Friday, July 24, 2020


Paul and I took an anniversary trip to Yosemite! We both love to hike, and Yosemite opened up with 50% capacity at the beginning of June.  While we were there, the park was so empty, and it ended up being the perfect time to visit!

 Grandma and Grandpa T generously spoiled our three cubs (see the next post for what they were up to!) while we hiked in the mountains for a week!  It was truly amazing to be in the great outdoors with my favorite person!  As Paul and I explored the AMAZING views, we realized there was NO WAY to capture Yosemite in pictures.  We found that mini video clips showed the height, grandeur, perspective, etc much better.  So we actually took over 100 mini video clips to try and "bring home our experiences".  I shortened and compiled several of these clips for a highlight reel video.  It really captures what we saw MUCH better than the following pictures will.  Here it is!

The following, then, is a collection of pictures, and more of a travel journal narrative to help me remember our trip.   The highlight views were captured much better in the above video, but below I summarize what each of our days looked like, along with a few pictures from each day.

Travel Day:

We got upgraded to 1st class because our flight was so empty!
Beautiful rainbow at takeoff!

 We rented the basement apartment of a couple who lived in Yosemite West (and who also gave great hiking recommendations).  We stocked up on groceries and cooked delicious breakfasts including pancakes and omelets,  we packed up PBJ's and our favorite hiking snacks for the trail, hiked all day, and Paul grilled dinner for us each night.

Paul's favorite hiking snack was fruit snacks :-) 
We got all of our fruit for the week and many of our veggies at this fruit stand!

Day 1: Yosemite Falls Hike and Yosemite Point

Our first day, we hiked the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail, played on the rocks and in the pools at the top, and then hiked up to Yosemite Point.

We started in the valley, climbed up the tree line switch backs, and ended up in the pools at the top of the falls.  Then we continued to the right of this picture to Yosemite Point.

 We climbed about 3000 feet in elevation, and every few switchbacks, we had to stop and enjoy the increasingly better/higher view!

Each day we found a BEAUTIFUL lookout to enjoy our PBJ's :-).  Our quiet, conversation filled, beautiful view lunches were some of my favorite parts of our trip!
When we got to the top, it was a super fun surprise - there were a ton of quiet small pools of water!  
It was so fun to climb around on the rocks and cool off in the water!

I wished I had brought my swimsuit (and after the first day, I carried my suit in my backpack so I could jump in future water we found!), but Paul jumped in, and I went in up to my knees!  The cold water felt INCREDIBLE after a day of hot hiking!

The background of this picture is where the falls drop over the edge to start cascading down the mountain!

 We continued hiking about a mile further to get to Yosemite Point....

Looking out at half dome- goal - summit THAT on day 3!
Paul pointing to the top of where we will hike on day 3!

The view on the hike down was just as pretty as the light of the sun was catching the views in different ways.

Day 2  Glacier Point Hike and Tuolumne Grove

Our second day, in the morning, we hiked up to Glacier Point and back down, and then drove to Tuolumne Grove to admire the giant Sequoias.

We started at the Four Mile Trailhead to get to Glacier Point, which climbs 3000+ feet in 4.6 miles of switchbacks up the mountain.

Paul's favorite trail snack - fruit snacks!

Near the top of the mountain, it got very wooded. We were amazed at the size of the sugar pine cones!

The view from Glacier Point
Partway back down the mountain, we found a super great flat rock to sit on for lunch with an AMAZING view!
 We decided to spend the rest of our day exploring the Tuolumne Grove, our first of several areas where we got to see giant Sequoias!

We climbed inside this giant hollowed out Sequoia!

Look at the roots on this fallen Sequoia!  This is the one we climbed inside.

Day 3: Half Dome

Our third day, we summited half dome!  At 11 hours, 21 miles, and 5000 feet of elevation gain, it was our most challenging (and most rewarding!) day.  I also conquered my fear of heights on both the subdome and using the cables to climb the 45 degree angle of the final stretch (While we couldn't video while we were climbing because we needed both hands, this video shows the final stretch of the climb.)

I took this picture from our Yosemite Falls hike on day 1, but I will use it to describe today's goal.  We started in the Valley on the right middle of the picture, climbed past two waterfalls (you can see one of them in the middle right of the picture).  Then we climbed behind half dome and came up the back side.  The final portion was so steep that we used cables to help pull ourselves up. Keep reading to see pictures of us standing on top of this giant rock dome.

