Yosemite National Park, California

Travel is not always easy, sometimes it's messy, complicated and it can even be disappointing. As you all know, I love to travel - I even more than love it, but unfortunately, I am not the best planner and don't always make the right decision (well, nobody's perfect). For the 4th of July weekend, G. and I decided to go to Mammoth Lakes (little story here) and Yosemite National Park. Like the Grand Canyon, I have been wanting to go there since the first time I came to Cali, but haven't had the chance to do so until last month.

As you might have read it in my Mammoth story, we split our time between Yosemite and Mammoth and only had one day to stay in Yosemite. One day is obviously not enough time and don't get me wrong, I knew that one day wouldn't be enough to see everything. However, I still had a list of point of views that I wanted to see and I was really hoping to hit them all. You know, by arriving super early and leaving late, that would be tiring but feasible, right? In theory, that could have worked. Little did I know that we picked the worse weekend to go - never again I am visiting anything on the 4th of July. It was so crowded that we literally stuck in the car for about an hour and a half. By the time we found parking and took the shuttle, we lost more than two hours and a half before we were able to start exploring. To be short, at the end of the day, we had barely seen anything. I knew that anything worth seeing in Yosemite requires time and energy; but even though, I was really hoping that I would have done more than what we were able to. So this day was very frustrating for me - we did all this way, spend time, energy and barely saw anything. It can be ok and I wouldn't even mind sometimes, but when you only have one day, well that's a problem. So yes, sometimes travel is not easy and doesn't always turned out as expected, but well, so is life. 

I still had a good time - this park is so so beautiful; I really wasn't expecting so much beauty. G. and I, were still able to see wonderful point of views and I absolutely don't regret it. It is just a lesson for me to learn and plan better. But mistakes are part of life, otherwise how boring it would be. So this post is not going to be about what to visit/see in the park, because well, I haven't been there long enough and done enough to be capable of giving any advice; it will just be another little story of one of my trips.

Yosemite is located about 5/6 hours North of LA. We did the road in two parts as we were staying in Mammoth and from there, the park was only about an hour away. I do recommend staying in Mammoth if you don't want to camp in the park (and if it's the summer - the East entrance of the park being closed during winter).  

* First stop - on the road:
I have to precise that we knew that it was going to be crowded (just not that crowded), so with that in mind, we decided to wake up super early to have the time to see as much as possible. We entered the park through the Tioga Pass Entrance (closed from November to March) which is on the East side of the park. As mentioned earlier, Yosemite was only an hour from Mammoth, so we reached the park pretty quickly. The road as always, was gorgeous and we had to stop to capture some of its beauty. These landscapes make me love the U.S nature more and more and I don't understand how can anyone have enough of it.

Even though we left early, we only arrived at the park around 10:00AM and there was already a long line to enter. We waited about 15/20 minutes - it was ok, we admired the view around and took silly pictures of us to pass the time. The entrance is $30 dollars and is valid for seven days. I mentioned it before, but if you're planning to visit several national parks, it's good to get the beautiful pass; it's $80 and you can visit as many parks as you want within a year.

The Tioga Road allows you to cross the whole park horizontaly which is pretty amazing. We drove all the way from the entrance to the Yosemite Valley, which is located on the West side and is the center point of the park if we can say it like this. There, you will find all the buses and shuttles to get around. We decided to not stop and drive straight to the valley to beat the crowd, but unfortunately, by the time we got there, it was already so crowded that we stuck in traffic... and that's where the none fun part began. I'm mistaken; before that, we did stop (not sure of the name, but really close to the valley) to admire the view, a relaxing and a beautiful little river.

After we stuck in our car for about a good hour, we finally found a spot on the side of the road and parked right away. We were kind of lucky because our parking was right next to a shuttle stop so we didn't have to walk much. We used the El Capitan shuttle (not in service during winter) to get around - it does a pretty big circle and hit all the major spots. The problem once again, is that this shuttle only comes every 30 minutes and was very late because of traffic (so, yes more waiting for us). The last shuttle was pretty early (it only runs until 5:00PM), so we had to be careful not to miss it and not walk several miles back to our car (the joy of visiting a national park haha). We first stopped next to the hotel because we needed a bathroom and some food. As the bus to get back to the valley was taking so long to come, we walked a little bit around and found a beautiful valley. Everything is so huge in this park, this is just impressive and really beautiful - it makes you feel so little. I did not expect that much beauty and diversity: you literally have mountains, waterfalls, valleys, lakes, rivers, etc., it can please anyone. 

On the last photo above, we can see a bit of the Half Dome (one popular rock to see in the park). A better and more beautiful view of it can be seen at the Glacier Point (which is the most popular point and THE one to see - I do have to precise that we of course, didn't have the time to. Yes, this trip has not been the most successful one...)
After just driving around with the shuttle, we decided to stop and hike to the Bridalveil fall. You're going to laugh (or maybe you won't, but that does make me laugh), this was not on my list. I told you, I am a very good planner :). Anyway, at the beginning of the trail, there is a view of El Capitan, another famous rock of the park. It's very impressive. There is a hike where it can be seen closer (called the El Capitan hike or something pretty close to it), it's probably very good, but I can't tell for sure, because, you know and I'm sure you guessed it, I haven't done it haha. 

This hike is really short and easy (not like the Yosemite Waterfalls hike are apparently are). But nonetheless, the view was beautiful. I was impressed by it and certainly don't regret walking all the way to see it. We (once again) went beyond what's safe to see it a little closer. Yes, I was scared (again) and actually slipped and fell on my knees in the water. Nothing bad happened, I just got a very nice swelling afterwards. But anyway, I am glad we went closer - there was a little natural pool where it is possible to swim. The water was very cold, but just sitting there with the sound of the waterfall felt rewarding and so relaxing. 

One the way back, surprise, surprise, but there was no shuttle anymore and we had to walk back to the car. It was maybe about a mile, I cannot tell for sure. It wasn't that far, but it did feel like an eternity. We were tired, my shoes were full of water, but once again, the view was beautiful, so that makes everything ok. There is this quote that I love and that I feel describe this moment particularly well: "At the end of the day, your feet should be dirty, your hair messy and your eyes sparkling". Yes, it was not the best day ever, and it was kind of a failure, but it was pretty amazing at the same time and I did make lifetime memories and have stories that I will love telling. Each travel is unique and it doesn't matter if it goes as planned or not, it's an adventure and each adventure are worthy and needs to be lived.

* Last stop: Tenaya Lake
After we found our car back, we decided to skip the Glacier point - we had to cross all the park to get back to Mammoth and it was already pretty late (and the traffic was still bad so we did not want to risk and be stuck again). I feel pretty lucky to actually have crossed the park twice. Even though we didn't stop everywhere, I still feet like we saw a lot of it. Our last stop was at the Tenaya Lake. The sun was going down, it was so quiet and peaceful, there couldn't have been a more perfect ending to this day. No matter how things go, sometimes in life, you just need to sit and enjoy the moment. Nothing more.

I don't have as many beautiful pictures as I would have liked (or as I imagined I would), but I am very grateful that I got the chance to explore this amazing place a little bit. And if I know one thing for sure, it's that I am going to be back for you Yosemite, because I know that you offer so much more; I promise. 

- Love, Célia * 

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