Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bryce Canyon

A tradition in Will's family has always been to spend the 4th of July in Alton, a little town in southern Utah where his grandparents live. This Independence Day, we made the trek down as usual. On Friday, we spent the day in Bryce Canyon with Will's family and his cousin, Sondie.

We went on a short, 3 mile hike to see Sunset Peak, Sunrise Peak and much of the rest of the park. 
Along the trail, someone had gotten a little carried away making cairns. Instead of being a trail guide, they became environmental art.

Here we are at Twin Bridges. 
After the hike, we had a picnic. Sondie was a little afraid of the ravens, but she managed to gulp her food down anyways. Then we did a little bit of drive-by tourism and stopped at every overlook. This was one of the more popular ones. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Yosemite National Park/Lake Tahoe

To round out our trip to California, we spent two days at Yosemite and a day at Lake Tahoe. Our first day, we spent in Yosemite Valley, riding our bikes around to see all the sites. The park is very visitor friendly and stunningly beautiful.

Bridal Veil Falls

El CapitanMirror Lake

Half DomeYosemite Falls across the meadow

There is even a historic pioneer chapel built by the early settlers in the valley. They hold services every Sunday, including an LDS sacrament meeting.
We camped overnight just outside the park off of a forest service road. The next day, we took on the ultimate stairmaster hike--Upper Yosemite Falls. I believe it gains just over 2,700 feet in about 3 miles, so basically, you are climbing a huge set of stairs. I'm no mathematician, but if each story in a building is ten feet, we climbed a 270 story building. The hike was intense, but the views were amazing.

Yosemite Valley looking towards the majestic Half Dome. I can't believe people actually climb the face of that!

Tiffani at the top on the overlook platform. She kept teasing me about my fear of heights, but when you look over the edge, you can see how you could get a case of vertigo.

We also noticed that there was a face in the rock at the top of the falls, or at least that's what we thought it looked like.
After we made it back down the trail, we went and checked out the more touristy lower falls. I suppose everybody goes there because you walk up a little paved path to see it. We learned however, that the intense hike to the top was worthy the effort, even though the lower falls were pretty too.

Yosemite Upper and Lower Falls

We then decided to drive across the entire park and up over the Sierra Nevadas to Nevada. We took a few additional pictures of the drive through the lesser-known part of the park.

Apparently the pass you drive through up through the mountains is one of the highest in the country, around 9,000 feet above sea level. They have to blast the snow off of it which dynamite to make it accessible for the summer times, sometimes blowing through drifts that are up to 30 feet thick!

We planned on driving straight through to Lake Tahoe and finding a campsite there, but we were so exhausted from the trip, the hike and the driving that we ended up getting a cheap motel room in the metropolis of Gardnerville, Nevada. After our fourth day of camping and traveling non-stop, the shower and the bed were heavenly. We also got to catch the U.S. world cup game with their victory over Algeria.

The next day we carried on the journey and circled Lake Tahoe. The water is so incredibly blue and clear. We also learned that Lake Tahoe is the second deepest lake in the U.S. at around 1,700 feet. So pretty though!

We were going to camp the night there, but Tiffani, being in the early pregnant stages, wasn't feeling well, so we decided to make the long trek home that same day. Let me just say, after that drive, I am tempted to unofficially proclaim I-80 as the ugliest, most boring interstate in the country. Nevada is a whole bunch of nothing. Anyway, we made it home safely late that night, glad to be home, but glad to have been able to see so much more of the world.