Tag Archives: Hiking

The Pacific Coast Highway and Big Sur

30 Nov

Waaaaay back in June (6 months ago! Eek!) Nicola came to visit us in San Francisco on her way to a wedding. She only had a couple of days and had already done a lot of the touristy stuff, so we decided to drive down to Big Sur.

Day 1

It was overcast when we started our trip. Our first stop was Moss Landing, where we saw otters floating on their backs and a bunch of different birds. Oh, and a decomposing sea lion. (Nixi has the most amazing vision – we were walking on the beach and she said “is that a dead sea lion?” I kind of squinted off into the distance and was like “nah it’s a log with a seagull on it.”)

We walked to this rock pier where we saw a couple of seals and some fishermen.
IMG_20160613_141437Our next destination was Pebble Beach, which is a golf course so famous that even I’ve heard of it. Turns out it’s also a very scenic 17 mile drive, with the ocean as a spectacular backdrop to the golf greens. It’s a private road so we had to pay an entry fee (I think maybe $5?) which came with a little guide showing us which locations to stop at.

One of the stops was to view the Lone Cypress, which is the tree on all the Pebble Beach merchandise. It was a bitch to get a photo of because we kept getting blocked by a busload of super rude Chinese tourists. But anyway, here’s the tree. I don’t really get it.
IMG_20160613_155954Afterwards we drove to Carmel where we checked into our hotel. The original plan had been to drive to Pfeiffer Beach, but it was almost an hour away and we decided just to wander around downtown Carmel and have an early dinner. None of the restaurants looked appealing, so we grabbed some pizza to eat on the beach. Genius!
IMG_20160613_190901We stuffed ourselves and then walked down the beach to admire the waves.
IMG_20160613_201646And watch the sun set.IMG_20160613_200413
Then it was time to head back to our hotel to get some rest for the next day.

Day 2

In the morning we stopped by Bruno’s Market in Carmel to buy a picnic lunch. Our first stop was Point Lobos State Reserve where we did the Cypress Grove Trail, which was a super quick and easy hike.
IMG_20160614_083551The breathtaking ocean views were a great way to start the morning.
IMG_20160614_083918After that short walk we drove until we reached Bixby Bridge, which is apparently one of the most photographed bridges in California.
IMG_20160614_092027Then it was onto Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park to do the Pfeiffer Falls trail (about 2 miles), which is supposed to be the “must do” hike in the park. It was a nice hike and I’m glad we did it, but I think if you wanted to skip any of the three hikes we did this one would be it.

It was much clearer and sunnier today so we were treated to some wonderful coastline views. It looks just like a painting!
IMG_20160614_111957The main hike of the day was the Ewoldsen Trail (a 4.5 mile loop) at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Seriously, all these parks and beaches are so confusingly named – I gather the Pfeiffers were pretty important.

We started our hike off in the forest:
IMG_20160614_113814Where we found a giant tree bridge:
IMG_20160614_121216At roughly the halfway mark we had our picnic lunch. It was a good thing we had it in the forest because the rest of the hike was in unshaded hills (though we had views of the ocean, so that was nice).
IMG_20160614_125850After we finished our hike we made our way across the street to check out McWay Falls.

The path leading to the overlook:IMG_20160614_14081130 seconds later we arrived! Isn’t this something?
IMG_20160614_141418We’d made pretty good time so decided to stop at Pfeiffer Beach since it was on the way home. When we paid admission the guy warned us that the beach was extremely windy that day. Afterwards we kind of scoffed and were like “pft, we’re Australian – I think we’ve experienced a bit of wind at the beach”

OMG.

It was so fucking windy. Mein hubris!

Every grain of sand became a tiny needle and whenever the wind picked up (which was frequently) we’d get pelted by a giant blanket of sand needles. I huddled into a ball but the sand would still sting the rest of my exposed skin – my neck my ankles, my hands – it was crazy.

