Yosemite is a favorite getaway for our family. We usually visit in the spring, when the temperature’s warming up nicely, and the waterfalls are still alive and well. The last couple of years we’ve gone over Memorial Day with family friends, which I’ll say up front is the absolute busiest time. If you’ve got some flexibility in your schedule, avoid this weekend, otherwise book way ahead of time (like a full year!) and use the shuttle buses, rent a bike, or walk to get around. If you’ve got a car, park it and leave it. If you move it anytime before your departure, your space will disappear faster than the park’s resident chipmunks can steal your trail mix.
For all the years we’ve been visiting Yosemite, the first thing I do in the morning after taking in those first gulps of fresh air is look up. The park’s towering granite and soaring sequoias defy gravity and pull your gaze to the heavens. But this time around, we had unusual weather for what’s supposed to be the unofficial start of summer. After a winter in Northern California that seemed a lot more like a pleasant fall or spring, fog, rain, and cooler-than-normal temperatures settled in. I emerged from our tent cabin at Curry Village and looked up as I usually do, only this time all I could see was bright, white nothingness, otherwise known as fog.
Of course, when you plan a year in advance to visit Yosemite (or any place for that matter), there’s not much you can do about the weather, so we went ahead with our hiking plan and packed rain ponchos just in case. We had already checked off a lot of hikes in the park, and this time around, our group decided to start from the Glacier Point overlook, about an hour drive from Curry Village, and then hike down to the Valley floor via the Panorama and Mist trails. This strenuous 8-1/2 mile route passes three spectacular waterfalls – Illilouette, Vernal, and Nevada.
It was clear from the drive up through sometimes treacherous patches of dense fog we’d be missing out on the spectacular views for which the Panorama Trail is named. The unusual weather did, however, make for a unique perspective on the park and some interesting, and eerie, photos.