Hiking, Falls, and Big Trees Lodge

The Big Trip Out West

Though I haven’t even been home for more than a month, I’ve been pretty busy. Almost immediately after coming home, my family and Julia set out on a great adventure west. We wanted to see some of our nation’s most beautiful parks during the Centennial of the National Parks Service. Our goal was to visit the Badlands, the Corn Palace, Custer’s State Park, Mt. Rushmore, Devil’s Tower, Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, Craters of the Moon, Crater Lake, Redwoods State Park, Yosemite, King’s Canyon, Sequoias, Moab, Canyonlands, Arches, the world’s best cinnamon roll at Glen Haven, and Trail Ridge Road. But even the perfect plan can have its bumps and amazing surprises. Come along on the journey, as I’ll be posting each day (and roughly each park) throughout the next few months.

A Morning Hike to Mirror Lake

This morning, we woke in the Majestic Yosemite Hotel. On our first night in Yosemite and after many long days of driving, Mom decided to find us a room in the poshest place in Yosemite.

Majestic Yosemite Lodge

This morning, we walked out onto the mezzanine, where they had the fanciest coffee and tea! Outside, we found five doe, a buck, and a faun in the backyard.

Majestic Yosemite Lodge

Since Zach had to work all morning, Mom, Dad, Julia, and I decided to go on a hike to Mirror Lake from the Majestic. It’s a fairly sandy and rocky trail that winds up between boulders.

Mirror Lake, Yosemite

After the rains the past few days, the waterlogged stumps and rocks began to let off steam in the dappling sunlight. But the dry spell had left Mirror Lake relatively empty, and it no longer reflected its surroundings. In the distance, you could see Half Dome, rising out of the canyon walls.

Half Dome, Yosemite

We picked up Zach from the hotel around 3 pm and headed to the Post Office. Julia had promised to send her mom a postcard and mailed off a Redwoods postcard from Yosemite.

Post Office, Yosemite

For a late lunch, we headed to the food court again, where we all got cheesy potato soup and corn bread muffins. Nothing beats a good bowl of cheesy potato soup! (I sound like an advertisement…)

Seeing Some Falls in the Afternoon

Lower Yosemite Falls

Following lunch, we hiked to Lower Yosemite Falls. It’s a pretty short hike, although the spray can sometimes make the mild grade, paved path slippery, so be careful. It was absolutely gushing! We took a few photos and headed back to the van, where Julia was taking a quick nap.

Lower Yosemite Falls

Our next stop was Bridalveil Falls. The big one this time. In the evening sun, this one was absolutely breathtaking. The sunlight caught the spray just right and made not just one but two rainbows.

Bridalveil Falls, Yosemite

If the Bridalveil Falls in South Dakota was a shortbread cookie, this falls here a six layer cake. With roses. And candles.

Staying at Big Trees Lodge

That night, we stayed at Big Trees Lodge. It’s a beautiful old hotel with a double porch and French doors like our New Orleans hotel. There was even an old claw foot tub in the bathroom! Since it’s an older facility, many of the rooms had to share a bathroom outside, but we were fortunate to have access to our own private bath. If it wasn’t so cold, I’m sure we would have sat down outside on one of the rocking chairs.

Big Tree Lodge, Yosemite

Since the only place to eat here was the hotel, we had a very long wait. Lo and behold, there were puzzles in the lobby. We started up a snow scene (Julia’s idea) during the wait and then worked on it after dinner as well. It wasn’t until 11 pm that I broke away from the group to go to bed, and Dad, Zach, and Julia continued to work on it until it was finished.

Yosemite National Park

The room was a bit cold that night, mostly because there was a large warp in our door. After using the cooler to shimmy it closed, we bundled up and went to sleep.


Be kind to one another,


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