Sunset and Sunrise at Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is a 3.5 hours drive from Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. I've been told that campsites here book up to a year in advance. I figured I would find out for myself and drove in without any reservations whatsoever. I found out that the campgrounds closer to the entrances generally have spots open and was able to get a site for my first night. While I had a place to sleep that night, it took me an hour to drive to Curry Village, the center of Yosemite and where all the restaurants and supermarkets are. The campsites in Curry Village are completely booked up and only a few cancellations and no-shows are released on a first come first serve basis. I figured I try my luck the next day and drove back to my campsite on highway 140 that evening, just in time to catch a spectacular sunset that painted the sky a mesmerizing orange.
The following day, I packed my tent and belongings and headed into Curry Village once more. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to make it in at 8am like everyone else so my name ended up being pretty far back on the waiting list. So at 3pm when the park ranger called out names from that waiting list to give out a limited number of camping spots based on cancellations and no-shows, I didn't make the cut. Luckily for me, another young fellow like myself got a spot, took pity on me and asked if I would like to share his spot with him since he was also camping solo. I took a quick glance, decided that he didn't look like the serial killer type, so I gladly accepted his kind offer.
He didn't turn out to be the crazy psychomaniac type but was the crazy adventurous type instead. We ended up having a blast together. He did a 4 mile hike up to Glacier Point that afternoon and I drove up instead because I had a 10lbs tripod and about another 10lbs worth of camera gear to carry. Although even if I was only carrying myself and nothing else, I doubted I would have made the hike given how out of shape I was at that time. I miscalculated the time it would take me to drive up to Glacier Point which was a little over an hour so by the time I had gotten up there, the sun had already set. Walking in from the parking lot, I was able to capture the yellowish glow of the sky over Half Dome.
Me and my new friend ended up staying until 11pm that night gazing at the thousands of stars that lit up the darken sky. I just regretted that I was still such a photography newbie at that time that I did not have the skills to capture an adequate photo of the starry sky to share with you today. Because out of the 8 National Parks I visited on this trip, Glacier Point was definitely the best spot for star gazing. It was so amazing that we both decided to wake up early the next day and come back in the morning to watch the sunrise.
So by the time we got back to our campsite it was around midnight. We got about 4 hours of sleep and drove back up to Glacier Point the next morning around 5am. Unlike the night before where there was a large crowd, this time there were only a father and his little daughter up at Glacier Point that early morning. As sleepy as I was at that time, it was definitely worth it because the sunrise over Half Dome was majestic.
We had also brought up some instant coffee, a small propane stove and pot to boil water. So while waiting for the sun to rise, we drank our hot coffee and it was the best coffee I ever had. After the coffee woke us up and I had gotten my sunrise shots, we had some fun photographing each other with my camera. Although this first pix, my friend took of me with his point and shoot camera when I wasn't looking. He definitely has a great eye for composition, not to mention he was also a crazy daredevil with his Karate Kid pose.
After a day hanging out together, it was like we've been best friends forever. So needless to say, I was pretty sad to say goodbye the following day. Although I wished him all the best as he left his comfortable life in the US shortly after that summer trip in August 2012 for a 2 year missionary trip with his church. He is now in a remote region of Suriname, a small country in South America.
Now that I am already in Curry Village, it was very easy for me to get to the office at 8am each morning to get my name down on top of the waiting list so as to be able to snag a cancelled/no-show spot the rangers give out at 3pm each day. The only drag was that everyday I had to pack up my tent and move to another spot. Although being in Curry Village definitely had it advantages of being close to all the scenic spots such as Bridalveil Falls. I also lucked out that when I got here, there was a double rainbow below the falls.
I was pretty happy at Curry Village so even though there were open campsites in Tuolumne Meadows, I decided to make a day trip instead of an overnight one.
On my drive back, made a couple stops at Tenaya Lake and a scenic stop point to catch the warm afterglow of the sunset.
So overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Yosemite and was definitely getting used to camping under the stars by then. So if you live somewhere in California, I highly recommend you do a weekend or week long camping trip here this summer. And if camping is not your thing, there are also lodges you can stay at. And if you do or did, I love to hear about it so leave me a comment to let me know how it went.
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Keywords: Bridalveil Falls, Curry Village, Glacier Point, Half Dome, Karate Kid, National Park, Tenaya Lake, Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite, camp, campground, camping, campsite, entrance, field, grass, meadow, mountain, sky, star, starry night, starry sky, sunrise, sunset, tree, water, waterfall
It was an amazing few days! Dont think it was accident we met there. Glad we did:)
Oh, to the readers. Hands down my current most beautiful spot on the planet! Go.
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