It had been almost four years since we visited Yosemite. I wanted to ensure we had an opportunity to go camping this year, so back in March, I checked out campsite availability in Yosemite. I found one spot available in the campground furthest from the Yosemite valley, but still inside the park. I figured it must be near the dumpster or prone to flooding. On top of a septic tank maybe? But no. It turned out that we were just exceptionally lucky. We had a beautiful spot, right on the Merced River.Of course, it was still hot and by the time Daddy and I managed to get our camp all set up, we were more than ready to jump in the water.We had a tasty spaghetti dinner, complete with campfire-cooked garlic bread and salad with veggies brought from the garden at home. We even made a little ice cream for dessert and ate it as we walked to the campfire program with the ranger.
In the morning, we headed for the Yosemite valley with the goal of seeing a few waterfalls and maybe bagging a letterbox or two. I'd made the tactical error of telling Smunch about the Mist Trail. I've taken this trail to the top of Vernal Falls before, but it's been a long time. It's only 1.5 miles to the top. What they don't really show on the map is that the 1.5 miles involves a gain of 1000 feet. Possibly not so appropriate for a 4 and 6-year-old. You think? We decided to go for it anyway, leaving our lunch in the cooler in the car rather than packing it up the trail with us (mistake!).
Here's the view from our starting point. There was also a lot of smoke in the air in Yosemite, so what looks like a little early morning fog is really nasty smoky air.And our intrepid explorers at the beginning of the hike...It's about 1.2 miles to "the bridge" where you can first see the waterfall. Not surprisingly, it's a lot of uphill. And Mam whined a whole lot. Daddy ended up carrying her more than any human being should have had to. But we made it to the bridge. Don't the kids look happy?Smunch will proudly tell you that he didn't whine even once. He was actually a terrific little kid the entire time. He was all excited to get up in the mist. And interestingly, even Mam was kind of excited to take the 0.3 miles of stairs on her own.I was ever so thankful that there was plenty of water in the falls and some mist on the trail. There's nothing like disappointing a six-year-old who has climbed all that way for the mist and hasn't whined at all!These days, the trip to the top of Vernal Falls, is more like some kind of pilgrimage. So many people are on the trail that it's really crazy. Old people, young people, women in bikinis. Women in saris. Men in full combat fatigues. Backpackers, day hikers, those headed for the top of Half Dome. People who make you wonder why they haven't had a stroke... It's a wonder Daddy didn't have a stroke with how much Mam-carrying he had to do. But we made it to the top!We hung out at the top for a little while, but without lunch we really needed to get back. Mam insisted on walking down the steps herself and too fast, so she ended up a little scraped and bruised. But it was Smunch who managed to face plant on the way down. Still, we made it down mostly intact.At the bottom, we all treated ourselves to popsicles and ice cream sandwiches from the snack stand before taking the shuttle back to the van and having a picnic lunch, doing a small bit of souvenir shopping and then having Smunch demonstrate a earthshaking natural phenomenon by cratering into a hysterical mass before we made it back to the van. Despite the screaming child, I hadn't abandoned my hope of taking a photo of Yosemite Falls (which I'd really wanted to walk to, but that clearly wasn't going to happen) across one of the beautiful meadows. It took us way too long to find the appropriate meadow, but I got a nice shot and a picture of some interesting meadow flowers too.Another trip to the river was clearly in order by the time we got back to the campground an hour or so later. I started our hot dog dinner while Daddy took the kids to cool off. We traded places once the fire got going. We had a great dinner followed by s'mores. The Smunchism of the day was when Smunch bit into his s'more and declared, "Now this is camping!"We spent a little time around the campfire...and everyone fell asleep quickly.
Sunday morning, we woke up early. We had new neighbors with some very noisy, crabby little kids. It reminded me that although I love camping, it wouldn't have been a great idea to take our kids when they were younger. We cooked breakfast and packed up our camp. I'd hoped to go see some of the big trees, but after learning that would be another long, uphill hike, we opted for a more laid back morning, puttering around Wawona's historic site, complete with a pretty, little covered bridge and an active blacksmith shop. Then we hopped the stagecoach and headed for home...