I can say quite confidently that I never imagined I would spend a Christmas morning waking up to the sunrise poking through the curtains of the van I was living in with two of my best friends parked 5 minutes outside of Yosemite National Park. One thing I’ve come to learn in 2016 though is that some of the most unexpected things can turn out to be the best things, and this Christmas was no exception! Even with temperatures less than 20 degrees, we were actually plenty warm in the van throughout the night as we were able to run a portable electric heater in the van from our campground hookups. We also all slept in the same clothes we had worn the previous day since they were the warmest we brought, so once we woke up and ate our breakfast of peanut butter oatmeal and instant coffee we were ready!
Our first stop inside the park once we got our snow chains on (by now Myles was a pro at it and got them one in no time!) was tunnel view once again! The views today were absolutely breathtaking and the skies were much clearer than yesterday since it wasn’t snowing this time. I’m so happy we stopped here again because I truly have never seen such beautiful views in my entire life. We took some pictures but our hands and feet started to hurt from being so cold after only a few minutes outside of the van in the 20 degree temperatures, so we warmed up and added some extra layers in the van before heading to bridalveil falls. The hike to the base of bridalveil falls was more of a short walk and I would definitely recommend checking it out since it’s so close to tunnel view and so easy to get to. We gazed at the waterfall for a bit and stood in awe of how big it was and how we were so close that you could feel the spray coming off of it before hopping back in the van to head to half dome village.As we pulled into half dome village we saw santa and some elves drive by us and almost instantly after parking Sarah spotted one of his reindeer! Okay, it was actually just a normal deer but come on, seeing a deer right after santa drives by on Christmas Day?! Coincidence? I think not. Anyways, we slowly walked up to our new deer friend and we’re actually able to get SO close to it without it moving a bit. We admired our new friend for a few minutes and then headed over to the gift shop where we picked up some food and Sarah and I got our first pair of matching shirts of the trip.Next we drove to the trailhead parking lot and ate chicken sandwhiches out of the back of the van to prep for our next hike. We decided to do the vernal falls hike which was a little scary at times as it was fairly steep and had a lot of slippery ice patches here and there. The views of the mountains and raging river on this hike were SO worth it though, I highly recommend doing at least part of this hike if you’re ever in Yosemite. The hike ended at a little foot bridge and after soaking the magical-ness that is a Yosemite Christmas for a little longer and face timing some of our friends to show them the views, we headed back to the van for our drive from the snow to the sea as our next stop was to Carmel!Yosemite ended up being my favorite stop of our entire trip and I can’t say enough how beautiful it was covered in snow. I would love to come back over the summer but definitely suggest coming here in the snowy off season, it doesn’t disappoint. Below are each of our overall favorite moments in Yosemite!
Myles: Driving into the park for the first time and seeing all of the snow and fog everywhere.
Sarah: The Vernal Falls hike.
H: The views of the huge granite mountains and trees dusted with snow.