Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.

-John Muir, as seen on a plaque at the former site of his cabin at Yosemite

After a few days sipping wine by day in Napa and Sonoma and then tasting beers by night in Santa Rosa, we were ready to get back out into the wilderness. It’s not that we don’t love those things, it’s just that we’ve really, really enjoyed the quiet of the outdoors and the comfort of our tent. It’s weird, I know.

Someone told us that you had to experience Yosemite to believe it, and they were absolutely right.


Half Dome. Cars kept in for scale. Massive, right?

Upon entering the National Park, we were surprisingly greeted by the massive granite rock formations El Capitan and Half Dome, as well as Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfall in the U.S. Every where we turned there was something incredible to take in.

Lower Yosemite Falls
Lower Yosemite Falls
If you look closely behind us, you’ll see one waterfall up top (Upper Yosemite Falls) and then the teeny-tiny peek of one about 1/3 of the picture in, right above the tree line.  That is Lower Yosemite Falls, and is the massive one a few pictures above. It’s easy to imagine how this is the tallest waterfall in the U.S.

The next day we knocked out all of the hikes we wanted to do, from climbing to the base of a waterfall to walking through gorgeous meadows of wildflowers, all while surrounded by huge granite walls. Exhausted after hiking and looking to cool down, we decided at the last minute to rent a raft and take a lazy float through the valley on the Merced River. Best decision ever.

Studs need breaks from rafting, too.

We were lucky again with the fires. On our first two days, we got everything on our to-do list knocked off with crystal clear skies. The third day, we woke up to thick smoke from the nearby fires and even had to take a detour out of the park due to fire activity.

I need to get one of these at home.

This was also our first stay where we had a bear box and had to actively lock up anything and everything that might tempt the bears into visiting our campsite. The basic rule was ANYTHING that has a smell had to be locked up. Food, utensils, toiletries, vitamins, the 10 tubes of chapstick I carry in my bag, everything. Apparently black bears have an amazing sense of smell and are not above breaking into cars or tents to check out a smell or a shiny wrapper. Thankfully, we didn’t get to test this out, and didn’t see a bear during our entire visit to Yosemite.

No bear inside.

Love from a laundry mat, where we have wifi for the first time in 1.5 weeks (!!!),

Cathleen & Christopher


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