Yosemite & Sequoia: An Impromptu Adventure

I always joke that this is a “vacation blog.” Whenever I have vacation time from school, I dive back in to blogging, photography, reading, and Netflix. I am being 100% serious when I say I don’t even have time for Netflix these days, which kills me because Gilmore Girls is the hot topic between classes right now.

Time is always the issue – the fact that there never seems to be enough of it. So when one of my best childhood friends and I decided we wanted to go to Yosemite (I had never been), late November, early December was the soonest we both had a weekend free… a perfect time of year if you want to freeze to death in your tent. “Well, I could go this coming weekend…“

And so it began. Our plan was simply to not have a plan. We would put the back seats of her Jeep down to make a fort to sleep in and we’d apply for last-minute lottery permits to hike Half Dome. And anything after that, we’d figure out along the way.

DAY ONE: The Drive To Yosemite

5am, 5:01, and 5:02 alarms just barely encouraged us out of bed. But we hit the road by 5:30 and were stuck in LA traffic by 7am. The good news: the sunrise was beautiful and we stopped for yummy food at Urth Caffe. After that, time actually passed quite quickly. We spent the remaining hours blasting music, sharing funny anecdotes, and calling to reserve a camp for that evening.


Once we arrived at Yosemite, we drove up to Glacier Point and I got my first view of Half Dome. As soon as we hit the trail and began walking up the slightest of inclines, I could immediately tell that we were no longer at sea level since I was out of breath after a few short minutes. Fortunately, the trail wasn’t long and the viewpoint was STUNNING and worth the embarrassment of gasping for air. And to top it off, we climbed over the Do Not Enter railing to take some incredible pictures (sorry Mom).

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A family friend had recommended to call Housekeeping Camp on our way up to see if they had a last-minute vacancy. She called it a “refugee camp,” but promised it would be better than sleeping in the car as it provided a bathroom, light, and an outlet. We didn’t quite understand what she meant by a refugee camp until we arrived and saw this:


Obviously, the only logical thing to do when you’ve walked into your sleeping quarters which consist of metal rod bunks is to break out the alcohol, bag of Doritos, and deck of cards. And when it’s time to go find the bathroom, one must wear their headlamp. (Duh!)

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DAY TWO: The Hike

Unfortunately, we didn’t win the lottery for a Half Dome permit. But we decided to hit the trail early anyways to see how far we could get. In the end, we hiked TWELVE FREAKING MILES. We had lunch at the top of Nevada Fall, reached the base camp for Half Dome, and then took a detour past Vernal Fall on the way back. Our legs were furiously shaking by the end. So as soon as we reached the car, we collapsed into folding chairs right in the middle of the parking lot.

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Once feeling began to return to our feet, we decided that we couldn’t sit in the parking lot forever. And because we didn’t have a place to stay that night as the entire park was sold out, we would either need to make fast friends and bum off someone else’s campsite… or we could go spend the night in Fresno and hit Sequoia National Park on the way home. The latter option (which also happened to promise a hot shower) was the winner.

DAY THREE: Sequoia National Park

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetLet me just jump straight to the best part: we saw FIVE BEARS – two of which were cubs with their mama! They fearlessly joined us and our many fellow hikers on the paved path. The mom literally hopped through the fence and then sauntered down the road with her cubs chasing after her as people hollered, “Watch out! Bear!” The babies were so darn cute that I was tempted to give one a hug… but given that the mama bear would have killed me, I scratched that idea. Instead, I managed to take this epic selfie. (That black thing on the path is the mama bear!)

We also hugged some big-@$$ trees, had an epic fail as I tried to get on Ali’s shoulders to take a picture in front of General Sherman (the largest sequoia in existence), and trekked the 400+ stairs to the top of Moro Rock which offers a 360 degree view of Sequoia National Park and Forest. It was BREATHTAKING!

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Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetYes, it was a lot of hours in a car considering we only had the equivalent of two full days of exploration. But I would do it all over again! In fact, we are already planning our next hiking adventure! We’re thinking either Antelope Canyon or the Grand Canyon, both out in Arizona.

Does anyone have any suggestions? Favorite places to spend weekends hiking? We want to hear them!


One thought on “Yosemite & Sequoia: An Impromptu Adventure

  1. elle, not to get sentimental, but as I can longer hike & etc, your blogs strongly remind me of the days when Jage & I did the things you are doing now. We had many trip to Sequoia & Yosemite (LA much closer thenSan Diego). I suggest Death Valley. DD

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