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Originally, my bucket list attempt was to take my parents skydiving. An idea they did not like but agreed to because it was an amazing thrill we could experience together.  Sadly, our scheduled flight was canceled due to weather and with troubles finding another 3-person plane, my idea quickly came to an end – Lucky for them.

Lucky for me, however, another adventure awaited…

I was recently among the 4 million expected travelers this year to visit one of the most visually memorable places in the United States – Yosemite National Park. I went for a friend’s wedding and it definitely satisfied a travel itch, which is always on one’s bucket list.

Yosemite means “Killer” to the Miwok tribe, the inhabitants of the area long ago – not quite sure why. But after a long weekend of hearing stories and asking questions, I found out that “Killer” has some appropriate meaning in recent years.

Many people attempt climbing these large rock walls every day. Standing below and looking up at the walls is enough to make this idea seem ridiculous.  Hiking to the top and looking over the edge, further establishes that ridiculousness.  While we were there, we saw many climbers and tight-ropers, high above the ground.  Both climbing and tight roping has brought some to their death in years past, and so has a more “generational” activity.  Just a week before I was in Yosemite, a girl fell off Half Dome (one of the cliffs in the park) after she was attempting to take a selfie. One step too far backward without paying attention, just for the perfect shot.  This is just one of the crazy stories we heard from locals while we were there, and just one of the warnings we were given before going hiking because it can be a very dangerous place if not explored correctly.

Side Note: I recommend watching a documentary called Free Solo. It tells the story of the first recorded person to climb El Capitan without any ropes. El Capitan is a 3,000 ft granite wall in the park. I watched this film on the plane, and it is quite the watch.

All that to say about the “Killer” park, it was one of the most jaw-dropping places I’ve visited.  We went on a few hikes through the woods, saw beautiful waterfalls, drove hours through winding roads surrounded by wildfire remains, and viewed the Yosemite Valley from bottom to top, literally.  Being in the middle of it all put me in a sort of meditative place, realizing how small we all really are. It felt refreshing to simply stand and look at this place the world had created.  If I had never gone, I wouldn’t even know what I was missing out on.

I highly recommend everyone take a long weekend and visit Yosemite. You will not regret it.

Below are a few pictures I was able to (safely) take home with me.

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Sunset while driving down from Yosemite Valley. The drive from our Airbnb to the Valley was about 1.5 hours.

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 Hiking to Taft Point. Typically, the paths were clearly marked, but you had to look down in order to not trip on large rocks. The trees were so big!

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Once we got to Taft Point, the views were amazing. This guy felt the need to walk across this line with a kite tied to his waist. He’s only a few THOUSAND feet above the ground.  There were three carabiners holding him if he were to fall, which he did.  We watched him for quite a while and it was clear he did this often.

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This is a cool panorama I took before we got to the tip of Taft Point.

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On the drive up and down the mountain, there were many trees with black trunks.  Some due to wildfires and some due to control fires that they initiate on purpose to control the spread of a future wildfire.  Greenery had started to grow on the ground, but we didn’t know exactly when the fires may have been.

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This is the famous view of Yosemite Valley – the Tunnel View. It is called the tunnel view because right before this you must go through a long tunnel, where a road was put smack dab in the middle of a mountain.

El Capitan, the granite rock climbed in the documentary I mentioned, is the large white rock on the left.

The wedding ceremony we went to was on top of the rock on the right and I sang up there! Spiritual, let me tell ya.

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 A waterfall we came across on our hike after seeing the Valley.  We climbed up to just under the water. This looks like Jurassic Park to me. 

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 This is on our hike to Glacier Point.  This was just part of our group – we were hiking in a pack of 50!  Safety in numbers when there are bears around.  But for real…we saw a bear from the car driving here.

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 This was the view from the wedding ceremony – Breathtaking. From where I was taking the picture, we were sitting in an amphitheater made of stone.

 Hope you enjoyed!