Wednesday morning we headed to Yosemite and were there until Saturday afternoon. I think we could have stayed a week longer, it was so amazing. When we got there we had a long drive into the valley so we took a detour up to Glacier Point, an overlook down to the valley. It was breathtaking. Half Dome is completely inspiring and to see it up close was absolutely amazing. We spent a little while there, taking pictures and then took a small hike (4.5 miles) to the top of Sentinel Dome where you can get a 360 degree panoramic view of Yosemite. Just beautiful. Eric said at this point that we could go home, because it couldn't get any more beautiful then where we were.
Then we headed down into the valley and checked into our hotel. Which did not have air conditioning...ummm...haven't I already mentioned the record highs??? :) Our hotel room was over 100 and there were not windows because of the bears and animals...we did have some vents and a fan that when we were in the room could open the door and bring in some of the cooler air. We found out our first night we had to be careful and two raccoons were just about to walk into our room and Eric started yelling at them to get out.
We went on a nother short (4 mile) hike up to the bottom of Upper Yosemite Falls...I wouldn't recommend this one for the weak. It was 1.5 mile up the side of a cliff! About 2 hours of stair climbing. I felt better at altitude but the hike was tough. We made it to see the falls (the 5th largest in the word), but it was another 1.5 miles straight up to the top of the falls and we were pretty tired. We came back down and got in the hotel pool to cool off and relax a bit before heading to dinner.
Our next day we woke up early (7am), and went for our longer hike up towards Half Dome. We went up past Vernal and Nevada falls and then about a mile further before turning around. Again this hike was tought. Another two hours of stair master, but so worth it. We took the Mist Trail up and the John Muir trail back down and the falls were beautiful. The Mist trail goes right up the side of the falls so you get sprayed with water from the falls, so relaxing and we got to see some rainbows. Overall, it took us 6 hours to do the 8 miles, but we stopped for lunch at the top and hung out for a while. We tooled around the valley when we got back, watch a movie on Yosemite at the Visitor Center (air condintioned!) and walked to Lower Yosemite Falls.
On our next day we headed up to Toulemme Meadows, on the way we stopped to get a campsite for the night and did a hike up to May Lake (2.4 miles). By now we were at 10000ft and the altitude change was hard again. The lake was so blue and clear and there was still snow up there even though it was 80 degrees! After the May Lake trip we continued to the Meadows and did the 4.5 mile hike to Elizabeth Lake. By far the best hike. It was absolutely beautiful the entire time. However, when we got to the lake we got eaten alive by mosquitos...so we had to turn back sooner than we would have liked. This was the only time that the mosquitos were bad. After we got back we tooled around the meadows (FLAT and beautiful) and then headed back to camp and made some freeze dried meals and called it a day.
We woke up the next morning to 48 degree temps!! Partially because the heat wave was ending and partially because we were at 9000 feet. But it was way welcomed from the previous week of being hot. This was our last day and we went back to the meadows for a longer 7 mile hike to Cathedral Lake. This was the best place for me. The hike wasn't as beautiful as Elizabeth Lake but when we got to Cathedral lake, the scenery just blew me away. It opened up to a huge meadow and glacier rock to the side and cathedral peak in the back, just breathtaking. After our hike, we paid $4 each to shower and headed back to San Fran (took 5 hours), ate some dinner and took the red eye back home.
This was an absolutely amazing trip. Just beautiful. I don't know how we will find another place like it. It is so cool how there are so many different types of environments there, it is just unreal.
Well, this was long enough...I am happy to be home but also wished we could have spend more time.
Oh and did I mention we saw a baby black bear!!! So cool!!!