I’m absolutely and completely in love with my life and the friends I get to live it with. This past weekend, seventeen of us from my floor took a retreat to Yosemite National Park! I’m so in awe of the wonder and beauty that surrounded us and the community we all built with each other. Although we only did one hike for the day, there was always more to explore and deeper woods to traverse. It was like the hike was never ending and the land was infinite.
I was a driver so I wasn’t able to get too many pictures on the drive up. I missed a few exits and had to drive through downtown LA but the conversations that the girls in my car had were so beautiful and real; I couldn’t have asked for a better detour. We took the “long” way to avoid a windy road to the cabin, but oh my it was a sight. We drove by the most beautiful grove of pink and white trees, so beautiful that I pulled over to a screeching stop as we got out to admire and take pictures. We laughed because not too long into our stop we realized that the trees were completely inhabited by bees (thousands, millions of bees!) and kept going. We pulled over a few more times to stop and stare at the beautiful countryside covered in green grass, wildflowers, and wildlife (aka cows and horses).
We arrived at the cabin in time for dinner and some good laughs. The next caravan of girls came a bit later, so we all settled down and unpacked our things. A campfire complete with s’mores and music ended the first night on a great note.
We woke up fairly early so that we could get the most out of our day at the park. Some other girls and I watched the sunrise but it was kind of anticlimactic due to the surrounding mountains hiding the sunlight. After some breakfast, we headed out to Yosemite! It was my first time visiting and to say I was excited is an understatement. Twenty miles into the park, our caravan pulled over at the infamous Wawona Tunnel View. Oh golly, it was incredible. I have no words for how amazing it was; the waterfall, the trees, everything was perfect. About a mile and two jaw-dropping waterfalls later, we stopped at Curry Village (it’s some sort of campground I believe) to park our cars and catch the shuttle to our hike. While we waited, we all played in the snow and tried not to sink and trip in the less-than-fluffy ice.
Okay, some background first. I am usually the girl who lags a bit behind the group on a hike, or won’t finish a hike if I feel it’s too intense. Plus, knowing the distance can be mentally stressful. Our leaders told us that the hike was fairly easy, mostly an incline but nothing too serious. I heard what I thought was a mile and a half round trip, but boy was I wrong. It’s a mile and a half incline to the top of Vernal Falls and a mile and a half decline to the bottom. I didn’t discover this until we reached the bridge that crosses over the stream from the waterfall. At that point, my legs were burning from the extreme incline, but being around all of the other girls gave me so much energy/motivation to finish.
The rest of the hike was, for lack of a better word, brutal. And that’s not an exaggeration. After the bridge, there’s a bit more of a walk uphill before you reach the stone staircase that takes you to the top of the falls. My friends and I took our time, pacing ourselves, pushing ourselves, until we reached the top with a sense of victory and accomplishment. I was proud of myself, I was literally on top of the world. After some lunch and rest, we kept going back further and further into the woods at the top of the falls and found yet another bridge and another stream and more rocks to climb on.
We all wanted to keep exploring, but the sun was setting so we packed up and made the equally brutal trek back down. If you’ve ever worked out your legs and then tried going down a few flights of stairs, you probably know that your knees shake and there’s an imminent fear that your legs will give out and you’ll fall. Imagine that feeling, but hiking down a mile and a half of uneven stairs combined with steep declining hills. (I was sore for three days after this). I don’t think I have ever been so happy to see level ground.
My car wanted to catch the sunset at the Tunnel View, but the traffic was terrible trying to leave, so we pulled over in a random field and took pictures of the golden light hitting the surrounding mountains.
It took a long time just to get back to the cabin, but after some dinner, we all went to bed a bit early. The next day, we all headed back to school, slightly disheartened that the weekend had ended, but the memories we made will last a lifetime.