Hiking Yosemite Park

Sitting on the edge of Eagle Point

Sitting on the edge of Eagle Point

This September, I decided the best way to enter my 27th year on this wonderful planet was to head to the mountains and get "lost" in nature. I specifically wanted to explore Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. I was a little uneasy about backcountry hiking and camping alone in a park I wasn't familiar with, so I decided to go on a guided backpacking trip with Yosemite Mountaineering School. I haven't done any guided tours before, so I wasn't sure what to expect. As it turned out, it was one of the best trips and experiences I have ever had.

Half Dome

The group was small; just myself, another Canadian by the name of Anna, a German man named Marcus, and our amazing guide, Edwin Santiago.  It’s a little nerve-wracking being stuck in close contact with people you don’t know for a few days, but on the Friday we all met, our group just clicked. It was in the first ten minutes, Anna and I decided to just share a tent instead of us both carrying one around for three days. Marcus is a genius in biology, filled with facts and Eddie is the easily one of the most interesting people I have ever met. If you ever have the chance of meeting him, you will be enchanted.

Before the hiking trip, I stayed in a cute, but extremely busy Curry Village. Hundreds of people coming in from their day of exploring and staying the night in the tents/cabins. After having a long travel day, I decided to have a quick shower, head to bed, and avoid the chaotic tourists. I wanted to be well rested for the three-day adventure. The first day of the hike, we drove about 45 minutes out of the valley towards Tamarack Campground. From there, we hiked in about 7 miles, stopping to taking in the hazy views of the Sierra mountains. Temperatures rising to 90 degrees Fahrenheit by the late afternoon, we decided to take a break/ mini nap in the shade before continuing on to our first camping spot. (Naps outside are the best!) The great part about backcountry hiking here in Yosemite, is that there are no campgrounds up on the trails. The general rule is to find a clearing about 100 feet off of the trail and set up camp there.

The second day (my birthday!) was the most epic day. First, we hiked up to El Capitan. From there, we took in the views of Yosemite Valley and Half Dome. Then we continued on towards Eagle Point, situated between El Capitan and Yosemite Falls. This is where I sat on the ledge of a rock, feet dangling 3000 feet above the valley floor. I was terrified to say the least, but Eddie got me out there and kept me safe! (Thanks Eddie!) We soon found another spot to spend the night. It was just us, alone in the woods with nothing but a million stars and complete silence. This park is the place to go when you want nothing but the great outdoors.

Dangling my feet 3000 feet above the Yosemite Valley Floor (Eagle Point) Photo by Edwin Santiago

Our third day, we headed to the dried up, Yosemite Falls. It was still a beautiful lookout point; we could see the valley floor, Half Dome, and the unfortunate forest fire that started up on the north side of the mountains. After taking in the views, we started our descent back to the valley floor. It was five miles of steep switchbacks and tons of day hikers. Once we reached the bottom, it was almost a culture shock being around so many people and tourists again. The silence and calmness of the mountains were gone and once again we were immersed in chaos.

Words cannot describe how exquisite and serene Yosemite is. Pictures do not do the beauty of nature justice. If you like the outdoors, trust me on this one and head to Yosemite. You will not be disappointed. It was the best birthday I have ever had and easily one of the best experiences of my life.


First day on the trails

Half Dome

View of Half Dome from El Capitan

Yosemite at dusk

Yosemite at dusk

Standing at the edge of Yosemite Falls

Standing at the edge of Yosemite Falls (forest fire in the distance)


About Kait C (88 Articles)
I'm working on see the entire world, one country at a time…31 down, 165 to go. Currently in Berlin.

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