The hike to the subdome was beautiful, as we got to enjoy both Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls, then a beautiful meadow with a creek running through it, and finally a wooded portion of the hike.  The subdome was one of the most challenging portions for me because it was steep and there wasn't much to hold on to, but by far I was most nervous about the cables.  I NEVER would have done this portion without Paul!  It ended up being REALLY fun and I would totally do it again.  The view at the top was amazing too!

We got up at 4am to get as much of the hike done as we could before the sun got really hot.  See half dome in the very middle of the picture?

Vernal Falls

Nevada Falls

I like this next view of half dome from our hike up.  The hike brought us around the right side of the picture, then we climbed up the subdome (the right hump of the picture behind the pine tree) and back down, and then we used the cables (circled) to climb the steep incline up to the top.

Here we are facing the cables portion of the climb as were were about to climb off the subdome and begin our final ascent on half dome.  This is the portion that is circled in the last picture.  The last bit of the climb is so steep, that they put poles in the side of the mountain and attached cables that you can hold/use to pull yourself up.  There are 2x4 wood pieces put above each set of poles, so that every 10 feet or so you can rest before making your way to the next wood piece.  This youtube video kind of shows what it is like to climb using the cables.....

On top of half dome! 

So crazy!

When we got back down to the meadows/creek area, we couldn't resist getting in to cool off!

The waterfalls looked cool on the way down too!

For the last 13 years, we have made it a point to kiss on every walking bridge....the kids enjoyed anticipating and "reminding" us when we were in Yellowstone, so I took this picture to send to them :-).

Day 4: Rest Day and Tioga Road

Our fourth day, we slept in and made a big brunch, and then left the valley for the day and drove along the Tioga Road, to see the northern portion of the park.  We stopped at several points for amazing lookouts. We also did a short hike to Elizabeth Lake, which was gorgeous!  My favorite part of today was seeing mountain lakes!

Day 5: Taft Point and Sentinal Dome

Our fifth day we hiked to Taft Point and hiked up Sentinal Dome (what turned out to be my favorite viewing area for Yosemite Valley).  We spent the afternoon exploring the Yosemite Valley paths and climbing around the base of El Capitan.
Taft Point Hike
Taft Point

Giant Crevices around Taft Point (don't fall in!)

Sentinal Point looking out at El Capitan

Sentinal Point looking out at North Dome and Basket Dome (left) and Half Dome (right).

Our gorgeous lunch spot on top of Sentinal Dome
 In the afternoon, we explored the valley floor.  Up until this day, we had spent most of our time in the valley hiking the peaks, and viewing the valley from above, but it was really fun to explore the valley floor, and look up at the peaks.

El Capitan in the background of this next picture.  While neither of us have anywhere close to the experience to be able to summit something like this, we had a lot of fun hiking around the base of El Capitan and imagining the climbers that spend 3-4 days climbing this giant wall, bringing 100lbs of water with them, along with their food, and sleeping hanging from the wall! 

Bridal Veil Falls

Day 6: Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias

Our 6th day we explored the historical buildings originally found in Yosemite Valley (but then moved), and spent the rest of the day in Mariposa Grove in awe of the Sequoias, and hiking to Mariposa Point.

These two Sequoias have been growing next to each other for hundreds of years, and at some point merged!  We probably won't make it to our 600th wedding anniversary....but we will until death do us part!

Mariposa Point

Our first trip dinner that Paul didn't grill for us!  We stayed the last two nights in a hotel close to the airport, as the second evening we would get up before 4am to catch our flight!  

Day 7: Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon

Our 7th day, we explored Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park.  Both had awesome Sequoias, mountains, and beautiful views!

Tunnel Rock near the entrance of Sequoia National Park.

Hospital Rock, with hieroglyphics on the side.

At the top of Moro Rock

Parker Grove

Tunnel Log

Crescent Meadow

I loved hiking this quiet trail and getting away from the crowds!

Tharps Log (Tharp made a house in 1861 out of a fallen hallowed out Sequioa...see the tree extending to the right of the picture?) 

Inside Tharp's house

Side view of Tharps house

Paul's highlight - seeing the biggest tree in the world, by volume.  See the next picture below for dimensions....

Outdoor lunch in Grant Grove Village

Beginning the beautiful drive into Kings Canyon

Last Day:

We got up at 4 am and walked 15 minutes to the airport, and after one layover, were very excited to see our kiddos again!  Summer has requested to write her first blog post, about their time with Grandma and Grandpa T, so check back for her first addition to the family blog, coming shortly!


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