I asked Steve to take me to Yosemite for my birthday in March, but with our basketball and baseball schedules it just wasn't going to be realistic.
Steve did make sure we had time for the Stevenson Creek Million Dollar Mile Hike my birthday weekend. While it wasn't the infamous, "Yosemite"....it was breathtaking and amazing that it was mere minutes from our home.
One day, Steve asked if I wanted to try and go to Yosemite on a rare Sunday that we didn't have 1,000 things already planned. I was so happy that he remembered, and picked a time we could realistically go there, enjoy our day, and come back on a non-rainy day.
Because I am a planner, I wanted to plan our day to maximize our time in the park. I had grandiose plans of multiple hikes, picnics along the Merced River, playing catch, the kids giggling over the last hand played in Uno, some quiet moments to sit, breathe, and read a book.
Let's get serious.
Let's get REALISTIC.
The drive into the park was just as I expected.
Cameras and people galore reveling in the sights of gushing waterfalls, sun-kissed rocks, vibrant green with polka-dotted clouds. I wanted one of those pictures too.
We parked and had the camera at the ready.
I had to grab my kid's arm as he nearly walked right into traffic from the parking lot
and do those "mommy eyebrows" and voice thing that we do when our kids scare the
pants off of us.
I should have told myself then and there...
Joni, this is going to be dang pretty today, and your kids are still going to be real.
Pretty doesn't just "rub off" and make everything else perfect.
There is going to be beauty, more beauty, and then moments where the beauty will be
in the survival of the day.
I was only going to take the top shot here, but then I saw this cool sign and wanted another one with the kids. Apparently they really didn't want to take another picture together and were advocating their positions for individual pics. So, we all had to take a pic.
- Just for truth's sake here... sometimes really athletic kids who may or may not be going through a growth spurt hate going on hikes because their legs hurt really bad and they temporarily hate their mother's who force them to take this stupid stinkin' hike today. There might have been some really big tears and some major, major pouty faces. However, perseverance was the key here. Beauty in the survival, remember? THIS is REALITY.
We had to stop periodically to take pictures and rest. Elevation gain is a real thing people. Oxygen, breathing, whew.
We finally made it to the foot bridge of Vernal Falls.
One child was willing to celebrate the success of the hike.
The other was really mad.
Pouty lips, furrowed eyebrows.
I had to include this picture.
Steve is laying it down because I probably said, "Steven. I just can't even deal with that attitude right now. I just wanted a hike. He's stealing my 'hike' moment." So Steve laid it down people. Allllll the way.
I might also need to take note that food is the antidote for growing cranky boys. I mean kids. Any kid. Adults too. So once we reached the foot bridge of Vernal Falls, we snacked.
Food. Beauty. Good things. Changed eyebrows. Softened hearts. Happy bellies.
I was really content to stay at the foot bridge of the falls but when we realized how close we were to getting to see the falls even closer, we jumped at the opportunity given that we had just eaten our magical mood-changing trail mix. We took advantage and found more beauty in the recovery of our joy.
As you are nearing the upper portion of Vernal Falls, the trail turns into rock steps that are saturated in mist water....so, puddles....yeah.
Since you are having serious elevation gain again you really aren't "looking up" to see where you are going because it's literally one step in front of the other.
Then there are all these people.
Lots of people.
We weren't even in a peak season here.
The hiking trail is not very wide.
There isn't a hand-rail or guard rail.
The self-preservationist that you are starts to freak.
Your babies are walking steps ahead of you on these slippery rocks with no hand rails.
Did I mention lots of people?
Remember all those other posts about me and heights and the freaking out sessions that ensue?
Cue the freak out session.
No, for reals, "LET'S GO."
While my face might look super pleased, excited, all those happy words....if you look closely you can see I'm kinda holding my breath and a rash is starting on my neck. Pictures are deceiving folks. This is a full blown get-me-off-of-this-freaking-rock-trail moment. Many of my friends have hiked this and are going to be like, "Sheesh Joni, get a grip. Don't scare people off with your freak-out session." And I'll be like, "Super cool for you. We're different. The end."
And then we walked DOWN the WET ROCK STEPS FULL OF PEOPLE.
And I pooped my pants.
Come on, I didn't really poop my pants.
I wouldn't tell you if I did.
Or would I?
This is my favorite picture from the whole day. Without prompting and without me knowing he was going to snap it, Steve captured this moment of my life perfectly. With shaky legs I finally reached the end of the rock step trail. My entire backside was wet from squishing myself up against a rock because I wouldn't move from the inside of the trail as we headed down. Here, I am declaring to Steve, "I DON'T EVER HAVE TO DO THAT AGAIN. I'M GOOD." I also later implored that my kids were never allowed to do that again because their scaredy-pants mother is a ninny and doesn't need the grey hair. Also, the guy behind me did slip. He was wigged to the max too.
Reaching the end was triumphant.
Beauty in the survival.
Reality that I operate under a very strict self preservation mode.
We finally got our real smiles back.
At this point we realized the park was much busier than it had been when we started our hike.
Many, many people out and about.
That it a great thing for the park, and a great thing for people enjoying the outdoors.
The problem with all the people is that with all the road construction going on and redoing of parking lots, doing anything after this hike was pretty much out for us because we couldn't find a parking spot ANYWHERE.
So we ate. The kids bickered. I put myself in a time out.
I let go of seeing Lower Yosemite Falls for the sake of surviving the rest of the trip.
We left Yosemite before 2pm.
At first I felt like a failure.
We didn't get to do EVERYTHING I had set my heart on.
Finally it hit me.
I made a choice to drop my "want"...that wasn't about a list.
It wasn't about the success of checking it off.
It wasn't about the proof in a picture that we were there and we did that.
We left because it was time.
We had experienced the beauty of the survival of the day.
So while I napped for part of the drive home, and Steve stopped for some caffeine we decided to stop at Big 5 in Oakhurst on the way home because our babies needed some new shoes. Macy is not allowed to hike in white Converse anymore, and apparently she has grown.
Totally not a planned part of our day.
Not on the list.
While we waited for Steve to finish up with the purchases, the kids and I got in a round of Uno.