I went to Yosemite for the first time last weekend! Well, technically, it was the second time I’ve visited but I was three years old when my parents brought me and I have no recollection of that trip. The reason why I was able to visit Yosemite was through the professional fraternity I am a part of, Phi Epsilon Kappa. This weekend trip was our first brotherhood retreat and it was amazing! In addition to the absolutely stunning views I was able to experience in person, I also got to spend time with my friends away from school and home. To be honest, I forgot how different it is to travel with friends than with family. Don’t get me wrong, I adore traveling with family, but the travel experience is so different when you are with your friends. The closest thing that I can compare this experience with is having a sleepover with your closest friends minus the parental supervision. I could talk about the differences between traveling with friends and family but I digress; that’s another post for another time! I’ll be recapping my fast, but fun weekend Yosemite trip so if you are interested in reading about my experience and/or are curious to see some pictures, please keep on reading!
This retreat has been planned for about a good month beforehand, so we were able to get a good deal on Airbnb to rent a house nearby Yosemite National Park. We stayed one night in a spacious 4 room, 2 story house in Oakhurst, CA about 45 minutes away from Yosemite. There were sixteen of us that went on this retreat and we all fit in the house comfortably. Although I love to camp, I’d definitely recommend Airbnb instead of camping in the cooler climate months. Left campus Saturday morning to make the 2 and a half hour drive to Yosemite National Park, visited Glacier Point, and returned back home late Sunday morning. Although we only stayed one night, the retreat was just what I needed to get away from home and school to have fun in nature. Here’s a recap of how I prepared for the trip and what I did in Yosemite:
Friday night-Packing: Since my family avoids the whole hassle of checking in luggage, I have always been conditioned to pack light. By light, I mean that I only travel with either a backpack or duffel bag that can be a carry-on. My time pinning packing lists and folding techniques on Pinterest have helped me become a smart packer. When I traveled to Oahu two summers ago with my family, I was able to fit a week’s worth of clothes in just a backpack; I even had some clothes I didn’t wear on that trip and still think that I could have lasted another week. Anyhow, the picture below shows everything I brought for this weekend trip. I’ll recreate my packing list in a separate post that will be posted soon, but one thing that I wish I had brought was a proper pair of hiking boots. I had hiked in my old running shoes and it was fine, but at the end of the day, my feet were sore and my shoes were worn out and incredibly dirty.
Saturday-Visiting Glacier Point and Hiking: So after we settled our stuff into the house, we finally made our way over to Yosemite National Park. What surprised me most about driving within the park was how vast the park was. I’ve seen the iconic pictures of El Capitan and Half Dome but actually driving though the park for almost an hour to get to Glacier Point really opened my eyes to the commanding, beautiful views that Yosemite has.
When we finally parked our cars and walked out to Glacier Point, I able to take in the sight of Half Dome in person. Being in a national park never fails to make me feel small in comparison to my surroundings, but I felt especially small, taking the sights from that far up. Half Dome’s majestic-ness honestly made me tear up a bit. I also couldn’t help but think, “How the hell did my dad hike up that twice without dying?!” I seriously give huge kudos to those that have hiked Half Dome before, that’s one impressive feat for sure!
Since there was a slight miscommunication within my group, me and a some friends broke off to go on a 2 mile hike to the Illilouette Falls. The hike was gorgeous as Half Dome can be seen from all angles for the entire duration of the hike. Understandably, the first part of the hike going to the waterfall was downhill, making for a very interesting (to say the least) hike back to Glacier Point. It took us a good 40 minutes to go down to see the falls, since the trail had some rocky bits and many switchbacks. We didn’t even get to go all the way down to the water because it was getting dark and we didn’t want to keep the other group waiting. Nevertheless, we were still able to see the waterfall and take some awesome pictures.
We left Sunday morning to make it back in time to rest and get ready for the following week of classes. Going on this retreat and experiencing Yosemite for the first time and being able to remember it definitely gets me excited for my next visit back. I’d like to go on different hikes and would definitely want to try backpacking in Yosemite. If you have any suggestions about specific trails I should go on, have advice about how to prepare for a backpacking, or even hiking boot suggestions, please let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading!