We decided to go to Yosemite for American Thanksgiving. It was a last minute decision, made on Friday morning. We got settled into our campsite near sunset and went for a short walk. We got a spot at Camp 4 which is a walk-in campsite in the Yosemite Valley. During the summer season you need to be there really early to get a spot, but during the off season it was not full even by night. We went for a walk to get a good view of sunset.
The water was perfectly still. The debris at the bottom of the stream reminded me of a starry night.
There was a very cool cloud that formed over the mountain next to half dome.
We cooked dinner on the fire. The first night we had beans in corn tacos, the second night we had pea soup, carrots, and sausages. The fire was critical for staying warm. When the fire died we went to bed. We had sub-zero sleeping bags, sweatpants, winter jackets, every blanket we owned, and we wrapped out heads up in towels and covered everything but our noses, and we still froze.
This is what we woke up to! We started each day by going for a cup of hot chocolate and something warm to eat from the deli. (FYI it was a low of 9 degrees … Fahreinheit, so -13 C)
Patterns made by termites, coated in frost:
We decided to hike the trail to Upper Yosemite Falls. I give the trail a 10/10. It was great to get into the sun, get moving, and warm up.
I liked how the trees arched over the path!
This was our first view of Yosemite Falls, looking up. There wasn’t much water since it was the end of the dry season.
For some perspective, here is Dmitriy at the bottom:
Behind the waterfall:
The top is the ledge the water was bouncing off of (but not anywhere near the top of the waterfall).
We found snow at the top of the trail!
The view from the top was amazing. The mountains are part of the Sierra Nevadas. Fun fact: Yosemite became a popular tourist destination in the 1850s.
We had some snacks at the top (nutella and carrots) and admired the view.
We walked down a really narrow set of stairs to a slightly lower viewing platform. In this picture, you actually see the stairs, the ground below, and then the railing (so they are even more narrow than it looks)!
We started the downwards hike. I was somewhat amused by the fate of this sign:
For our next hike we chose a hike passing Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls. I rate this hike an 8/10 because it is on the shady, cold side of the mountain. En route to our hike, we passed by Happy Isles (right at the bottom level of the Yosemite Valley – super accessible).
Dmitriy’s nutella was rock hard. It was sooooo cold overnight!
We saw a rainbow in the clouds:
Here is Vernal Falls:
It was cool hearing the falls. We stopped to eat lunch at the top of Vernal Falls, maybe 50ft behind where the falls go over the edge. We had chips wrapped in bread because our fingers were too cold to make something more sophisticated (i.e. to open the nutella jar and spread it on bread). Then we had to walk immediately to stay warm (the slower pools of running water was starting to freeze up behind the falls). We really should have brought gloves and hats and proper warm cloths – we just weren’t expecting it to be so much colder than Santa Cruz! Also, you can see Nevada Falls in the background.
The Nevada Falls:
This is at the top of Nevada Falls. We caught our first rays of sun for the day, which also happened to be the last of the day – it dipped behind the other mountain just after we got up.
Right at the edge where the water flows off: