Asleep within minutes, we woke up the next morning almost flat to the ground again. I didn’t care as much as I was so thrilled my fear of bears subsided enough for me to sleep. However, after further inspection of our bed situation, there were clearly more holes than available patches in the Valley.
Quickly readying, I attempted to hide my hair in desperate need of a wash. The kid’s skin was turning a brownish hue and I worried our smell alone may solicit unwelcomed creatures. Hitting the showers in Curry Village was our highlight for the day. The ease and swiftness of this task allowed for our anticipated hike around Mirror Lake. Unfortunately, the dark clouds above followed suit to our steps as we neared the trailhead.
However, we decided to forge on and not let a few drops of rain melt us because for crying out loud, we are from Oregon! Attempting to rent ponies for the kids to ride, the two-week wait list was a deterrent. As we made our way, Brian and I soon enough realized time was of the essence as the storm moved closer. A quick decision resulted in making an abrupt U-turn as Mother Nature was winning and the kid’s skips turned to sprints. Suddenly falling in sheets, the rain left us running back to the campsite.
Luckily we had a canopy above the table for shelter, but other tent campers weren’t so lucky – especially the ones who were setting up their site. Puddles were turning our area into a creek. We stood still as the dry spots, even with overhead protection, were few and far between. Brian’s waterproof rain jacket didn’t hold up to its part of the bargain, leaving him drenched. He distracted (and warmed) himself, heating up dinner behind the camping stove.
The rain finally petered out in time to wash dishes after dinner. The kids zoomed around on their bikes before they zipped into their sleeping bags for the night. Starting a campfire would have been a futile attempt as there wasn’t a dry log in sight. The kids went down easily, exhausted from the intrigue of exploring and kindling all their senses. After some down time of reading and card games, Brian and I too crashed in anticipation of an earlier hike in case our canopy would need to be our safe haven for the afternoon again.
The next morning we woke bright and early to take advantage of the convenient Valley shuttle system. It landed us in the trailhead for Yosemite Falls. As the Littles couldn’t climb to Upper Falls, we picnicked around Lower Falls, followed by amusing ourselves with jumping along the large boulders. This entertainment lasted for a couple of hours before we slowly made our way back to the Village to go through Yosemite Museum, watch the historical movie (which we highly recommend) and peruse the gift shops. The teepees were a huge hit with the kids and a great photo op. Along the way, we caught glimpses of the Ahwahnee Hotel (now known as the Majestic Yosemite Hotel); a place I dream of staying one day – especially in the winter. However, my goal was still to warm up to tent camping.
Still having enough hours of dry and sunny weather, we made our way to Mirror Lake. After a pleasant hike, the Mirror Lake signed stared back at us, however, it was clearly no longer a lake, but instead a meadow. We kept hoping we would see some water and we finally did, but it resembled more of a creek running through a field; nonetheless it was breathtakingly beautiful. The vast view of the surrounding mountains made a bold statement and highlighted our miniscule presence on the Valley floor. We stared in awe, yet again, at the dark sky, which cued our steps back to camp.
Once we reached the main road, our steps proved to be too slow and we were forced to seek shelter underneath a tree from the downpour as we waited for Brian to retrieve the car. Finally back at our site, we resumed the same positions as the day prior and my impression of tent camping was on the downswing.
The next day was our last and sunshine was forecasted from dawn until dusk. As I zipped open the tent that morning, the fresh California air and sunshine poured in, serving as an immediate mood booster. To end on a high note, Vernal Falls was mapped out for the day. Just past the trailhead was a steep incline, which we endured until we reached the first summit of the Falls. Our youngest soon tired out, so took the best seat in the house and rode on Brian’s shoulders. The obvious fatigue and age of the young ones made for an easy decision to save the top of Vernal Falls for a later date. We still relished in the lower point of the Falls, soaking up the view and calming sounds of the waterfall.
Slowly walking back, we grasped onto the dry weather and surrounding glory. Once we arrived at the campsite, the kids hopped on their scooters and we made our way towards Yosemite Village. We were off for pizza and my mouth was watering just thinking about it. We leisurely dined before we embraced our walk back to camp. We paused on several occasions at the meadow across from Curry Village, meeting the local deer. The view of half dome locked my camera lens as I snapped photo after photo. As though the evening wasn’t perfect enough, we topped it off with s’mores around the campfire. That evening was without doubt, the unrivaled moment of our trip.
While my five nights entailed minimal discomfort – despite the cold rain – I did warm up to tent camping. I long for Yosemite as most do who are able to experience this National Park. Considered one of the most beautiful places in our country, I’m content I relived some of my favorite childhood memories with my children. The dirt, sleeping on a bed of twigs and rocks, as well as downpours, all went overlooked. We focused on the family time, warm days, hikes and potential bear adventures. The kid’s spirits were an example for all; to cherish the good and drown out the bad. It was a wonderful vacation and should be a must for everyone.