Day 1: Yosemite
I’m finally getting around to documenting my California trip last month! This was my first time in California and only my second time out west. Forever an east coast gal <3. My friend Matt and I began our journey when we landed in Las Vegas at the end of March. Our first big adventure was road tripping to Yosemite National Park from Las Vegas the day after Easter. Guys, this day was no joke. First of all, it’s a seven hour drive from LV to Yosemite and then another hour once you’re inside the park. We got up at 4 a.m. that morning to drive so that we could finish our hike before dark. But it was all worth it as soon as we saw this view.
We got up to 4500 feet before we parked to hike the Valley Loop Trail. The full loop is about 11.5 miles, but by the time Matt found it (*cough*) we estimated our hike was around 13 miles for the day. It took us just about 5 hours and we got back to the car shortly before sunset. For the week or so before we left for Yosemite our weather apps showed 100% chance of snow, but when we were driving into the park there was nothing but blue skies and sunshine. This hope of a beautiful sunny hike was soon shattered with golf ball sized hail and black clouds. It cleared again, but when we parked it started snowing. Now, us Western New Yorkers aren’t bothered by the cold or the snow since we have it seven months out of the year, however, this was that really wet, heavy snow that no one wants to be outside in – let alone hiking.
So heavy in fact that I made a makeshift lens protector with a plastic bag – in no way do I claim the way I looked was stylish and or even remotely appealing that day. Just when I thought my hands were going to be cold and I was going to wet the entire day, it cleared up. I have to say taking pictures and enjoying the views were amazing no matter the weather, but nothing can beat the sun shining through the trees – especially with a little snow on the ground. Read more about Yosemite’s weather and seasons here.
The Valley Loop Trail is known for its wildlife and we were a little disappointed that we only saw a few deer on our hike. Our only mishaps of the day were due to me and my amazing climbing and athletic ability. A piece of advice? Always pack an extra pair of socks.
Day 2: Pacific Coast Highway
After tackling our 13 mile hike we gained some real ambition and decided to drive a good portion of Highway 1… in one day. The night before we stayed in Mariposa (about an hour outside of Yosemite) so technically our travels started there, but we didn’t hit Route 1 until we got to Monterey Bay and stopped for lunch. Which, by the way, was AMAZING. I got a seafood pasta and oh my good Lord was it tasty. Definitely recommend eating in Monterey Bay if you’re ever there!
It’s the first time I have ever seen the Pacific ocean and I was pretty stoked. Like so stoked that I made Matt take a bunch of pictures of my first steps into the water and my subsequent dash out of the water because it’s still pretty cold in March, you guys.
Our next stop was sort of unknown. We knew we wanted to make it to a beach for sunset so we just started our route down the Pacific Coast Highway. I wish pictures properly captured the absolutely breathtaking views from this stretch of road, but they don’t. I tell everyone I talk to, since coming back from the trip, that if there’s one thing they need to do in their life it’s to drive the Pacific Coast Highway. Even though pictures don’t do it justice, I still took about 600 🙂
My favorite part of the drive was when we stopped just south of Big Sur at an elephant seal rookery. They come to this beach December through March – mate and molt and then head back into the ocean. The beach was FULL of seals and I could have stood there all day watching them. By the way, I totally thought they were all dead when I walked up to the railing, but trust me, they’re very much alive.
Our last stop for the day (except for our final destination: LA) was Pismo Beach for the sunset. We ended up getting there a little before the actual sunset so we had a chance to walk around the beach town and grab some snacks. I loved the boardwalk on this beach and the disappearing golden hour lighting was so gorgeous. Unfortunately the only props I had with me were my shoes and sunglasses…
This was one of the most visually amazing days of my life and I’m so lucky that I had the chance to ride down the California coast with one of my best friends. Check back in a few days for part 2 of my California adventure!