Yosemite Valley

Shannon Douglas Photography Seattle food, travel, lifestyle photographer shooting cookbooks, editorial, commercial, restaurant, advertising

My husband and I call it, the coolest place on Earth. That's a pretty big title considering our severe loyalty to the rugged beauty of the Pacific Northwest, but if you're a rock climber, it's above and beyond the number one spot on planet earth to climb. 

Looking up at El Cap (El Capitan, re-named in Spanish by the California Militia after the native name "The Chief"), while laying under a tree on a wet day. 

Looking up at El Cap (El Capitan, re-named in Spanish by the California Militia after the native name "The Chief"), while laying under a tree on a wet day. 

We took our first trip to Yosemite a few years back on our Honeymoon and vowed then and there to make a yearly pilgrimage. Though we didn't wind up making it the following year, it felt so right to be back this November. 

The view on a sunshine day from one of our favorite routes- The Grack. 

The view on a sunshine day from one of our favorite routes- The Grack. 

It's hard to explain the feeling of crawling up a paper-thin crack on thousands of feet of granite, towering high above the ground below, looking into the mighty walls of the valley. It's a feeling that can only be known through experience and you either love it or you feel scared for your dear life. I absolutely live for it.  

Looking at half dome from a sweet route we climbed called "Commitment."

Looking at half dome from a sweet route we climbed called "Commitment."

I don't know I could ever call one place the most beautiful place on earth but I can say when I feel the cool breeze rush through the valley, brush over the river and sweep across my skin on a 73 degree day in a grove of giant Sequoias while I gaze at the steely granite monuments I feel in complete paradise. 

Sequioas. 

Sequioas. 

We had a phenomenal time climbing. The rock was stellar, the routes were interesting and the company was excellent. 

Jake rapping (rapelling), down a multi-pitch with more mind-blowing views. 

Jake rapping (rapelling), down a multi-pitch with more mind-blowing views. 

My babe hanging out on the wall at one of the pitches with Yosemite falls in the background. 

My babe hanging out on the wall at one of the pitches with Yosemite falls in the background. 

Descending a fun route on the Nose of El Cap at sunset. 

Descending a fun route on the Nose of El Cap at sunset. 

Camping in Yosemite is incredibly popular and packed to the brim in summer and early fall. It's too hot to climb in the heat of summer and we're much more partial to cold weather than warm so we like to head down come late fall. With almost all of the food spots and tourist activities shut down for the season, the park is left with only it's workers, fellow climbers, and a few vacationers who don't mind the chill. Camping is much more relaxed and the park feels empty- just how we like it. 

Fire and s'mores back at camp. 

Fire and s'mores back at camp. 

Yosemite is beautiful and the fall days reach comfortable warmth during sunshine hours but with the transition into the new season does come rain- and a much needed California rain at that. When you're camping for 10 days though, it becomes a bit of a nuisance when your tent floods and nothing you own is dry or warm. 

This is not glamping or even camping in the typical sense of the word- this is eating out of a can of soup lunch after lunch and dinner after dinner, showering at the public shower in another part of the park every 5 days and trying to find something to do on the days too rainy to climb. 

So we drove. We drove to see the Sequioas. To see the scarred landscapes from the fires. To see the hidden tiny communities tucked deep in the woods. To Twoulame. 

Lake Tenaya Twoulame

Lake Tenaya Twoulame

Twoulame, like Yosemite Valley, is a totally unique place. Meandering rivers carve through yellow grass similar to those in Yellowstone, before you reach the smooth spherical mountains of rock rising out of the ground everywhere you look. Twoulame is another popular climbing area in Yosemite. Sitting well above the valley below, snow was beginning to sprinkle as we drove through. Pictured above we passed the famous icy blue Tenaya lake. 

Tunnel view at sunset with Bridalveil Falls flowing on the left. 

Tunnel view at sunset with Bridalveil Falls flowing on the left. 

Tunnel view is the epitome of the Yosemite Valley and the view shown in movies, posters, etc. Driving through just as the sun set my husband swung a left and pulled us up to look at this possessing view. With half dome peaking out in the distance, El Capitan on the left and Bridalveil Falls falling on the right. It pretty much sums up the graniosity of it all. 

As my husband said- "Two and a half-domes."

As my husband said- "Two and a half-domes."

Another year, another mind-blowing trip. 255 days until we come back!