This is the maiden voyage of my adventure journal, strap yourself in.
This past weekend my buddy Aaron and I decided to make a day trip to Yosemite National Park for a day of hiking, photography, and a lot of driving. We prepared the night before by making some PB & J sandwiches, drinking some IPAs(we do that anyways but this seemed like a good time as well), and planning our routes and hikes. We left the next day (Saturday) at 4am on the nose and made the long trek to Merced. We made it to Merced in about 3.5 hours and ate some breakfast at a little mom and pop food place called McDonald's. You heard it here first, they're going to blow up soon.
We made it into Yosemite Valley around 9:30am and after I paid for a year pass, to give myself more reasons to go this year, we stopped at Tunnel View and let the beauty of the valley soak in. This was Aaron's first trip and you have to start it off right. After a few minutes of photos and being awestruck by the sheer magnitude and wonder that looking into the valley invokes, we made it to the valley floor and found some parking and our adventure was off and running.
We walked to Yosemite Village and stopped off at the Ansel Adams Gallery first to show Aaron some of the works of my favorite photographer, ever. As it turns out, February 20th is his birthday and that was exactly when we were there. That was the cherry on top to this trip. After that we hiked over to Lower Yosemite Falls and I set up to take a few pictures of the falls and watch a lot of tourists almost fall off a log in front of the waterfall.
After a while of waiting to get some shots in, we turned around and hiked back out into a field where we had a stunning view of Half Dome. I manned my tripod while Aaron relaxed and we took a mid-day break for some lunch-type activities. There is nothing better than eating lunch in a field with a view of Half Dome. We saddled up after that and took the shuttle to the other end of the valley and hiked around the trail head of Vernal Falls and Happy Isles. We just sat near the river for a while and took some photos and admired the towering granite cliffs behind Happy Isles.
We ended up walking to the Mirror Lake trail head because it wasn't too far away, and spent the next hour hiking that and taking great photos of the lake. PSA: Don't throw rocks in the water when people are taking pictures or say anything is "fuego"...please. We finished the hike and took the shuttle back to our car. I was debating on trying to get some photos of El Capitan by itself but we decided to head for Tunnel View to set up for some sunset shots. We drove past the line/parking for Fire Falls (Horse Tail Falls) and it was CrAzY BUSY. So, I thought Tunnel View wouldn't have as many people... I was wrong.
After some finesse and maneuvering, I was able to get a spot right on the wall with the 800 other photographers (rough estimate...kidding) to take some photos as the sunset behind us over the valley. There was someone with a large format camera taking photos of the valley, watching it develop right there was pretty cool. The sun dropped and so did the temperature but we just piled on more layers and sucked it up until the sun was completely gone. We ended up talking with another photographer from Chico! Small world. We ended the evening being stuck in gridlock traffic in the valley for an hour (thanks Horse Tail Falls) and getting back home around 1am.
All in all, the day couldn't have been any better except for the traffic at the end. The weather was great and so was the company and the scenery. I plan on making quite a few more visits to Yosemite this year. Thanks for taking the time to keep up on my journeys, can't wait for the next one!