We did manage to explore the beach in between cowering from the sand. The water was much too cold to swim or even wade in (for me, anyway – apparently Nixi has feet of titanium) but I really liked the rocks.IMG_20160614_154559Pfeiffer Beach is known for its purple sand (which comes from manganese garnet deposits in the rocks). The sand wasn’t uniformly purple – only parts of it, and only noticeable when wet. You can see some in the foreground of this photo:
IMG_20160614_155106We saw a lot of beautiful scenery that day and Pfeiffer Beach still managed to be memorable. I bet it’s gorgeous at sunset.IMG_20160614_160025Check out our built in shoe storage:
IMG_20160614_160736Then it was time to brush the sand off our feet (and hands, and face) and start the long drive home. We did stop at In N Out for dinner, because what better way to finish off the quintessential Californian road trip. =)

It’s a super gorgeous drive, especially if it is sunny. There are so many beaches to stop at, and little roadside stands selling fruit, and you feel so outdoorsy and wholesome even though you’re in a car. I’m glad we did it mid-week because it was still reasonably busy, so I bet it’s chockers on the weekend or public holidays. It’s definitely a must-do for anyone living in the Bay Area, so I can’t wait to go with James one day.

A Christmas Coastal Trail Hike

19 Jan

This year for Christmas we were supposed to be at Mammoth with James’ family but our flight and replacement flight both got cancelled so we were stuck in San Francisco. Booooo!

Most of our friends were out of town, but luckily a few were going for a hike on Christmas Day so we were able to piggy back on their plans. We all headed up to Rodeo Beach in Marin.
IMG_20151225_135715It was a gorgeous day. We started along the lagoon (which you can see part of in the photo above) and headed to a dirt trail. It wasn’t steep steep but it was a long, unshaded uphill segment and we were pretty impressed by the cyclists that occasionally passed us.

Then we turned onto Wolf Ridge trail, which had beautiful hill views and was quite steep in parts. At what we think was the summit (or at least the turnaround point of the hike) there was some sort of army base with abandoned buildings and great views of the Pacific Ocean.

I saw this structure and said to James “you want to climb that don’t you?”

Of course he did.
IMG_20151225_130117And a rare behind the scenes glance at how the magic happens …
IMG_20151225_130152The rest of the hike was easy and just descending, though James has a bad knee so descents are actually the difficult part for him. I think it must have joined onto another hike because it suddenly got a lot more populated (though that could have been because it was later in the day – on the drive back to San Francisco we saw that outbound traffic was completely snarled).

The second half of the hike had a lot of stuff to explore.  There was this cool artillery thing.
IMG_20151225_134521And a couple of creepy abandoned buildings that I didn’t go into but James did, taking this photo for posterity.
IMG_20151225_131739 (1)And here I am holding everyone up with my wanderings.
IMG_20151225_133826The hike alternated between views of the headlands and, as we came to the end, the Pacific Ocean.
IMG_20151225_140419We spent some time here just chatting, snacking and watching the surfers.

James has long arms so is always on selfie duty.
IMG_20151225_132537And strong legs and core so also on piggyback duty.
IMG_20151225_132653(Why do my teeth look so … golden?)

Then afterwards we had dinner and played games until 3am. It was a really nice day with friends and it totally saved us from having the most depressing Christmas ever. Like seriously, we didn’t even have any food in the house.

Last year we wouldn’t have been able to do something so last minute for Christmas and I feel really fortunate that we made some really great friends in 2015. I still prefer Seattle as a city but I love, love, love our friends here.

A Gorgeous Long Weekend at Lake Tahoe

14 Sep

A couple of months back James and I headed to Lake Tahoe with Chris and Daphne and some of their friends. We headed down early Friday and came back on Sunday.

On the way to Tahoe we stopped off in Fairfield for the Jelly Belly factory tour. It was waaay busier than expected and we waited about an hour in line! Most of the line was out of view, and by the time we realised we thought we might as well stick it out. Other people I’ve talked to have said they waited just 15 minutes so maybe we went on an unusually busy day.

There was a Jelly Belly art room which was pretty cool (also they gave us hats).
IMG_20150807_120418We got to see part of the factory where they make Jelly Bellies. Although it was nice and clean seeing it all was fairly off-putting. Jelly Bellies are pretty unappetising in their incomplete form and the air smelled weird … like tasty chemicals.

We sampled some colourless and chalky Green Apple flavoured Jelly Bellies. Then later on, some Very Cherry Jelly Bellies with some colouring added (but not the hard outer shell).IMG_20150807_123717Mmm … powdery.

We also got a lot of sample bags at the end. The tour was enjoyable but not worth the hour long wait – and by the time we left the line was even longer! I feel a bit tight complaining though, given that the tour was free. It’s definitely worth doing if the line is short but if it’s extended into the cafeteria I wouldn’t bother.

The next day we did part of the Rubicon hike around the lake which, according to the guidebook we read, is considered the area’s signature hike. We left early in the morning which was a good call because the tiny parking lot was already starting to fill up.

