Fourth weeks of government shutdown I wanted to share this blog post that has been in my drafts ´things-that-I-need-to-finnish´ folder for way too long. Read more about what you can do to help during the government shutdown here: nationalparks.org. In honor of all National Parks that I love (I´ve actually not been to that many, but they are ALL on my list) I want to highlight this beautiful, affordable way of travel, explore new beautiful landscape and nature. Top 5, or rather, Top 5 was my initial thought until I realized that we only did about exactly five things during the 48 hours we had in Yosemite last October, so I decided to rename it ´Things to explore in Yosemite if you have less than 48 hours´
It wasn’t my first time in Yosemite, but if you’ve been there you know that twice and not even after the third time you go you will have seen it all. My first time was in 2016. It was after my first GoPro trip, the launch of Hero 5, I had been sharing my adventures on Instagram for only a year. I didn´t know half of what I know now about photography, so I don’t have that many photos to share from my first trip, also, they are on a different hard drive that has an old USB connector and I don´t have an adapter for my ´only type C ports´ thank you very much Apple, laptop. So to share the photos I would have to fire up my Microsoft Surface….remember my password for it, find my old hard drive (in a box stored very well somewhere) plug it into my Surface, email the photos to me (can´t we just make an Airdrop version that works PC to MAC?) download them to my mac and then share them on here…. now I’m I´m actually curious so I think I´ll go for that Surface….throwback 2016.
Fast forward, October 2018, we hadn’t really planned anything before coming here, been too busy with our everyday lives and work that we hadn’t had time, but has been said so many times before, the spontaneous trips will always be the best, no expectations….no disappointments.
My Yosemite Top 5...or ´Yosemite in 48 hours´ #5 Listen to all the El Capitan climbers at night. #4 Drive with no plans. #3 Glacier Point Road. #2 4-mile trek up and down and stop for sunset. #1 Taft Point.
#5. Park your car close to El Capitan at night, let your eyes adjust to night vision, pull the car windows down and just listen. Listen and look towards El Captian and see all the lights from the climbers, like little stars on the mountain wall. On average it takes several days and years of experience to climb the 3000 feet El Captian. On a Saturday, June 3rd, 2017 Free Solo Climber Alex Hannold climbed it in less than four hours…3000 feet no rope, no safety harness, read more about that here: link I get vertigo by just looking at the photos from this climb and I can’t wait to watch the documentary available on IMAX as we speak: link
#4 Drive with no plans. Don´t plan everything, get in the car and drive wherever the roads take you, turn left where you planned to take a right, you might get surprised.
#3 Glacier Point Road. We found this spot on Instagram searching on hashtags from Yosemite. This spot makes the perfect photo opportunity and views over Half Dome, especially at sunrise. We went here the day before and used ´Sun Seeker´app to see exactly where and when sunrise would be and went back the next morning. During the two/three hours that we stayed taking photos, there were only three others that stopped, we basically had the whole place to ourselves. Too many just drives passed on their way to the more popular Glacier Point that is just down the road, to me, this spot is ten times better!
#2 The 4-mile trail up and down stopped for sunset. After some research, we decided that we wanted to do the 4 miles trail (in real life 5.9 miles) hike from Yosemite Valley to Glacier Point, one way. We planned to hike both up and down making it the double. As both of us are ridiculously slow in the morning we didn’t get started before 1:32 pm and it took us just over 2 hours to get to the top making some photo and viewpoint stops along the way. We got to the top and enjoyed the view of Half Dome together with thirty maybe fifty other tourists, it wasn’t as busy as I expected it to be but we didn’t stay very long knowing that we would have to make it back to the Valley before it got dark. Yosemite is a National Park and I love that we are visitors and we have to adapt to the wildlife living here.
On our way back, approximately 20 minutes from the top they have this amazing viewpoint over El Capitan and the valley, the sun was just about to set and no way we would pass on this opportunity. We decided to make a stop for some photos, it was slowly getting dark and I for sure wanted to get to the bottom and the car before it was getting dark, not only is it at night that the wildlife wakes up, it is also no one else there, no one is as stupid to hike here at night.
We totally lost track of time and as we put our cameras back in the bag it was already almost completely dark and we had at least three miles left to get to the bottom of the hike. I, slightly scared of the dark we made a run for it, slipping and skidding all the way down, this was the first time I regretted wearing my Converse with zero grips, and next time I will invest in a proper pair of hiking boots. I was using my cell phone as a torch, missing the fresh bear poo and almost splashed my feet right into it. I don´t recommend to do this hike at night, if you want to get this sunset view I recommend you park your car at the top, walk down (approximately 15 minutes) and then walk back up again before it gets too dark, Yosemite does have bears and it´s important that you respect that.
#1 Number One! Taft Point I have never seen anything like this. But be careful, this place has killed more people than bear ever could in Yosemite! It´s the perfect sunset viewpoint, which also means that you will be there until after dark, with no warning signs or lights it is vertical 90 degrees 2000 meter straight down! (Don´t get me wrong, I don´t want signs everywhere in Yosemite, I love that they keep it as close to nature as they can, that´s why I mention it here, BE CAREFUL).
Colors shifting from fire yellow to passionate red and purple casting it´s lights perfectly over El Capitan, I remember sitting here imagining what it would be like climbing El Capitan and what the view looked like from there. Taft Point has without a doubt become my favorite view in Yosemite, next time I´ll bring a basket of snacks and make a sunset picnic out of it, but don´t think you´ll have a romantic only the two of you picnic, this place is crowded with a mix of tourists, wedding photos being taken and photographers a no wonder, it´s one of the best sunsets I’ve ever witnessed.
As always, ask me anything in the comments or reach out to me on my Instagram @pilotmara.
Read more about the parks and what you can do to help during government shutdown here:
English is not my first language so please forgive typos, misspellings, and grammar.