal Falls on the Mist Trail. We stood here for quite some time and most certainly got quite wet. We were contemplating continuing the trail. Unfortunately we did not, knowing our own limitations. The stairs up the falls were super wet and incredibly janky. There was only handrails every so often. I'm terrified of heights. Even my GF who isn't usually affected by heights, was like yeahhhh maybe not, because of how wet,slippery, and janky the steps were. It was still worth it to get to this point though. Very cool! I had one heck of a time going back DOWN the steps. My legs were shaking like crazy on the tiny janky steps I thought I was going to have to slide down on my butt. More power to anyone who does the entire thing.

Rainbow -- Vernal Falls Mist Trail
Vernal Falls Mist Trail Rainbow -- How Vibrant!

Heavy Mist on the trail
Looking up at the rest of the trail. Hikers slowly getting swallowed by the mist.

raging waters
The raging waters coming off of the falls.

Merced River Happy Isles
We did a short hike to Happy Isles, small islands in the middle of the Merced River. We sat and had a peaceful snack before hiking over to Mirror Lake.

Mirror Lake Yosemite El Capitan
Well we made it! Since it was a perfect and beautiful day, like most days in California, the mirroring aspect of Mirror Lake was in full force. A perfect reflection of El Capitan!

Mirror Lake Yosemite
Slightly less perfect, due to some ripples, but the sky against El Cap looks amazing.

PLane taking off from a rock
Did this plane take off from the mountain?? :)

Yosemite Friendly Squirrels
The squirrels at Yosemite are way too friendly and not afraid of people, which is sad, because it means the general public is feeding them. Tsk Tsk

From Mirror Lake we headed to one last little viewpoint area that we missed from the day previous because it's just so crazy busy here in the summer. If someone asks, IS YOSEMITE BUSY IN THE SUMMER? YOU BET. 

Yosemite Valley View
Yosemite Valley View -- We hung out on a log here just taking in the views for a while, knowing full well our day and entire trip was coming to a close. A great reflection spot to sit and think and ruminate. We zoomed in and watched the climbers on El Cap, we noticed they definitely made some headway since the day previous. Average climbers can take several days to climb the entire thing. This fact, as a non-climber and someone pretty ignorant to climbing, is mind-blowing.   

Well that's all she wrote. We had plans to do other things, but time got away from us. We wanted to explore the Hetch Hetchy area, and we also wanted to check out Glacier Point as well. Oh well, there's always next time. We had to head back to our cottage fairly early so we could wake up at an ungodly hour and drive to the airport. 

 We did stop at the Yosemite Village store. This thing was like a little Whole Foods in a national park. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not, but they had EVERYTHING. They even had pre-cooked salmon fillets just ready to go. That is some bougie level camping there. 

I wish we had that level of convenience at our lodging! We ended up staying outside the park just a bit, not near El Portal, but down route 120 a bit at Thousand Trails Yosemite Lakes. It was fine. It's a campground that seems like a repurposed KOA. We rented a cottage for the 2 nights we were in the area for an exorbitant amount of money, but that's my fault. I wanted AC. They claimed to have a grocery store on site, but it was really more of a convenience store with SOME food items. They had ground beef at least. Burgers at the cottage, ahoy! I ultimately can't complain.

Anyway, thanks CA! We'll return soon. We still need to visit Death Valley, Joshua Tree, and Redwoods. 2/3 of those parks we will visit in the cool season, of course, I don't need to get heat exhaustion again like I did at Pinnacles NP.


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