Yosemite in May

All the way back in February I made reservations to camp at Yosemite National Park for my visiting cousins birthday. In the cold rain of Winter I was picturing the flowers and campfires of May. I was not disappointed. I spent Monday through Thursday before Memorial Day camping in Hodgdon Meadows and loving the small crowds. I would recommend this site to anyone who wants to escape the masses in the Valley for a restful nights sleep. However, there are no showers there (they are located in Curry Village) and many sites are slanted. I rented site DBL 10, which was very private and had a nice flat spot for the tents. Our first day was spent driving from the 5 and a half hour drive from the California Coast and setting up camp. Dinner was the real highlight, we had fresh grilled salmon with asparagus, quinoa and a nice rose from Quivira. That night I fell asleep happy only half listening for the sound of bears in the woods.

half dome from glacier point
Half Dome.

The next morning our camp woke up early in preparation for a drive over the Tioga Pass to Olmstead Point. I love Olmstead point and can remember going there as a child, having a blast climbing over the giant granite boulders. There is a great view of Half Dome off in the distance, it is easy to just sit and look at Olmstead Point where there are less crowds. After Olmstead Point we drove to Tuolumne Meadows, which I was hoping would be full of flowers. Unfortunately, it was too early in the season and the meadow was still full of large puddles of snow melt and the grass was brown with over saturation. We still decided to eat lunch at a nearby picnic area and enjoyed the brisk, high-altitude air. On the way down we went hiking along Yosemite Creek a little ways. The creek was rushing and beautiful, full of snow melt from this years Winter season. After our short hike I returned back to camp for a bottle of red wine and a game of Yahtzee. My cousin however hiked from Tuolumne Grove to our campsite an easy trail of five miles one way. Although she was unimpressed with the grove she enjoyed the walk and even saw a bear, who thankfully ran in the other direction.

Half Dome from olmstead
View of Half Dome from Olmstead Point. So much Granite!

Sarah Koch with Half Dome
Chillin’ with Half Dome at Olmstead Point.
Yosmite National Park Tenaya Lake
Tenaya Lake on the way to Tuolumne Meadows.

We spent our third day in the Valley admiring the waterfalls. We had  a short caravan mix up (we lost each other) at Bridalvail Falls, but managed to still enjoy their beauty. I love Bridalvail because it is so fleeting. In May the falls were gushing powerfully, but by June you can crawl around on the rocks at the edges of the pool. After Bridalvail I hiked the Mist Trail to Vernal Falls with my boyfriend and a friend. I had never hiked any of the falls in Yosemite Valley before and was not prepared for the beauty or the intensity of the hike. The hike gains about 1,000 feet of elevation in just under 1.5 miles, boy, where my calves burning. It was all worth it for the view, the waterfall rainbows and the cold, drenching, mist the covered the trail towards the base of the falls. If I had left earlier I may have continued the hike to Nevada Falls, as it was I was happy to just walk a short walk passed the Vernal Falls lookout to the Nevada falls viewing bridge. the trail head for Nevada falls and the Mist Trail is also the trail head for the Panorama Trail and the John Muir trail, which sends you off into back country, and is located just passed Curry Village. After the hike we headed back to camp for more Yahtzee and red wine.

mist tril vernal falls
The mistiest part of the Mist Trail on the way to Vernal Falls.
view from the top of vernal fals
View from the top of Vernal Falls.

I spent my final day in Yosemite with my boyfriend who had packed us a romantic picnic that ended with more red wine and chocolate. We spent the afternoon lounging by the Merced River at the Swinging Bridge Picnic area which has great views of Yosemite Falls. We had planned on doing the Half Valley Loop trail after lunch, but after all that wine and chocolate just couldn’t get up enough energy for the 6.5 mile loop. Instead, we drove up to Glacier Point and admired the views of the Valley and the falls we had hiked the previous day. The day was wonderful and a great, relaxing way to end our stay. We drove back down into the Valley to get a beer with my cousin at the Pub in Curry Village to celebrate her birthday. It was nice to have the option of a cold beer on tap, but I stuck with my red wine.

Yosemite National Park, California
View of Half Dome with Vernal and Nevada Falls in the distance from the lookout just before Glacier Point.
yosemite national park
Glacier Point with a view of Yosemite Falls, the longest waters fall in the United States.
yosemite national park
View of Bridal Vail Falls from the Tunnel View lookout on the way to Glacier Point.

My trip to Yosemite was perfect, the weather was great, the company was good, and the wine was better. I feel like I got to see a new side of the park so empty and quiet in late May when the waterfalls are rushing and the Dogwood is in bloom. I plan on going back next year and every year after that.

This week has been amazing and hectic. I promised a blog post on the Bay Area Maker Faire last Monday and failed to come through before my four nights in Yosemite. In order to make up for this broken promise I will summarize what I would have put in the missing post here. The Maker Faire was full of creative minds and talent. Robots and fire breathing dragons were among the installations that I saw. The Maker Fair was amazing, so amazing in fact that everyone wanted to get a chance to go. This may be the Maker Faire’s downfall, unless they find a better way to manage their crowds. Although I found the creative energy inspiring I was to overwhelmed by the crowd to participate in any workshops. However, I was awed by the outdoor installations. I love fire and was stoked to see some of the Burning Man style fire sculptures without having to brave the Playa. The Tesla Coil ArcAttack exhibit was a highlight and not to be missed. My boyfriend and his father even waited to see it up front and were awed by the lightning bolt sized sparks it emitted. All in all it was a good day full of creative minds.

burning man maker faire
Fire breathing dragon straight from Burning Man.
maker faire
I liked this piece, the white umbrella’s were misters and other’s obviously shot flames.
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