Experiencing new things is good for the soul, so each and every month we try to broaden our horizons by going on a "wild adventure". In October, Kyle & I went to Yosemite for the first time and absolutely loved it. Words cannot describe the breath-taking beauty found at the park. Heck, pictures hardly do it justice. Yosemite is 750,000 acres of picturesque scenery and wilderness that you truly have to see to believe. We barely scratched the surface during our 4-day stint, but what we did see, we want to share with you.
Day 1 - Pohono Trail (The Backwoods)
Starting Point: Bridalveil Falls
Trek: 7-8ish miles (mostly uphill)
Elevation: 7,500 feet
End Point/Campsite: Bridalveil Creek
Day 1 was rough. Pohono Trail is an east-west hike along Yosemite Valley's south rim. Now, everything you read about this trail tells you to take a bus up to Glacier Point and hike to Tunnel View, but Kyle and I are "go big or go home" kind of people, so we decided to do it backwards. AKA the hard way.
Parking was a bit difficult, but we ended up snagging 1 of only 3 spots across the street from the Bridalveil Falls parking lot (which doesn't allow overnight parking), and caught an unmarked trailhead about a quarter mile up the road.
Almost immediately we were rewarded with a gorgeous stretch of Tunnel View. Thank goodness for the views because the hike was no joke. It was hours of climbing up and up and up. And just when you think there isn't possibly anything higher, you climb some more.
Not only did Kyle & I have the bright idea of taking on this strenuous hike with virtually zero training, but we were also carrying packs with all of our camping gear and 2 days worth of water. We didn't actually weigh our packs (I'm not sure I'd really want to know how heavy mine was), but I can guarantee you we were trekking around with AT LEAST 75 pounds of combined weight on our backs. That's hard enough just hiking straight, but doing that with a 4,000 foot elevation gain straight up the mountain? Talk about brutal.
At one point, I was moving so slowly that Kyle grabbed my pack on a break and trudged along with BOTH of our packs - his on his back and mine strapped to the front of him. Ladies, THIS is a gentleman. I know he was suffering, but the man knows a thing or two about chivalry (boys, take note), and I was so thankful for a break.
There were several vista points along our journey this first day, which broke up the hike really nicely. We didn't stop at Inspiration Point very long, but we did take some time to soak in the scenery at Crocker Point and Dewey Point.
Gorgeous. Vast. Expansive. Stunning. I can't quite figure out a word that encompasses everything that Yosemite is and how it makes you feel. But one thing is for sure, anytime I'm in nature, it keeps me humble. Nothing like staring out over hundreds of thousands of acres of forest to put you in your place and remind you of how little your problems are, and for that I thank you, Mother Nature.
The other great thing about doing this hike "backwards" is that there is NOBODY else on the trail. I think we saw 4 people the whole day, and 2 of them were park rangers. There's something about being alone in nature with nothing but the sound of the birds and your footsteps that is so soothing, so mind-clearing. It has a medicinal, healing affect. If you're ever in a bad mood or need to decompress, I highly recommend hiking. Especially in an uncrowded area - so good for the soul.
There's one thing about the mileage signs at Yosemite, and that is they are all liars. You'll see a sign saying your destination is only 0.4 miles ahead, then you'll walk for 10 minutes and see another sign that says your same destination is only 0.4 miles ahead. Whatever the sign says, I'd tack on at least a half mile to a mile more than it claims.
So after hours and hours of hiking uphill with heavy packs, and reaching the last vista point of the day, we were so ready to be at the campsite. We were camping at Bridalveil Creek, which was *supposed* to be just 1 mile away. We were finally on flat ground and hauling, and that "1 mile" took about 45 minutes, but we managed to reach the creek with about an hour left of daylight. This gave us plenty of time to set up our tent and make dinner. We tried so so hard to build a fire, but Yosemite had received a record amount of rain the previous 4 days, so unfortunately the wood was just too wet to light.
The Bridalveil Creek area was beautiful and secluded. And we had the loveliest roar of the rushing water as our background music all night.
Now, here's the thing - the thing that frightened me most about backwoods hiking and camping. At Yosemite, there are black bears. And black bears are very hungry creatures with an insane sense of smell and claws and teeth that can rip your insides apart. The park makes you use a bear canister to put all of your food and toiletries and anything that could possibly smell like food to a bear - chapstick, contact solution, hand sanitizer, anything. Now my idea was to put that sucker as far away from our tent as possible, but the park rangers instruct you to put it fairly close so you can hear when the bear comes and scare him away. Um, what? I quickly dubbed that Kyle's job and did not leave the tent until it was light out. Luckily, we didn't have any middle of the night visitors, and we lived to tell about our backwoods camping experience.
The weather was perfect during the day - sunny and 50's-60's, but man oh man did the temperature drop quickly once the sun went down. We read it was 18 degrees at night, which is entirely possible given the amount of ice on our tent and frost on the bridge the next day.
Day 1 was challenging, but most good things in life are. Those vista points that overlooked Yosemite Valley meant 1,000 times more to us because we worked our butts off to see them. We pushed our muscles to the max. We persevered even though our entire bodies ached. We braved the cold. I faced my fear of bears. We did something completely new and outside our comfort zone. This day challenged us physically and emotionally, and I couldn't be more proud.
Stay tuned for Part II