Pete bought me one of the best birthday presents I’ve ever received: a trip to Yosemite from Madison, WI (read how he did it in his post). To pack the most punch into our 2 days at the park, I did some research and chose the 4 mile hike and the Panorama trail (14 miles combined) based on difficulty level and sight-seeing reviews.
Day 1: Friday, Sept. 5, 2014
We flew from Madison to Fresno after work. It was late when we got to Fresno, so we got a rental car & stayed in a cheap airport hotel.
Day 2: Saturday
We woke up at the buttcrack of dawn and drove to Yosemite. The drive was about 2 1/2 hours to the trail-head; we wanted to make it there by 8am so we could finish our 14 mile hike in sunlight. We parked near the 4 mile trail-head and began our 7-8 hour journey. A mistake: we each carried a large backpack: not recommended.
The 4 Mile Hike
Despite its approachable name, the 4 mile hike was one of the most grueling we’ve ever done; partially because we carried way too much weight. Recommendation: bring light-weight day packs/backpacks to carry water (as much as you can) and snacks. The hike was pretty much straight up the mountain in switch-backs; don’t forget to look behind you as you go so you don’t miss the sights! We felt like we earned the incredibly rewarding view of Glacier Point (at least more than the people who drove up there).
The Panorama Trail
Some bagels & peanut butter left us feeling refreshed and ready to continue. After so much ascending, the Panorama trail was absolutely heavenly. The views were incredible and got better as we went. There’s a tranquil pool at the bottom of the trail; take some time to dip your feet in the water and lay on the partially submerged rock. This trail was pretty secluded and not crowded; we thoroughly enjoyed having nature to ourselves for a long stretch.
When it was time to continue, the rest of the trail didn’t get easier, but the views did not disappoint. We didn’t realize that the Panorama trail actually turns into the Mist trail (Yosemite’s “signature hike”), so we were excited to see Vernal Falls (and the water fountains there) along with other famous sites (Nevada Fall, Liberty Cap and many sides of the Half Dome).
Just as our knees were about to give way, we sprinted & caught the bus at the Panorama/Mist Trail trail-head – we got super lucky & the bus was waiting for a few deer to clear the road. The bus runs from 7am to 10pm – check out the valley shuttle map.
When we got to our camp site, we were completely exhausted, but still had to set up our tent. Since the sun had set, we used the light of our trusty rental car to set up, then went to Curry Village for some noms. They had a great pizza place (and beer!). We slept like babies.
Day 3: Sunday
Since we did all the hikes I had planned for the whole weekend in one day (and I had blisters the size of quarters), we took it easy and perused the gift shop, ate some ice cream, and began our drive back to Fresno. We stopped for lunch at a cute Mexican restaurant – El Cid in Oakhurst, CA – for some salt on salt (our fave: margs & chips).
If you’re heading to Yosemite & looking for hike ideas, reach out and I can share my extensive google doc 🙂