I hate surprises. When plans are made that involve me, I like to know what they are, who they’re with, when they’re happening, what to wear — all the details. When someone tries to surprise me, I generally guess it (and always get it right), or get so frustrated and angry that they end up telling me.
Luckily, my boyfriend is a much better sport. He’s been talking about wanting to organize a trip to Yosemite National Park for months, to no fruition. It’s not easy to rally a bunch of friends, plan and pay for a trip nearly 4 hours away.
That’s when it came to me: a surprise Birthday trip to Yosemite. And man, am I good at keeping a secret (and a straight face when he almost asked directly about going to Yosemite for his Birthday).
About three weeks ago, I told him that we were going away for the weekend. He needed to pack comfortable clothes, shoes he could walk in, a jacket, snacks and a swimsuit. Apparently, he had it in his head that we were going white water rafting. I’d told him that if he guessed the destination, we would no longer be going. He kept his mouth shut.
The Monday before our trip, we’re sitting at dinner when he brings up all the places he’d like to travel.
“Where is one place you’d absolutely love to go?” I asked.
“Right now? Yosemite,” He replied.
Inside, I was smiling. Outside, I said, “Really? What’s there to do in Yosemite other than hike?”
Poker face FTW.
After borrowing a co-worker’s car, I picked him up curbside Friday afternoon. Sitting on the seat were directions to the Bed & Breakfast we were staying at in Mariposa, and a list of things to do in Yosemite.
The look on his face when he realized where exactly we were going made the whole trip worth it.
Annnnndd the Girlfriend of the Year award goes to…. (drumroll) ….ME!
Three hours and a Taco Bell Baja Chalupa later, we arrived at Poppy Hill Bed & Breakfast. I’ve never stayed in a Bed & Breakfast before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I did my due diligence and researched many B&Bs in the area, and Poppy Hill was the most enticing. It looked just like the photos on the site. When we arrived, it was dark, but the house was aglow with white tree lights and dimmed walkway lights on the stairs leading up to the house. There was a note on the door letting me know to leave the door unlocked, that there was wine and cookies on the kitchen table, and to “sleep so well.”
This place was going to be perfect.
We unloaded the car, brought our stuff upstairs to our room (which was complete with a big, fluffy bed, an antique dresser and armoire, a bathroom with a huge shower, and a small seating area overlooking the deck and front garden.
Fighting sleep, we ventured down to the wine and cookies and enjoyed them on the deck, underneath the stars.
Once we went to bed, I did “sleep so well.”
We awoke to the sun and chirping birds and I couldn’t wait to get the day started. After devouring croissant French toast, bacon and fruit, we headed to the park. The boyfriend insisted on driving as I’d never been to Yosemite before and he wanted me to enjoy the view. And the view, I did enjoy.
It was spectacular.
We parked and exploring commenced.
Yosemite Valley Floor - We walked around the Valley Floor to determine which trails to hike first. We were swept away by the incredible views of the park, of Half Dome, of Bridalveil Falls (heck, all the falls), the untouched, green meadows.
Lower Yosemite Falls - Here, we ventured slightly off the path and right up to the fall itself. Soaked by mist, we snapped a few photos and trampled around in the mud and puddles.
Mirror Lake - Starving by they time we arrived, we found a secluded beach along the lake and ate our packed sandwiches. The lake is fantastic, but turns out to be more beautiful in pictures than in person.
Tuolumne Meadows/Giant Sequoia Grove – Tired from the day’s hike (over 6 hours!), we thought that the 1 mile trail down to the Sequoia Grove wouldn’t be too bad. It’s steep downhill all the way there, which meant steep uphill all the way back. The giant sequoias are incredible. HUGE! We ran into a few deer, the boyfriend got scared, and I only complained a little on the hike back.
Mist Trail – One of the most inexplicable experiences I’ve had. We hiked directly alongside Vernal Falls, up about 1,000 wet stairs, soaked by the mist, surrounded by rainbows. Unreal.
Mariposa Grove - Another grove of giant Sequoias, only more majestic. These trees are astonishing. Felt like a dream.
The drive home took a bit longer, but I did not want the weekend to end. It was perfect in every single way. The time spent in the quiet of nature, appreciating the beauty and the boyfriend, was irreplaceable. Yosemite is a little slice of Heaven here on Earth, and I can’t wait to return.
Check out the slideshow of photos from the trip below:
If you want to see the bigger versions (recommended, because they rock) click here.