James has never met a rock he didn’t want to climb, so here he is at the trailhead. IMG_20150808_090751The hike started off with a pretty prolonged descent which was a bummer because it meant it would end with a pretty prolonged ascent! Most of it was in the forest which was very pretty and shady.
IMG_20150808_094209Though obviously the main attraction was Lake Tahoe to our right.
IMG_20150808_102634There were also little beaches that you could go hang out at which was really nice. It was a seriously gorgeous hike.
IMG_20150808_102726There were lots of little ups and downs which kept things interesting.
IMG_20150808_103059And here is James daintily hopping over some water.
IMG_20150808_103754We didn’t go around the whole lake and just turned back when we were ready. It started getting much warmer and busier and by the time we reached the parking lot it was completely full, with cars parked all along the road’s shoulder. The guy who took our spot said he had been waiting for half an hour!

Later in the afternoon we hired a boat to take out onto Lake Tahoe. It was crowded and hot at the boat rental places but glorious once we got out onto the lake.
20150808_170034
The sky was much hazier than it was that morning but still beautiful.

Here is a group shot!
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After a packed Saturday we had a very laid back Sunday morning before we drove back to the city.

It was our first time in Tahoe and I can definitely see why it’s such a popular area. We have several groups of friends who want to go back in the winter for the snow, so that will be super fun!

Hiking Around Mount Tamalpais and Lunch at Fish.

28 Apr

Last Sunday we went hiking with Daphne, Chris, Lisa and Cagri. It was a beautiful sunny day – perfect hiking weather, which I’m learning seems to be almost every day here.

The drive up was pretty packed, but I think there were enough different trails that no individual trail was particularly busy. This is us at the start of the hike.

IMG_9774

image from Chris

We intended to do the Rock Creek loop but there were a lot of crossroads and the trail wasn’t well-signed (which was weird because it wasn’t a remote area – at some points we were walking next to cars on the road). I think we managed to stay on the trail for most of it, but we made a wrong turn somewhere in there because we finished much faster than we should have.

Never mind, there were so many hikes in the same area that we just started on another one!

Attachment 3

image from Lisa

We had a peek at the Mountain Theater where they were rehearsing what looked like Peter Pan. The construction was super elaborate and you could see the water from the top seats.
IMG_20150426_110436Then we kept randomly walking. It was a pretty easy hike through meadows and then forest. I preferred the forest parts because we weren’t in the sun as much.
IMG_20150426_120328

After the hike we drove to Sausalito for lunch at Fish., a super popular cash-only restaurant. We got there around 1:30pm and there was a massive line.
IMG_20150426_132551It took a long time to get to the front, and the line stayed out the patio gate until around 3pm. At least you could buy drinks while you waited, so everyone got beers and I had a nice refreshing water.

James and I ordered fish and chips and some BBQ oysters. At just under $60 for the two of us it was pretty expensive, especially for a cash-only place!

The food was great though, and the portions were generous. I couldn’t finish mine and had to give James one of my fish and a big handful of chips.
IMG_20150426_142314Stuffed, we went home where I napped until it was time for us to go to Eliot and Michelle’s place to watch Game of Thrones and eat brownies.

It was a pretty busy Sunday but it was nice to get out and explore a bit. =)

The Quintessential Seattle Hike: Mount Si

12 Jun

A few weekends ago it was a beautiful day and we needed to use our Zipcar quota for the month so James and I decided to hike Mount Si. It’s a 3150 foot (960 meter) elevation gain over 8 miles, so a nice leg workout.

I read somewhere that it’s the most hiked trail in Washington, so we were prepared for crowds. We arrived in the parking lot around 9:15am, snagging one of the last available parking spots.

As you can see it’s not particularly scenic on the way up. The majority of the route is through the trees, so at least you don’t have the sun on you.
IMG_3678

Most people on Yelp said they reached the summit basin in 2.5 hours, one guy ran up in under an hour, and someone said that 2 hours was reasonable for someone in decent shape. James wasn’t feeling 100% (getting over a cold and some lingering asthma) but we made it up in 1.5 hours.

I often had to trot to keep up with James. It was pretty much constant uphill broken up by slightly steeper uphills. I do feel that my hill sprints paid dividends here – I definitely couldn’t sustain a jog but it wasn’t a huge deal to break into an uphill run every so often to catch up to James.

