We said goodbye to the giant Sequioas and zig-zagged through the fruit-fields of California to Yosemite National Park. What are the chances that you can get a camping spot without a reservation on Father's Day weekend in Yosemite? Actually, pretty good - if you are willing to make it a back country pass where you have to hike out of the valley and at least four miles away from the valley. So that's what we did. We pulled in at the South entrance to the park and went to the wilderness station. The ranger that helped us was some teeny-bopper high school kid. He signed us up to hike out on the Ililouette trail, spend two nights on the trail and return to the valley past glacier point. It looked like a nice hike. We would spend the night in the backpackers camp, then get up early the next day and hit the trail.
We rented our bear canister (where you keep all of your food, and anything with human smell on it, including your dirty toilet paper...crazy, I know) and headed towards the vallley. Good thing it was Father's Day weekend or else the traffic might have been bad. Oh wait...this was like standing in line at Cedar Point to get a parking spot, only you're in a line of cars instead of standing on the pavement. It took forever to find where we were going. There were people everywhere. Literally everywhere. It was nuts. Eventually we found our backpacker parking lot, and our backpacker camp. And just to make it easy (just kidding), they were not in the same spot.
Sunday morning arrived, and we loaded up our enormous tent and the rest of our gear and headed out of the valley. We hiked up, and up, and up, and up, and up, and up, and up some more. Slowly we left the crowds behind, but not before passing some amazing waterfall views. Around mid-afternoon we got out of the valley and headed out on our trail. We fully realized that we were alone in the wild. No one had checked our permit to know that we were heading in the right direction, and no one would check to see that we were back on time. If our parents hadn't heard from us in several days, or a week, they might think to call the park but by that time... anyway, we were out in the wild. Eventually we came to a river and our trail was supposed to cross the river. So we looked and saw the trail on the other side, but this was a wide river. In late summer or the fall it would have been a little creek, but with the spring snow melt, this was a big river. And it was at least waist deep, and moving pretty quick. We looked and looked and could not find a place shallow enough to cross. Then we met two guys coming down a different trail, we chatted, and they took off somewhere not following a trail. And they disappeared. I knew they had to have crossed the river, so we finally went the direction they did. And there it was. A huge log laid all the way across the river just for us to cross. Nevermind that it was probably 100 feet across, 6 or 7 feet above the river, and the best part---right over a waterfall. As one other hiker we met said: "If you fall off of that, it'd be a game ender." neither of us had trekking poles to help us balance ourselves, so we did the responsible thing and set up camp and decided to return the way we came from instead of continuing the loop. No sense in ruining the rest of the summer just to see glacier point.
We spent the night, packed up our things and put our packs back on our tired and bruised hip bones and headed back down to the valley on Monday morning. This time, the hike went fast. We made it the whole way back by early afternoon. We went back to the backpackers camp, set up camp, and still had time to go see the whole valley by bike. And by Monday, the weekend crowd had cleared out. Don't get me wrong, there were still a lot of people, but the masses had left.
Overall, I enjoyed Yosemite. It was a beautiful park with huge rock faces and high waterfalls. But the crowd and the traffic almost made it not worth it. I much more enjoyed Zion National Park in Utah. It was fun to get out into the backcountry, but I was ready to head to San Francisco and wine country.