Yosemite National Park, California
Alright so hopefully I have not lost any of you yet on my West Coast food adventure (ahem I mean Honeymoon!) If you missed Part 1 go back and read it here! Our next stop after San Francisco was Yosemite National Park and boy was I blown away! Most people get starstruck by actors and models but me? I get star struck my nature and the wonderful sights that go with it…and sometimes food 🙂
That being said the second we even got CLOSE to Yosemite I was starstruck. I kept saying to JJ “This is UNREAL, are you KIDDING ME?” He just kept smiling his charming smiling and rolling his eyes under his sunglasses at me. When we got close we passed a lot of food stands and farms. Apricots seemed to be a lot of what we were passing but JJ wanted to make it to Yosemite ASAP so I just looked longingly out the window. We ended up stopping in some SMALL and I mean SMALL town to grab waters, a cooler, and some ice just in case we ran into any high temperatures on our climb up to the mountains.
From there we CLIMBED (in the car of course) up the windiest roads I have ever seen in my life. And of course there was a sheer cliff on the passenger side so naturally I was leaning as far as I could with my seat belt on into JJ as I swore I was going to roll down the hill (completely rational I know.) The views were just amazing but my heart was skipping a few beats every hairpin turn we rounded.
Since it was Day 1 we had planned on just doing a 2 mile hike and then calling it quits as we had just crammed 10 miles of San Francisco in the day before. Well, we really can not do low-key and the weather was GORGEOUS and if you know us at all you know we can NOT sit still.
Luckily we had grabbed some breakfast (fruit and eggs) at The Inn that morning and I had a cup of coffee so we were not starving….that was until we got on top of our first mountain so let me THANK first Steve’s Paleo Goods for having AMAZING jerky that is grass-fed and super clean and to top it off super delicious and tasty…I would also like to thank myself for thinking ahead of time and packing jerky in our back packs…I had an inkling we were going to hike more than 2 miles 🙂
So what did we do first you ask? Well if you have ever been to Yosemite you know that you literally cannot go 100 yards without a look out or pull-off. Some of them are just for big RVs to pull over and let smaller (read: faster) cars pass but a lot of them have an amazing view just a few steps away. So being that I had never been there before I pretty much had JJ pull over to as many look outs as possible and holy beautifulness! The first 2 sightings of Half Dome blew me away and I seriously could have stared at it all day…which I guess is what happened we just did a lot of hiking and driving to do so.
Then we drove over to the Glacier Point area of the park and found some parking (it was pretty crowded) near the entrance of Sentinel Dome and Taft Point hiking areas. I had no idea what to expect as JJ had done all the planning for this part of the trip I was just along for the ride. We got to the trailhead and it pointed one way towards Sentinel Dome (1.1 miles) and one way towards Taft Point (1.1 miles). We decided to start with Sentinel Dome and then go from there.
The hike in was pretty easy and no big boulders were in our way like they are in the Adirondacks. The weather was perfect, no humidity and the sun was shining bright for us to see for miles. Before we hit the last big climb up to the dome that is Sentinel Dome we found a little cut over that looked back at Sentinel Dome. There was no one there so naturally I thought that bears would attack but JJ figured we’d check it out to get away from the crowds. The view was pretty neat…and NO bear sightings!
The final climb up Sentinel Dome was a little steep, some hand use was needed to pull myself up there. There are barely any trees up top so you have a full 360 degree view of the valley with Half Dome and El Capitan in plain sight. I was in awe it was just beautiful. We took a few pictures and then realized how hungry we were so we chowed down on our Steve’s Paleo Stix an apple each and sat down for some R&R (for maybe 2 minutes…)
I must mention that the whole time we are hiking we are drinking water as we both have matching purple his/hers camelbacks (they were on sale otherwise there is no way JJ would pick purple…). It is super important to hydrate especially while climbing and hiking, sorry had to have my dietitian plug somewhere!
The plan was to hike back down the way we came and head back out of the park, but we were so enthusiastic to be there that we decided to hike around to Taft Point. The trail there from Sentinel Dome is not well-marked but easy enough to find. Of course, there was no one on the trail so I once again I had worries about bears and other creatures but we came out unscathed. It was probably another mile or 2 to Taft Point and pretty flat at that, there was NO ONE on this trail until we reached the point itself. It was so cool to be in nature without any connection to our phones or computers…just the 2 of us and the beautiful sights of Yosemite!
When we reached Taft Point we were once again blown away by the beauty. We hung out on the point for a while and JJ took probably 200 photos. We then hopped over to Glacier Point which has spectacular views of Yosemite Valley with no hiking experience or effort needed! We kind of rushed through this as we were tired, hungry and knew we had an hour plus ride back to our hotel for the night!