Also, and I’m sure this is only interesting to me, but my glutes only started getting sore during the last 20% of the ascent. I’m super quad-dominant so I think that’s how long it took for my quads to tire out and stop doing all the work.

As predicted, it was a really busy hike. We were constantly passing people on the way up and there was a steady stream of people on their way down. This is how many people were at the entrance to the summit basin, and by the time we left it was 2-3 times as packed.
IMG_3682It was entertaining doing some people-watching. Hikers ran the gamut from young kids to the elderly, the super fit to the obese. Some people were in jeans and others were kitted out with massive packs and hiking poles (and James got a fair few comments about his Vibrams). We also passed a brave little chihuahua.

We spent some time exploring the area; scrambling over rocks and finding nice views (protip: pretty much everywhere had a nice view).
IMG_3698

The good thing about the summit basin was that it was really spread out, so even with the crowds it was easy to find somewhere secluded to sit and admire the view.

This was where we had lunch (I may have taken James by surprise when I took this photo).
IMG_3708After lunch we decided to climb the Haystack, which is the true summit of Mount Si. When we were hiking up we hadn’t decided either way, but once we saw it we thought it was doable.
IMG_3713

On a sunny, dry day like ours it wasn’t difficult (lots of easy handholds and places to put your feet), but it is a little scary because if you lose your footing you can fall a long way, and apparently people have died doing it. Plus sometimes people higher up would accidentally kick loose rocks down.

There were a lot of people attempting it but not many people made it all the way up. I don’t think we saw any of the people in this photo at the top.
IMG_3716Funnily enough, although James is afraid of heights – he doesn’t even like being in a chairlift – he was fine climbing the Haystack. He said he doesn’t like relying on things that aren’t himself to keep from falling.
IMG_3717Although the WTA website recommends against climbing the Haystack I was really glad we did it, and James said it was his favourite part of the hike.

The view at the top was pretty similar to the basin, but I guess a bit more panoramic. I don’t think it’s worth climbing to get the slightly less obstructed view, but if you feel like some additional work and are a completionist it’s nice to get to the true summit.
IMG_3723It’s also a lot less crowded at the top – maybe 5-10 people at a time compared to 100+ spread around the summit basin. We chatted to the others up there and had a nice time just looking around and taking everything in.

IMG_3726Going down the Haystack was trickier than going up, but there weren’t any worrying parts. Some bits it was easier to do facing the wall and other parts it was easier to face out.
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But yeah, not technically difficult by any means – just a matter of taking it slow and making sure you had good footing.

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By the time we’d finished mucking around on top it had gotten massively more busy at the summit base as a several big groups arrived. Mount Si is the wrong hike if you’re after a solitary experience, but it’s as challenging as you choose to make it with a phenomenal view (and optional fun climb) to reward you at the end.
IMG_2100We trotted the whole way down, but it didn’t make much difference to our time – maybe because I was in the lead. A slow jog down, not even fast enough to start breathing heavily, was about as fast as I felt comfortable going, and our descent took 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Afterwards we met up with Rian and Sandra for dinner at Marination Ma Kai in West Seattle for victory fish and chips, fries and sliders.
IMG_3759I don’t think the food is as good as their other locations (still tasty!), but it makes up for it with cocktails and the view across the water towards Seattle. It was a beautiful end to a beautiful Seattle day.
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Breakfast at 5 Spot and Hiking Crystal Peak

27 Aug

5 Spot
1502 Queen Anne Ave N, Seattle

So much has been going on that I’ve only just gotten around to posting about stuff we did a couple of months ago!

Luke and Madeline invited us to hike Crystal Peak. We started the morning off at 5 Spot – a super popular diner in Queen Anne. This was the line 5 minutes before it opened for breakfast:

5 Spot is famous for rotating its decor and menu five times a year based on different US cities. When we visited it was San Francisco:

Since it was our first time James and I just ordered off the regular menu. I think James ordered the Ranch Hand Eggs ($10.50) – flour tortillas, oaxaca and pepper jack cheese served over black beans topped with chile sauce and topped with eggs, salsa and sour cream. Though I’m pretty sure he omitted the cheese and sour cream.

I ordered Hair of the Dog-wich ($10.75) – a fried egg sandwich with bacon and cheddar on panino with fried red potatoes and fruit.

James’ was better than mine. I think my fried egg sandwich suffered because the bacon was quite bland, though the fried potatoes were nice and crispy. The prices were very cheap but I didn’t think either dish was particularly memorable.

