Last year Grandpa Ken’s sister Carol reserved rooms in Yosemite in the high season for a siblings retreat. Unfortunately she could not go. Fortunately me, Caleb, and the kids were able to fill the room. Unfortunately I’ve chosen to commemorate the vacation in a really long blog post. Fortunately it will be riveting the whole way through. Unfortunately … (maybe you’ve read the book). Joking aside we had a wonderful trip to Yosemite and we very happy we got to go, but also sad that Carol could not join.
I’ve been to Yosemite a few times before but never at the time of year that people actually want to go. So all my memories of Yosemite go something like: Will I really need hiking boots in the snow? OMG this place is so cold. Isn’t this an awfully cold place for morning sickness? Is that malfunctioning heater gonna hurt the unborn child? Isn’t this a cool place to show the kids snow? It better snow while we are here and not just be freezing cold. … But basically now I get it. Yosemite in June is amazing.
So what’d we do in Yosemite?
Well on our first day we climbed some cliffs near some waterfalls. This is known as the mist trail and is the most popular in the park. We tried to keep the kids focused on hiking but they kept scurrying off into nearby boulders. You see those little dots in the picture. Those are the kids off to the side of the trail.
We were hiking with Grandpa Ken, his brother Bill, Aunt Beth and their son Mike. Mike is an outdoor kind of guy. He has quit his day job to invent a special kind of backpack that can keep hikers from sweating.
As we got halfway up from Vernal Falls (the first waterfall) to Nevada Falls (the second waterfall) it started to thunder. Yosemite’s cliffs are made of granite and lightning off of them is no joke. So I started to get nervous and encourage folks to book it. First it started thundering. Then it started hailing. At which point I grabbed Lucy’s hand. “Is this as fast as you can move?” I asked and then I grabbed her hand started running with her down the hill. Lucy’s summary of the hike goes something like “mommy was scared”. But I feel justified because while everyone else seemed quite nonchalant it was me and Mike, the man who hikes so much he invents stuff to improve hiking, who wanted to get the hell off the mountain.
We came out safe and sound, had a great opportunity to discuss the difference between hail and freezing rain (hail freezing in the clouds, freezing rain on the ground), and were happy for another adventure the next day. Again the day started sunny as could be. The kids were splashing around in what is known as mirror lake … wonder how it got it’s name.
Then the skies opened up again for another storm. This time not being on a mountain top it was no problem. We just walked the mile out to the shuttle stop in the rain. Here is Lucy holding up an invisible umbrella that one of her fairy friends gave her. If you don’t believe in fairies then this umbrella will not keep you dry nor will you be able to see that it is keeping Lucy dry.
Fairies have become quite an interest of Lucy’s. She just explained to us that she was born to a bad fairy father and a good fairy mother and her good fairy mother died and so now Caleb and I are raising her. This is how she came to be half-fairy half-human.
Leo does not believe in fairies, nor do Caleb and I. We are also pretty sure that we are Lucy’s birth parents and no fairies were involved in her conception. Uncle Bill, however, claims to believe in fairies. Tinkerbell entered his life as a child as well and he used to jump off chairs trying to fly like Peter Pan.
Uncle Bill also likes to tell stories that imbue children with superpowers, kind of like how tinkerbell imbues children with superpowers. Many camping trips from his kids, Will, Mike and Sam’s, youth featured the superkids named Will, Mike and Sam with super powers. Superkids made an appearance on this trip as well. Here is uncle Bill telling the story of Leo and Lucy the superkids saying “one, two, make me a kangaroo … “ and then have magical jumping abilities
As we were falling asleep at night I overheard the kids discussing if these powers were true. Definitely not, explained Leo.
Now while me, Caleb, and the kids were enjoying mirror lake, everyone else decided to go on a famous hike to a place called “Clouds Rest” maybe because that is where the clouds take their rest. The group decided that the 16 mile version of this hike was not hard enough so they made it more fun by hiking back to the valley and totaling 19 miles of hiking.
The next day, not to be outdone by the 60-year-olds Caleb and I decided we needed to go our own athletic hike as well. I know I’m setting this up for humor but there really is none. Caleb and I actually did take a 16 mile, 5,000 ft elevation change hike up Yosemite falls and then down some other granite cliff back into the valley in the 95 degree weather. It was probably the most ambitious hike we have done together and also probably the most ambitious hike I have done on my own. The first part was straight up. This picture below might give you a sense of how high that is.
Getting up that cliff felt like it would never end. We had hiked for 2 hours. It was HOT. Did I mention it was 95 degrees? I was just putting one foot in front of the other. All of a sudden we met a smiling man on his way down. “Only 30 more minutes to the top!” he said. 30 more minutes! OMG I was hoping for 5 more minutes.
The same thing happened on our way down only this time we were the ones laughing. We were coming down another steep cliff in another part of the park. We’d been walking down the hill for about 40 minutes which must translate to something like 2 hours had we been doing the same distance going up when we ran into a couple. They looked at us hopefully: “are we almost there?” Well there really was no positive to way to spin it.
Most of the rest of the trip was spent hanging around in the Yosemite Valley with the kids. We took a bike ride out to El Capitan the largest piece of granite on earth.
Caleb was feeling really impressed with how “All American” looked in his baseball cap and bike.
Beth suggested that when the kids are bored we should play “I spy with my little eye …” you know the game where you see something and people guess what it is. So as we sat around looking up at the biggest piece of granite on earth we played “I spy”.
(Yep, that’s us lookin’ at it)
As it turns out, Lucy is not very fun to play with.
It goes like this. Lucy starts: I spy with my little eye something yellow … Is it Leo’s shoe? … No. … Is it mommy’s hat? … No. Is it that bee buzzing around … No. Is it? … No. Is it? … No, No, No.
Lucy: Only fairies can see it. It is a golden necklace.
You can see why Leo finds this fairy stuff a little tiring. Ok, next “I spy” no special fairy stuff.
Lucy starts: I spy with my little eye something blue. … Is it your backpack? … No … Is it .. No. What is it we give up?
Lucy: Oh wait you needa have xray vision to see it. It’s my stuffed lizard over there in the bag.
Along with biking, the kids swam in the Merced river, climbed around on boulders, and did a bunch of lollygagging. Ken is a very spry grandpa and along with 19 mile hikes he climbed up boulders with the kids.
Here is a picture of Grandpa Ken. Lucy had drawn one of him before that we always refer to affectionately and she wanted to update her artwork.
And thus ends the (LONG) story of our Yosemite vacation. It was so wonderful to see everyone.