When I first met Sarah she was shocked that I had never visited Yosemite National Park and she promised to take me as soon as possible. Unfortunately life got busy and it took us over two years to get there. The timing was great though: we got to experience epic Spring waterfalls and I was able to surprise Sarah by asking her to marry me!
Yosemite National Park -- April 2017
Today was the day! After almost three years of living in Northern California I have finally made it to the world-renowned Yosemite National Park! After a truly massive winter Sarah and I are very excited to see the enormous waterfalls fed by the literal mountains of melt-water (so much in fact that there are concerns they may need to close Yosemite Valley due to flooding tomorrow). I am also secretly excited to ask Sarah to marry me, hopefully in a private, picturesque setting on our hike tomorrow. The weather and flood warnings are concerning, but hopefully it will work out!
We didn't get out the door as early as we planned this morning, but we really needed the extra sleep since we just got back from Europe six days ago. We stopped for lunch on the way at an El Pollo Loco (another first for me) and arrived at the park mid-afternoon.
For this trip we're car-camping at Hodgdon Meadow Campground, just inside the Big Oak Flat entrance to the park. The sites are nice enough, although ours has a severe lack of level surfaces for our tent. We picked up some firewood and set up our camp and then went for a short walk down to the meadow. It's a gorgeous spot.
After our walk I got the fire going and we roasted up some nice hot dogs which we ate with baked beans, onions, and peppers. We also had some fancy tea and pistachio-clotted cream biscuits from Fortnum & Mason. As we finished dinner it started raining so we quickly cleaned up and retreated to our tent. We spent the evening playing board games, chatting, and enjoying some single-cask whisky from Edradour.
Last night was a bit of a struggle, as our tent's orientation and the slope of the ground combined to cause us to spend a lot of time sliding down to the bottom of our tent. Despite the poor sleep we bounced out of bed in good time and started to prepare for our day of adventure in Yosemite Valley.
I made a small fire which we used to heat up and grill some hearty breakfast burritos (prepared in advance). They were delicious!! After breakfast we rotated our tent to a (hopefully) better orientation for tonight. Then we packed up some supplies for the day and got in the car to drive down to the valley. As part of my preparation I sneakily hid the engagement ring in one of the zippered pockets of my sweater. I had hoped to bring the box too, but although it's a very nice box, it's also huge! I couldn't hide it anywhere so I left it at the campsite and just kept the ring naked in the very safe pocket.
The day was still a bit rainy with heavy, low cloud cover this morning. The views as we drove were mostly obscured, but just as we arrived into the valley the clouds parted and the sun came out. We were treated to fantastic views of mountains, waterfalls, and nature.
Our first stop was to see Bridalveil Falls, where we fought for parking and then did a short walk to the base of the 617' tall cascade of water. The volume was insane, flooding out sections of the access trail at the bottom. The spray was intense too.
Next we headed further into the valley and parked in a lot under Half Dome. From there we began our hike up Mist Trail to see Vernal Falls. The hike was gorgeous, and Vernal Falls was as raging as Bridalveil. We were completely soaked by the time we reached the top, but it was nice and sunny so we spread out on some rocks to dry in the sun while eating our packed lunch.
Our plan was to continue a bit further along the trail to see Nevada Falls from a distance and then head back to the car via the John Muir trail. Originally we thought we might go to the top of Nevada as well, but we started out too late to make it back before dark. Before turning back along John Muir trail I wanted to find a nice, secluded, private spot to surprise Sarah with the ring. There were tons of people at the top of Vernal Falls so I complained a lot until I got Sarah to abandon our sunny spot and continue hiking. Further along I spotted a side-trail created by run-off that led to the top of a tall rock. I strongly suggested we check it out and I was delighted to find that no one else was up there and that it was a lovely spot to sit and enjoy the scenery. After chatting a while I asked Sarah to marry me and she said yes!
We took a few pictures to commemorate the occasion and then began our hike back. John Muir trail gave us some excellent views of all the waterfalls and the valley and mountains. We really enjoyed it. Once we reached the car we entered the line of traffic trying to get out of the valley (despite being early in the season, it's already super busy). On our way out we stopped at a few more viewpoints, enjoying the setting sun on all the amazing scenery.
Back at camp we made some tea and then started making dinner. Tonight we had chili (pre-made at home) with wine and we also made some apple crumble roasted on the fire in tin foil. We spent the evening chatting and enjoying the fire, and then retired to our better-oriented tent.
This morning we slept in a little, then got up and had a quick breakfast of coffee and oatmeal. It was sunny so we hung up our sleeping bags and the tent fly to air out and then went for a short hike on Hodgdon Meadow.
After the hike we packed up the car and then drove a few miles out of the park to do a four mile hike to see the smaller, but still beautiful, Carlon Falls. With all the extra melt-water it was going pretty well, and the hike in along forest-fire scarred trails was quite interesting too (it was somewhat affected by the infamous Rim Fire).
We ate some light snacks back at the car and then started the long drive home. We stopped for a lovely lunch on the patio at the Cottonwood Cafe in Oakdale and then did the rest of the trip in a single push. Back in San Francisco we spent the evening calling family members to tell them the good news.
This was a fantastic first trip to Yosemite for me and I hope to go again soon!!