On our way out of the park we ran into a line of cars which seemed odd since it was not all that crowded. Our hangry selves were at first about to go ham sandwich (disclaimer I don’t eat such things) on them for keeping us from food and then we saw everyone get out of their cars….
So bears DO exist outside of National Geographic. I mostly stayed in the car while JJ took photos and while everyone else tried to get closer. I know that bears will protect their young (and there was a bear cub behind her) so I was going to keep the Nissan Altima and other Yosemite visitors between me and her 🙂
The hour-long drive back was kind of fun, it was a windy road and no one for miles with scenery you only see on TV so how could I complain! My stomach on the other hand was not so happy. It was not until we got to the town of Oakhurst (where we stayed) that I could use my phone to use Yelp to find us the fastest food we could find. That is how I came across this place that we absolutely LOVED called South Gate Brewing Company. They specialize in burgers and beer so match made in heaven (I love burgers, JJ loves beer!) for us honeymooners!
We actually ate here both nights that we stayed in Oakhurst as we just LOVED the satisfying food and the comfortable laid back atmosphere. The service was amazing too and we got water in a mason jar so no complaints here. After dinner we ran into their local grocery store Raley’s to grab food for breakfast and lunch the next day. We crashed hard this night as we had probably crammed in 6 miles worth of hiking.
So Day 4 of our Honeymoon we started BRIGHT AND EARLY because we could not wait to go check out Yosemite all day long. I had leftover coffee from Philz in SF that I heated in the microwave and we both had some leftovers from dinner the night before for our breakfast along with apples and Rickaroons! Oh my goodness have I not told you about Rickaroons YET?!? These amazing balls of glory are just packed with tons of nutrients and fill you right up when you are in a rush (or just need some fuel!) They saved me on many of our hiking days because you can eat them while hiking with NO mess and not to mention they pack easily and taste DELICIOUS! So shout out to Rickaroons 🙂
Well day 2 at Yosemite started out with fully bellies and rain showers but that was not about to stop us! We stopped at SO many look outs because I just had to know what was beyond them! We even stopped at the swinging bridge…although it was a bridge that did not swing…
We started at Bridalveil Falls…appropriate I know! And then we decided to head over to Vernal Falls which is UPHILL the entire way holy smokes! Right before we got up the last ascent of Vernal, JJ took me off the path and right near the falls…we were soaking wet but it was super cool and totally worth it!
Once at the top of Vernal Falls you can peak over the side and then head back towards the emerald pool area (it’s not a swimming pool). This is where we decided to set up our lunch. Well apparently most people do this because we had some squirrels get super close to us trying to eat our lunch, how rude!
There is our lunch consisting of a can of tuna each, snap peas, jerky and almond butter. We each also had an apple but ended up eating that on the top of the next falls. Once we devoured our lunch we got back on the path and headed up to Nevada Falls. There were so many switchbacks and it was semi-challengeing but definitely worth the view.
On the top of Nevada falls we could actually see back to the Glacier Point area where we hiked the previous day, pretty neat! Once on top we explored and hung out for a while. JJ had a field day with his camera and I almost lost it when he did this:
I am happy to report we both made it back in one piece. While on top we actually met a girl wearing a Cornell baseball cap and of course I had to ask her if she went there. Turns out she is starting her freshman year this Fall! I was so excited for her and wish her the best, what a small world it is. We then made the trek back down which was actually more difficult than the way up because the rocks were slippery and it was quite the steep descent and our legs were jello!
Once down we decided to call it quits for the day after all we had probably hiked close to 10 miles with all the little side trips we did and our feet were screaming, well at least mine were! We decided to head to the Ahwahnee Hotel in the middle of Yosemite Valley. It is a super fancy hotel where apparently you need a jacket and tie (for men) just to eat dinner! Seems odd since most people are sweaty and dirty all day from hiking but we decided we would change quickly into semi decent clothes and grab a drink just to say we were there 🙂
Boy am I glad we did! The view was AMAZING. We sat in 2 Adirondack chairs and I ordered a Sauvignon Blanc from somewhere in Napa Valley and JJ got a beer. It felt great to take a load off of our feet and just soak in the nature. In the courtyard where we were facing there were kids playing duck, duck, goose with no signs of iPhones anywhere, it was quite refreshing!
Once we started to get hungry we hopped back in the car and headed back to Oakhurst. We had every intention of grabbing a nicer dinner at a steakhouse but we both had a hankering for burgers again so we headed back to South Gate Brewing Co. for burgers and drinks! If you are ever in that area I HIGHLY recommend it!
We called it quits for the night and decided to wake up early to make the trek to South Lake Tahoe in the morning! That is all I will leave you with for now, stay tuned for Part 3 where I will take you through our time in South Lake Tahoe and beyond and you will learn about my FAVORITE hiking spot!
Until next time Stay Sassy!