Hitchhiking through Yosemite
By: Caitlin Casassa
Waking up to see the sun’s rays shining through the fir trees to create shadows on the granite walls made the long journey via public transportation to Yosemite Valley worth it. My two friends and I stayed in Curry Village for a few days to explore what I subjectively think has to be the most beautiful national park in the U.S., Yosemite. Curry Village (now known as Half Dome Village) is located in the heart of the valley with numerous lodging options to choose from – we stayed in a tent cabin!
Since we visited in September, a lot of the waterfalls were dried up. However, we managed to find some hikes with awesome views and rainbows reflected in trickling waterfalls. Our first day started at the information booth in Curry Village to meet the man who was essentially our spirit adventure guide – Larry. If you ever find yourself the information booth looking to find the most helpful person in Yosemite, look for Larry! Despite getting a late start to the day for what we wanted to accomplish (a 13 mile hike on the outskirts of the valley, we took Larry’s advice and headed to the Four Mile Trail. We started at the bottom and literally hiked our way to the top of Glacier Point. Each turn in this trail offered an even better view of the valley floor than the last turn. At the top of Glacier Point, we scrambled over some rocks to have a picnic location offering a view of Half Dome. After lunch, we headed towards the three mile Mist Trail and Vernal Fall trails. While the Four Mile Hike offered views of the valley, the Mist Trail and Vernal Fall trails offered views on the backside of the mountains. These trails led us into the Nevada Fall trail, a 7 mile trail that includes descending a large granite staircase. Although my legs were shaking as I descended the stairs, the 13 miles was well worth the trek since it gave us the ability to see both sides of Yosemite Valley.
The following day was fueled by our desire to see Tunnel View. Without a car, we had to get creative since Tunnel View was located at a part of the park that is not easily accessible. We took the shuttle bus to the farthest point it would drop us off and found a trail that led toward the Western outskirt of the park. Climbing over and under some trees we finally made it to the classic screensaver view known as tunnel view. The only trick was getting back into the valley. Lucky for us, we caught a ride with a college student from California and cruised our down into the valley smooshed between his surfboards. Our trip ended with following more advice from Larry: at night we headed on to one of the valley trails to stargaze and managed to see about 7 shooting stars in 15 minutes. Our time in Yosemite came to a perfect close as we watched the twinkling of the headlamps from the climbers on El Capitan.