I’ve lived in California for almost a dozen years and in that time I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve just now visited Yosemite. Sure, I had a relatively legit excuse given that in those years, I’ve either been pregnant or had a kid way too young to take hiking through one of the most beautiful places on earth.
Now that all the kids can walk a few miles, this Yosemite vacation was going to be Griswold-esque. Yes, there are plenty of great places to stay in and near Yosemite, but since this was going to be an epic trip, I decided only camping in Yosemite would do. Turns out, I’m not the only one with this opinion. That’s why if you want to camp in Yosemite, you have to book a reservation six MONTHS in advance. I’m not normally one to plan vacations or anything else that far in advance, but for this I did. So did lots of other people. When the online reservations opened at 7 am back in February, I was ready. I found a spot in Yosemite Valley, but the website crashed and when I went to refresh, my spot was gone! I had to settle for the Wawona campground in southern Yosemite, 26 miles away from Yosemite Valley. At first I was disappointed, but now I see it was one of the best places imaginable for our family.
Wawona Campground sits right along the Merced river, and unlike the camp sites available in the Valley which are right on top of each other, our site was relatively spacious.
It’s also close to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, and after we set up camp, we hopped onto a shuttle to check out the humongous trees.
While hiking along a path paved with the biggest trees in the world, the girls whined a lot. This hike wasn’t even hilly or long. If this was a precursor to what to expect on much longer and steeper hikes, the husband and I were in trouble. We didn’t pack enough wine to deal with all this whining. That’s why I resorted to bribery. I told them if they didn’t whine during the next day’s hike, they’d get ice cream.
It was a brilliant move on my part because I had big ambitions of hiking to Vernal Falls. It’s an awe-inspiring hike, but also one that’s almost 3.5 miles and very steep.
It may take them years before they admit this, but I’m sure at some point the girls will agree the long, winding, and steep hike was well worth getting close enough to the falls to feel the mist on their faces.
As this is one of the most well-traveled hikes in all of Yosemite, we had plenty of company, which got a bit annoying when trying to get our own photos of this famous landmark.
Once we made it back to our campsite, the girls got their ice cream. I would have taken a picture but I was too busy eating my own well-deserved ice cream bar.
The next day we took it easy for a couple of reasons. First, Erin kept complaining that her butt cheeks hurt from hiking the day before. I have to admit, mine did too. Plus, we had to make a stop at urgent care. Yes, a trip for us wouldn’t be complete without visiting an urgent care.
This is what prompted the visit. An insect either bit or stung Olivia on the hand, causing it to triple in size.
The doctor checked it out, didn’t think it was infected and gave us the green light to continue on with our Yosemite adventures. We opted for a much easier hike to Mirror Lake. Unfortunately because of how dry it has been this year, there’s not much of a lake.
The views however, are still awe-inspiring.
The outdoor seating for lunch was pretty good too….
with one exception. The yellow jackets. When we sat down on this lovely rock for lunch, we didn’t see any. As soon as we opened our lunch, they started swarming around us. They weren’t the only buzz kill of the afternoon. The Benadryl the doctor gave Olivia for her insect bite kicked in and she barely finished the hike. Carrie had her own problems when about 50 yards from the end of the trail, she face-planted while racing Erin. Tears ensued, but at least it gave Olivia a distraction, as she went into big sister mode consoling her and cleaning up a skinned knee.
Not to be outdone by her sisters, Erin decided Yosemite would be a perfect place to pull out a tooth.
To her defense, the tooth was more than ready to come out, and it was more of a tug than a pull.
By our final day all minor aches and pains were mostly forgotten, (Olivia’s hand was still swollen) and on our way out of Wawona, we stopped for one last activity. A stagecoach ride.
It was totally kitsch, but the kids loved it.
There’s no doubt we’ll return to Yosemite. Will we put in all the work and planning and stuff our car to the roof again?
Now that I’ve had a long hot shower and will soon sleep in my nice comfy bed, I’m more than ready to do it again and you should too.