I still maintain that Seattle doesn’t do breakfast very well. Breakfast places here that have consistently long lines – Portage Bay, Macrina Bakery and 5 Spot are at best second tier breakfast places in Melbourne. Or maybe I’m looking back with rose-coloured glasses? At any rate I’ve found breakfast/brunch in Seattle ranges from mediocre to good. I think 5 Spot is good but nothing mindblowing – though it’s so cheap I’d definitely go back to try something else.

But anyway, after that carby breakfast we drove to Crystal Peak (near Crystal Mountain where we go snowboarding in winter). The hike began in the forest and was a little steeper than normal. The views weren’t very exciting until we got out of the forest.

The path was narrow like that pretty much the whole way. Unfortunately there weren’t any scrambles to do but it was nice walking with Rainier in the background.

Apparently at some parts of the year there are berries everywhere but we were too late for berry season. We got to see a bunch of wildflowers though which was nice.

I can’t remember how long the hike took – maybe 3 hours in total? We saw a few people along the trail but most people were heading to the lake instead of the peak.

Here we are at the top!

That cloud over Rainier stayed there all afternoon so we never got an unobstructed shot. =(

We stayed at the top for awhile, taking in the views, eating and drinking.

In one direction we could see the lake where the original trail split off to. There’s also some snow towards the right, which I still marvel at. Snow in summer? Madness!

It was a pretty dusty hike: behold my formerly-black Vibrams!

I swapped them out for runners soon after we headed down because the webbing of my toes kept jamming uncomfortably against the ends. James didn’t have that problem with his shoes so maybe mine are slightly too big? At any rate the runners fixed the problem.

I’m used to trotting part of the way back down – because you’re going with gravity it’s almost easier than going down slowly. We didn’t do that this time and even though the hike wasn’t difficult, James and I were both really sore the next day. Coincidence? I think not! Seriously, next time you go downhill try trotting – faster and easier.

This was a creek maybe 5-10 minutes from the end (and the beginning I guess).

Afterwards we headed to Puyallup to visit Mike, had burgers for dinner, then headed home. It was a fun afternoon of hiking but man I was sooo glad to shower afterwards!

5 Spot on Urbanspoon

Yosemite!

26 May

James and I just got back from visiting Yosemite National Park with Cat and Scott. It was one of the places I wanted to visit while in America and it despite the crowds and other (sometimes quite inconsiderate) tourists, it didn’t disappoint.

Day 1 – Lower Yosemite Falls

We flew into San Francisco Airport Sunday morning, hired a rental car, picked up Cat and Scott in Oakland, then drove to Yosemite. We checked in around 3pm and took the free park shuttle to Lower Yosemite Falls. It was an easy walk – maybe a 20 minute round trip if you don’t stop to take photos.

We wandered to the rocks near the base of the fall but the closer we got to the waterfall the more we got misted on (and the slipperier the rocks were). It seemed like such a large waterfall when we were there, and it wasn’t until we saw the falls from a distance that we realised that it was basically the runoff from Upper Yosemite Falls.

We stayed at Camp Curry (which had an awesome view of the falls and the surrounding granite). Our lodging was pretty basic – 4 beds in a raised tent. It was unheated so when it hit below zero one night it got pretty chilly.

Ha, I remember when we were settling in for the night Scott came into the tent last. He got into his bed and said, in the most disappointed voice you could possibly imagine, “Aww! This bed is shit!”

Day 2 – Mist Trail

Apparently the Mist Trail is Yosemite’s signature hike. It’s not difficult – there are some steepish parts and at one point you climb a narrow granite staircase but anyone in shape should find it trivial. And even though it’s crowded it’s so worth going – the views are absolutely spectacular.

We started at around 9:30am and it was already fairly busy but when we went back down (maybe around 2?) parts of the hike were really packed. If I could do it again I’d go even earlier – maybe 6am.

This was on the way to the first waterfall. You can’t really tell but we were starting to get sprayed a fair bit – I think right after this photo we put our rain jackets on.

And yes that’s a rainbow. I could not believe how ridiculously beautiful the hike was. I’m pretty sure that while I was admiring the waterfall/rainbow view, a butterfly fluttered past. It was like being in a Disney movie.

When we reached the top of Vernal Falls there was this huge slab of granite where you could rest and admire the view. You could either turn around and go back or continue to Nevada Falls. I reckon it was worth going all the way to Nevada and though James agreed he thought that the first waterfall gave more bang for your buck. If you do decide to turn back after the first falls you should go just a tiny bit further to see the Emerald Pool right after it.

