Yosemite National Park is a place every one MUST visit in their lifetime. It is SO spectacular! We had the best day in the park and luckily the weather cleared up (no snow, unlike in Sequoia). Since we had the time change working in our favor to be up early, we left for the park at 3:30 am to make it for sunrise at Tunnel View and to beat the crowds. This was the BEST decision!
Side note, we arrived for the sunrise and it was SO cold. Like 20 degrees cold (in April)! We had over an hour to wait for the sun to come up, so, while Jon stood outside in the freezing cold/windy air, I sat in the car with the heat on and ate breakfast (#priorities). This is yet another example of how tough and dedicated Jon is. He stands fiercely for what and those he cares for. He stood outside, freezing, to capture the first glimpse of the sun shining onto Yosemite Valley while I sat all warm and cozy in the car. Man, do I love my husband! We have him to thank for these amazing photos (but I captured the best one with him in it). 😉
On another note, I packed a variety of layers for this trip (fleece buffs, gloves, hats, warm pull-overs and raincoats). Jon and I both wore every. single. layer. In the beginning of the day we had on everything and as it warmed up, we slowly peeled off the cozy layers. April in the Sierra’s is still winter (which surprised me). Because of the high altitude, ice and snow are expected into May! So, if you plan a springtime visit; take our advice and pack layers! Also, we didn’t end up needing our snow chains, after all. 🙂
Obviously the sunrise was stunning; watching the sun breathe life into the valley below was unlike any other sunrise I’ve experienced (I did actually get out of the warm car to watch). Tunnel View is a stunner no matter when you see it, but there is a certain magic that comes from watching the sun’s first rays illuminate the steep valley walls and gleam onto the valley floor. It was a magical first glimpse at a truly, breathtaking place.
See what I mean?! Our head start on the day helped to make the rest of the day run smoothly. We were the only people at Bridal Veil Falls and Lower Yosemite Falls when we went to visit (it was so easy to park and view, which is rare). It was so great to see these sights without the crowds.
We ended up leaving our car parked at Yosemite Falls and taking the bus to the Vernal Falls trail head, mid-morning. This is when the crowds started to arrive and our pace slowed down.
The hike to Vernal Falls was moderate (paved but uphill most of the way). Once we got to the falls, we decided not to trek up the stone steps that are covered in mist from the waterfall because they were a sheet of ice (#safetyfirst). We enjoyed the view of the falls from the bottom (still amazingly beautiful) and ate for our picnic lunch.
Side note: “Popped” have to be my most favorite hiking snack and how about that view!?
After Vernal Falls and our lunch with a view, we made our way to Mirror Lake via the trail on the valley floor and then to the Majestic Hotel. The hotel was amazing; it was so neat to see! We then made our way back to the car and headed home. We were exhausted and mystified by our day in Yosemite. It is an incredible park!
Yosemite Valley has been made super-accessible. I can see how people mis-judge the wildness of the park just based off their experience on the valley floor. At times, it almost felt like an outdoor version of Disney World because it was so visitor friendly. Our day in the valley was amazing, but we know we were in the “tourist trap” of the park. Next time, we hope to explore a bit more but will do so with a rich respect for nature and the wildness of the Sierra’s.
K, J and P