California Roadtrippin' / by Andrew Tat

With two weeks left before I left for New Zealand, my friend Emily and I decided to take a trip to California. When I say "decided", I mean almost literally just decided. We didn't have much of a plan except to stop by Claremont/LA, Fresno, and Yosemite.

Here are a few of the highlights from our trip:

  • On our way to Union Station from LAX, we may have missed the Union Station stop on the Metro, whoops...
  • While on the train from Union Station to CMC, Emily decorated a rock as a birthday present for her friend. The final result was pretty sick:
  • While at CMC, I got to watch my homie Clayton pitch for the Stags for the first time ever.
  • I also got some work done in a glass cube.
150207_Tat_CMS Baseball vs. Willamette-2.jpg
  • I got to spend some time with my nieces and nephews who I hadn't seen in close to two years.
  • Driving to Fresno was surprisingly scenic.
  • Driving from Fresno to Yosemite was even more, breathtakingly beautiful.
  • And Yosemite was impossibly gorgeous.
  • I had no idea that the drive into the valley would be so photogenic.
  • The feature of Yosemite that really surprised me was the scale of the valley. Everything is MASSIVE. The falls, the rock, and the valley itself.

Now that we had arrived in Yosemite Valley, we weren't exactly sure where we were going to go. We had originally planned for a car camping trip with day hikes into the surrounding areas, but at the last minute we decided to go backpacking instead, cause why not? 

After talking to the rangers, we mapped out a 12-13 mile loop around the southeast part of the valley:

  1. Starting at Curry Village, follow Mist Trail ~3.5 miles out to Little Yosemite Valley, finding a camp spot somewhere along the latter part of the trail.
  2. From our camp the second day, hike 5.5-ish miles along Panorama Trail to Glacier Point, camping at the point for the night.
  3. Hike 4.4 miles and ~4000 feet down Four Mile Trail to the valley floor to finish our trip.

Since we had arrived in Yosemite Valley in the afternoon, we didn't have much time to hike out, find a spot to camp, and setup before sunset would plunge the valley into darkness. 

Along the way up the first day, we stopped at Clark Point, a fork in the Mist Trail that lead to two trails that would both take us to Little Yosemite Valley. The rangers had told us to follow the John Mist Trail, which we found out was supposedly closed due to rockslides in the winter. That was a little worrisome. Safety told us to take the longer, steeper route, but our guts said to take the John Mist trail as the sun was setting and there hasn't been as much snow in the past few years.

We eventually chose to trust our guts and take the John Mist Trail. We weren't about to hike down to Vernal Falls only to hike back up and around to Nevada Falls with the sun quickly setting around us. Our fears were quickly dissipated, too, when we came across another hiker along the John Mist Trail.

Still with no idea where we were going to camp for the night, we trudged on.

Eventually, we came across Nevada Falls.

With a breathtaking 180˚ view of the valley from the southeast, we knew immediately that this was where we were going to camp. 

The sun set quickly after we finished setting up camp.

With the river leading to Nevada Falls right next to us, it was pretty chilly the first night. Regardless, our camp site was entirely worth it.

It was also really chilly the next morning, but once the sun peaked over the edge of the mountains above us, it became quite warm. So warm, in fact, that we fell asleep and napped for a solid chunk of time right before the afternoon.

Now super, super well rested given our naps and 10-12 hour nights, we packed up camp and headed out for Glacier Point along the Panorama Trail.

Along the way, we saw Yosemite Falls again, this time from a much higher perspective.

We descended along the Panorama Trail and crossed over the Illilouette Gorge.

Only to start hiking up again through some luscious shrubbery with some incredibly vast views of the valley from the southeast.

And then there we were at Glacier Point.

Glacier Point was amazing, but also kind of weird for a couple of reasons:

  • The point was actually pretty well developed. There were roads, parking lots, and even a lodge. This threw us off. Luckily, the developed parts were shut down for the winter.
  • Even though everything was shut down at Glacier Point, the lights in the lodge turned on at night, presumably automatically.

Anyhow, after exploring around Glacier Point for a little bit, we setup camp in a more enclosed area for the second night. We didn't want to have to deal with the wind we had the first night next to the river.

Still can't complain about our view, though. 

I tried my hand at astrophotography.

Sunrise was spectacular. Enough said.

Eventually and unfortunately, we had to say goodbye to our awesome campsite...

...and began our descent to the valley floor.

Yosemite, you are beautiful and we will be back again someday.

After Yosemite, the rest of our trip passed by quickly. We got the crucial In-N-Out, said goodbye to my sister and the family, and drove back to CMC just in time for bed.

The next day, we visited Venice beach before my flight.

And then I was at LAX and the California roadtrip came to an end. One of the best weeks I've had in awhile.