Yosemite National Park

My boyfriend and I went on an amazing 6 week road trip this past summer. We drove from NC to CA and I want to share our travels with you. We're on our last leg of the trip in Yosemite National Park with my family!

Yosemite National Park
Collage of Yosemite National Park

Cam and I spent 4 days resting and relaxing at my house before we continued on to the last leg of the trip. My family (dad, mom, and sister) joined us for it, which to them was just a 3 night camping trip.🏕 We were headed for Yosemite and I did pretty much all of the planning when it came to the campsite, permits, food, logistics, and general itinerary. All my family had to do was show up. I wanted it to be as smooth and fun of an experience as possible.

Day Itinerary
(9/18/23) Day 44

9am - Breakfast, load cars, drive to Yosemite
2pm - Arrive at Yosemite Valley, check into Upper Pines Campground, set up camp, eat lunch, relax, pack for next day's hike
6pm - Eat dinner (burritos)🌯, get ready for bed
8pm - Go to bed

We took two cars to Yosemite so that we’d have more than enough room to bring everything we needed and not be cramped. The drive and our first day in Yosemite was very relaxed. I think we lucked out with our campsite too because there was plenty of room to fit 3 tents whereas some other campsites barely had enough flat space for 1 tent. 

The plan was to hike Half Dome the next day and to make sure everyone was properly fueled for the journey, I prepared a delicious dinner of burritos (which I unfortunately didn’t take any pictures of). I brought marinated chicken, homemade pico de gallo, corn, cheese, beans, guac, and lettuce. It was a big hit and everyone went to bed with happy tummies. 😋

Day Itinerary
(9/19/23) Day 45

5am - Wake up, breakfast
5:30am - Hike Half Dome via JMT (16.4mi, 5,408ft el gain)
7pm - Get back to campsite by around this time, eat dinner, and rinse off
9pm - Go to bed

The hike took longer than expected because I had to wait for my Mom on the ascent. (Everyone in your party needs to be present at the permit check point.) If any of you have hiked with family before... you know. Anyway, the hike up to the sub dome was like any other standard hike. Once we passed the permit check point, the hike turned into what felt like a steep 45° angle rocky trail.

When I finally saw the cables, I got really nervous.😰It just looked so vertical. I had a death grip on those cables and I was so hyper aware of the people around me. I had no intentions of getting taken out by someone else. The granite was also slick and had very little grip from weathering so the only spots I was able to get a good foothold were at the planks of wood or standing right on the metal poles that were holding up the cables. Every movement and placement of my hands and feet was done very carefully. 

Me on top of Half Dome
Me on top of Half Dome

It’s hard to describe the adrenaline rush of making it to the top of one of the U.S.’s most dangerous hikes and no longer fearing for my life. Also, having known about this hike at a really young age, thinking this was something I could never do, but actually accomplishing it, felt like a full circle moment. I was really proud of myself.😁

My sister, Cam and I (my Mom didn’t go up the cables) took a long break at the top, snapped some pictures, and had some snacks. We were about to head down when a couple rock climbers finished climbing the face of Half Dome which was super cool.🤯 I’ve never been in that close of proximity to climbers who’ve just finished a large wall before. I felt like I was in the presence of people who were next level humans because what they did is ACTUALLY something I could never do. 

I was beyond relieved to make it back to our campsite right as it was starting to get dark because I was dog tired. Food had never tasted better, and sitting down and taking off my shoes 🥾 had never felt better.

Day Itinerary
(9/20/23) Day 46

8am - Wake up, breakfast
10:30am - Explore Lower Yosmite Falls, check out visitor center
2pm - Head back to campsite, relax, rinse off in river
5pm - Eat dinner, relax
8pm - Make s'mores!!!
9pm - Go to bed 🌌

I had plans of doing smaller hikes the day after Half Dome but I was wiped. So we had a chill day of exploring and relaxing. Cam and I rock scrambled a little to make it to the bottom of Lower Yosemite Falls and got in the frigid water. We also watched a short but informative film about Yosemite National Park at the Visitor Center and even ‘won’ a few hats at a North Face pop up tent. 

Cam at the bottom of Lower Yosemite Falls
Cam at the bottom of Lower Yosemite Falls

Throughout our day we would look up at Half Dome and it would hit us that we were up there just yesterday. From the valley, Half Dome looked so tall and impossible, which made what we accomplished so incredible.

Later that evening, our campsite neighbors surprised us by sharing some of their s’mores supplies with us. I think the parents were trying to teach their kids a lesson about giving back and being generous. (Glad we could play our part haha.) Even though I had already brushed my teeth, I gladly made myself two Kit Kat 🍫and peanut butter s’mores. Cam, my sister, and I were thrilled and I couldn’t have thought of a better way to end the day.

Me enjoying a s'more
Me enjoying a s'more
Day Itinerary
(9/21/23) Day 47

7am - Wake up, breakfast, Cam hikes Upper Yosemite Falls (6.6mi, 3,254ft el gain), pack up cars
11:30am - Meet up with family, Cam rinses off
12pm - Drive to El Cap Meadow and Yosemite Valley View
1pm - Drive home, eat at In N Out 🍔 on the way back

On our last day, Cam was the only one with enough energy to hike Upper Yosemite Falls. So he got up bright and early to do it. I think he ran most of the trail. I helped my family pack up the cars and then we all met up to visit the El Cap Meadow and Yosemite Valley View (my dad’s favorite spot). We got In N Out as our post camping trip meal and as usual, it was so good. Nothing beats a double double w/ grilled onions, well-done fries 🍟, and a neapolitan shake. 

This concludes Cam’s and my 6 week summer road trip. If you haven’t read about our time in Grand Teton National Park, Utah, Canada, or even Western CO, be sure to check those out! I also have a couple posts about how much the trip cost and the bingo card we created. I had a lot of fun writing about each part of our trip and enjoyed sharing it with you over the last couple of months. 💛