We planned a hike to Mirror Lake and around the interior edge of the valley. Because I thought the shuttle route would be closed in winter, we started a bit father from the trail head than we meant to and had to make a few river crossings to get to the start. Once on the trail, the path was a little bit like walking in an elven wonderland, with old stone paths and boulders covered in moss. It was warm and sunny when made it to the lake and little kids were running through the water. We decided to cross ourselves and head down the trail back into the valley. The water was calm but icy cold. We ate our lunch by the lake before heading back on the trail.
As we walked back, we came across a deer on the trail. All the deer we encountered were surprisingly docile but this one particularly so. I walked slowly past it, trying to keep my distance, and it just calmly continued grazing.
It wasn’t long before it started getting dark and we found ourselves at the Ahwahnee hotel. We ventured inside for a bit to check out the place. It was strangely reminiscent of the Overlook hotel with massive fireplaces and red elevator doors.
We walked around the village a bit more afterwards before driving back out of the valley with the most brillian pink sunset.
It was overcast when we arrived in the Yosemite valley on our first day. Since we had left so early in the morning, it felt as if we were in a sort of never ending afternoon without any discernible sun in the sky. It was surprisingly cold on the side of the mountains as we gazed into the valley from tunnel view. What the photos here don’t reveal are the crowds of tourists that surrounded us at popular stops like these. Buses of rowdy teenagers and groups of international travelers on photo tours quickly came and went around us at the viewpoint and bridalveil fall. There is solitude to be found in Yosemite, but you have to seek it out.
Once in the valley, it was a quick walk to the Bridalveil fall, which, at this point in the dry winter, was just a tiny stream of water that dispersed into mist before touching the rocks below. Signs warned of the danger of slipping on the wet rocks, but the falling water wasn’t particularly robust and visitors scrambled all over the rocks to its base.
We explored a little more in the valley before it got dark, checking out the camp curry tents and such, then drove the windy road back up to our cabin and settled in for the night.
It sounds a bit silly to say that I feel different after visiting Yosemite, but it’s true. There is something majestic about the place. It recharges your spirit to be in the presence of rocks carved over thousands of years by glaciers. Just the pure enormity of it all, of the time that has passed over this place, is awe-inspiring.
Over the presidents’ day weekend, in celebration of our anniversary, Shawn and I took a trip to a little cabin in Yosemite. Our cabin was in a small town called Wawona, which is just barely inside the park, but still about an hour drive from the valley floor. I had never been to Yosemite before and Shawn had only been long ago during a snowy road trip. We expected snow on our trip, as it had snowed the previous weekend, but there was hardly any, even in the highest elevations. Though it was cold in the evening, it was quite warm in the sun during the day and not terribly wintery at all.
We left early Saturday morning and arrived just after noon. We were able to get into our cabin early so we unpacked and explored the area a bit before heading down to the valley. We walked down to a creek not far from the cabin and spotted some deer snacking on the undergrowth. There wasn’t anyone around and it was a relief to be in the quiet and calm. It felt luxurious being able to just walk aimlessly in the woods and sit and listen to the water rush by. When I dream of living in the woods, it feels something like these moments. In the city I am always longing for quiet, always wishing for access to nature. We live squarely in the middle of a sprawling city though and it’s always a trek even to the closest semi-wild places. Even then, it’s sometimes hard for me to filter out the noise of other humans and just be present in my own space.
We ventured down into the Yosemite valley not much later in the day. It is truly one of the most magnificent places I’ve visited. Stunning views and rock formations in every direction. Yet the little bit of time we spent alone, exploring in Wawona, was something I treasure dearly. For awhile, walking in the trees next to the river, there was no sign that people had ever touched the place, no buildings or noises or trail. It takes a bit more work to escape such things in the valley, though it is certainly possible, as much of the park goes unexplored. I look forward to a time where we will be able to venture even further into the wilderness.
I’ll be sharing more photos from our trip over the next week. Though our trip to the Sequoia national park and even our adventures in New Zealand have been amazing, this trip was really special in a different way. It left us both longing to go back to such a magical place and stay as long as we could. Since our return, we’ve been watching the Ken Burns’ documentary series on National Parks and researching various hikes we can go on so we have something to look forward to. There is something magnetic about such a stunning wilderness that touches something deep inside of you and calls you back.
This year there will be more camping. I have declared it so, and so it shall be. We started the year with a trip to Joshua Tree. We arrived a bit late for a holiday weekend but by some great fortune were able to snag a secluded spot behind a boulder. It was one of the quietest campgrounds I’ve ever been to. It was comfortably warm in the sun during the day and quite chilly at night, though not unbearably so. We ate lots of camp food, split logs, did some rock climbing and made s’mores around the fire with our friends Jenn and Scott.
The thing I love the most about going camping, besides the quiet, is being able to come home and see the place you live with a new perspective. This applies to most travel I suppose, but there’s something particular about car trips. You spend all this time examining new places, trying to understand them from the outside. It’s easy to keep those inquisitive lenses on for just awhile when you return to try and see what your home is like from a different angle.
Mostly though I just like the quiet. The quiet and the dark and the stillness. There are no pressures on you to do anything at all except feed yourself and perhaps explore if you are so inclined.
This was the third national park we’ve visited in the past year. I’d love to say that I’d like to visit them all, but with 8 in Alaska, 3 in Hawaii, and several on other various islands, visiting all 59 seems quite daunting. Perhaps we’ll just start with the 9 parks in California (that makes us 1/3 of the way there already). Yes, I like numbers. This is something you should know about me.
I was going to skip doing a recap of 2013, but it is nice to reflect on all that happened in a year. In January we went to Sundance and saw some of my favorite films of the year, including Upstream Color. We went on a few little adventures including vising Muir Woods and Mt. Baldy.
In February we went camping at the Salton Sea, where there was a lot of ruckus with flame throwers and such. Shawn released his short film Creeper. I made some damn good spinach artichoke dip and became slightly addicted to it.
July was filled with ice cream, including recipes for red velvet ice cream and chocolate chip cookie dough pops. A cat we were fostering, Mabel, was adopted, which was bittersweet. I made my own deodorant. We went for a bike ride for the 4th and ate popsicles at the beach. For vegan pizza day, we at loads of pizza.
In August we went camping in the giant sequoias. While there, we got to see some rescued carnivorous birds. I knit a tiny sweater for a friend’s baby. I made kit fox and bandit raccoon stuffed animals. We also started a dinner share, which we really need to get back to doing.
To kick off September we spent Labor day hiking and playing games with friends and family. I refinished a cute little heart desk and attended a pie contest. I visited Shawn while he was working in New York and we went to Champs and Vegan Treats. We also visited Dun-well Donuts and Candle 79 for the first time. I saw The Punk Singer with Kathleen Hanna in person and I made another Laurel dress.
In November I made a bright little quilt for my sister-in-law’s baby. I made pumpkin bread from an actual pumpkin. Made decorations for a fancy autumn dinner party. We also had a lovely Thanksgiving at Crossroads. The biggest thing, possibly of the year, was that I shot a short film that I wrote and directed (in Pennsylvania no less).
And December, which was just days ago, was filled with so much present making there wasn’t much else to be done. We did make gingerbread houses though. I tried to watch as many snowy bleak movies as I could find.
My my it has been a year indeed. I can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store.