Past,  Travel & Culture

Hiking a Waterfall at Yosemite National Park

Annie,

Did you ever get the chance to visit a U.S. National Park during your time in the States? My family has been going to Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks ever since I was young because they were close, and nature is just so majestic and beautiful, as you know since you love the outdoors as well.

It’s my first time coming to Yosemite in May. Usually we come towards the end of summer, and most of the water is dried up and there is little to no water left in the waterfalls. This time there was still ice around! The waterfalls were flowing with water and I loved it!

The last time I came to Yosemite was about 2 years ago, and so much has changed.

  1. Curry Village has been renamed to Half Dome Village. This could be because the village sits right below Half Dome, but it also sits on Curry Road.
  2. It is so crowded now. My parents had difficulty booking lodging because everybody wants in! When we went, there was a 6th grade field trip happening at the same time, and there were these kids taking over the place.
  3. There are more parking lots, but it doesn’t feel like it because there are more people incoming than there are parking lots opening

One thing I like about Yosemite is that you barely get any cell service because of all the huge rocks. I tried for about 10 minutes to find cell service when we first arrived, but gave up and turned on Airplane Mode. It was so freeing to disconnect and really appreciate Mother Nature.

If you stay at Half Dome Village, there’s only one area where you can hop onto the WiFi, which is fastest during the morning before 10 AM when nobody else is awake and using it. It’s still not the best – like it took several hours just to send a couple texts and a photo to you – but better than when 30 other people are trying to use the WiFi as well.

Here’s a tip on how to get around Yosemite: ditch your car whenever possible. The amount of visitors nowadays is just insane, and I cannot imagine it getting any better in the years to come. Take the free Yosemite Valley Shuttle System. It is eco-friendly, and saves lots of time you’d waste on finding parking. The majority of the places you want to see are close to a shuttle stop anyways, unless you’re planning on visiting places beyond Yosemite Valley.

I can’t remember if I’ve ever gone camping at Yosemite when I was younger. All I know is that when I was younger, my family used to camp all over California.

Getting a campsite in Yosemite is hard because most of the campgrounds are walk-in only. There is a huge demand for camping because it’s much cheaper than lodging in the villages.

How getting a campsite works:

  • Each campsite has its own office.
  • The office we went to near Half Dome Village opens at 8 AM, but we were in line at 5:30 AM to increase our chances of getting a spot. We were the first ones in line. I used the ranger and she said that on the weekends people usually start lining up around 6 AM. I even saw someone take their single air mattress and sleeping bag, and straight up slept in line while waiting for the office to open.
  • There were about 10 people in line by 8 AM, and the office said there were 3 definite open spots, so we got in! The other 7 people put their names down, and would have to check back with the office at 3 PM to see if there were any last-minute cancellations.

Camping in Yosemite was much more enjoyable than camping at June Lake because there was no heavy downpour. We didn’t bring many activities though because the car was packed with luggage and food, so that was kind of boring. Now I know for next time – bring a bike, or outdoor games… anything.

It was supposed to rain the entire time we were at Yosemite, so we did not plan on doing any difficult hikes like the Half Dome. We thought we’d only do half of the Upper Yosemite Falls hike, weather permitting. However, the day we hiked the Upper Yosemite Falls turned out to be really nice, so we ended up hiking the whole thing a little unprepared.

I thought Upper Yosemite Falls was supposed to be a moderate hike, but afterwards I read hiking information from Yosemite Visitor Center, and it fell under the strenuous category. I felt really good because not only was it a surprise, but I didn’t even feel sore afterwards, which means that I am upping my fitness game. Whoo!

We also checked out Mirror Lake. My parents said the best time to check it out is in the morning before 10 AM on a clear day because it looks like a huge mirror. We missed the optimal viewing period, but it was still really gorgeous.

Every time that I’ve been to Yosemite, I have only hung out on the outer parts of Yosemite Valley – a fall here, a hike there. This was my first time walking the trail through the center of Yosemite Valley. It was a easy, long walk to do after hiking Upper Yosemite Falls the day before. There were so many picturesque views, from bridges to rivers to waterfalls to rocks.

Yosemite is one of my parents top 5 favorite national parks. Despite all the visitors it gets during the summertime, it is still really fun to go. I hope one day you’ll be able to visit Yosemite! Here’s a video of my trip:

xo
Juliet

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