It's hard, if not impossible, to describe Yosemite better than John Muir or to capture it better than Ansel Adams, and certainly my experience and knowledge of the park and the area pale in comparison to theirs - and to some of those inspiring rock climbing pioneers like Yvon Chouinard or Royal Robbins! So, I will probably use some cliched expressions about how majestic and awe-inspiring it is, as I am dwarfed by their words, images and deeds. Still, I will try my best to narrate and share our weekend getaway to Yosemite, as paltry as it is.
I will give myself full credit for the planning. Back in November, I looked at our calendar, realized that I would have a few glorious days between semesters, and so I booked a few nights at Yosemite. I had been to Yosemite eight years before - back in January and April of 2003, but nothing since then. Michael had never been, so it seemed like a great idea. As we approached Yosemite valley from the south, I began to wonder - what if it isn't as beautiful as I remember? If those ubiquitous Yosemite photos tainted my memory, that the reality would lessen in beauty. As we drove through the Yosemite valley tunnel (or whatever it's called), and then pulled over to take in the scope of Yosemite valley with El Cap and Half-Dome filling our vision, I was reassured. Yes, we WERE in one of the most magical and beautiful places in the world.
The plan for the weekend - to enjoy one night of luxury and then follow it up with two days of outdoorsy adventure! Our first night, we stayed at Yosemite Lodge and ate at the Ahwahnee, feasting on red wine and red meat (fancy-schmancy!). On Friday, the outdoor adventures started - we went to Badger Pass, the ski "resort" in Yosemite. There must be all of 6 different runs, so we aren't talking Vail, Aspen, Mammoth or anything of that ilk. Despite the temptation to downhill, we opted for nordic skiing - there is a trail that is a great out-and-back. Well, "great" when the ski conditions are. While we enjoyed the milder conditions, they were not conducive to a perfect ski day since it was icy in some patches and almost slushy in others. Still, we skied about 5-6 miles and then ended the afternoon's adventures with french fries and beer. Fun times!
The next day, we decided to hang out in the Valley (of Yosemite), do an easy hike to see some of the falls, take a nap in our lovely "heated tent", rest and relax. The original plan for the day was to hike a mile or so up part of the Yosemite Falls trail. The trail, by the way, is one of Yosemite's oldest trails, built back in the 19th Century (1873-1877). Somehow, that first, low-key plan changed, not by conscious choice, rather we just continued past the lookout and hiked all the way up to the falls. This feat would normally be impossible in January, but the warmer temperatures that plagued our skiing played to our favor for the hike. Michael, apparently, expected me to demand that we turn around at some point, but by the time we hit snow fields, we were so seemingly so close to the top. Finally, about 3.5 miles and 2,700 feet UP later, we sat on a rock, rested, munched on bread, cheese and apples, and looked out on the scenery below and beyond us and felt much accomplished as we had hiked the trail leading up to the top of North America's tallest waterfall!
Mike on the way up:
Tired but happy:
The hike to the top of the falls was a challenge, but nothing in comparison to the even LOOONGGGER walk down. We walked straight off the trailhead and into the bar where we quaffed down a beer and scarfed down some chips and salsa. Later, we ate pizza and tucked into bed around 7:30 pm! We woke up Sunday to aching legs and a crazy winter storm, yet managed to leave the park on the early side. If I hadn't HAD to work on Monday, I would have happily played. Yosemite was beautiful with the fresh snow:
To close: "I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in." (John Muir, of course!)