We saw some pretty awesome stuff on that second half – like a deer running right in front of us and a squirrel burying an acorn (only for another squirrel to unearth it right after he left). Here is the original squirrel burying his acorn.

The scenery wasn’t half bad either.

When we reached the base of Nevada Falls some of us were more excited than others.

… lots more excited.

The hike was very well groomed all the way up – it was either clearly marked dirt trails or granite steps the whole way. See?

I had hoped there would be boulder scrambling but I guess they wanted to make the trail as safe as possible with that many people doing it (seriously, go early).

We finally reached the top and rewarded ourselves with some food and a bunch of goofy photos.

It was actually a really large area with the waterfall, a stream, rocks, sand, a large open area and more forest to the sides.

Top of the world! (James is scared of heights so did not join me. The whole time he was like “careful! Be careful! Don’t get too close to the edge!”

Do you see that tiny rainbow in the bottom of the photo? That’s the rainbow we passed on the way up. =)

We lingered there for awhile, eating and taking in the view. The way down was much faster than the way up, but the increased crowds meant that bottleneck areas were a lot more bottlenecky. Still, there were worse things to do than admire the view on the way down (the Vernal Falls rainbow was much less impressive by that time though – another incentive to go early!)

Also that evening while we were in the camp rec room, a little squirrel decided to explore Scott’s bag. He got in and started rummaging around – we were worried he was taking a dump in there but later on Scott found a peanut in there that he thinks the squirrel was going for.

So cute! Look at his bushy tail! Look at his tufted ears!

Day 3 – Tuolumne Meadows, Tenaya Lake and Rafting

Day 3 involved a bit of driving – it was maybe 1.5 hours to Tuolumne Meadows and Tenaya Lake. The drive was nice and scenic and all around you could see chunks of snow that hadn’t melted. Because it was comparatively far from the valley floor there were a lot fewer people around.

The hiking areas were flat except for Lembert Dome, which was basically a massive granite dome that you could walk halfway up.

On the way we saw a marmot! He was originally sunning himself on a rock but scurried into his cave when he saw us.

Every 10 seconds or so he’d come back out to see if we’d gone, and got progressively grumpier and grumpier when he saw that we were still there.

Afterwards we walked through the meadows to the Soda Springs (this area with puddles of carbonated water). The springs were small and underwhelming but the walk there was gorgeous – we saw a bunch of squirrels, deer and even a few hares. No bears though. =(

Afterwards we headed to Tenaya Lake. Apparently you can normally walk around it but it was roped off because they were regrowing some of the vegetation. But anyway it was pretty trippy to see sand and snow in the same view (there was actually some snow a lot closer – maybe a 5-10 minute walk to the left)

This was the view facing west – amazing!

When we got back to the camp we went rafting along the Mercer River. We had a lot of views of Yosemite Falls and got to see the other campsite as well as some deer.

Day 4 – Mariposa Grove and Tunnel View

On our final day we checked out after breakfast and drove to Mariposa Grove to see some 2000 year old sequoias. Again it was about a 1.5 hour drive from the camp, but in a different direction.

I found it a little lame compared to the other stuff we did. It was nice seeing the trees but they suffered in comparison to waterfalls, granite cliffs and mountains. =(

Although we did get to see this little guy. I will never get tired of squirrels.

We hiked around for about 2-3 hours – it was nice but not spectacular – and then drove to Tunnel View for one last look at Yosemite.

I wish we’d had time to fit in Glacier Point as well but overall I think we saw a good mix of things in the time we had. We had picture perfect weather the whole time we were there, which was lucky because apparently May can be hit or miss.

We all agreed that Mist Trail was the highlight and the lowlight was how inconsiderate some of the other tourists were – there were parts of the valley with litter all over the place. Seriously, who goes to a national park and then throws their water bottles and cigarette butts on the ground? It’s shitty enough normally but why on earth would you do it at a national park where presumably you’ve gone to enjoy the pristine wilderness? WTF is wrong with people?

But anyway if you can get past that and travel around at off-peak times the scenery is incomparable. I wish we could have had a crack at the Half Dome hike. We’ve hiked a similar distance with similar elevation gain so I’m pretty confident we could do it – though James’ fear of heights could be a problem at the end. But the cables weren’t up while we were there so we’ll have to leave that (and hopefully our first bear sighting!) for another time.