We meet our guides at 9am in Fresno, California, and transfer to Yosemite National Park, where we enjoy a picnic lunch on the South Fork of the Merced River. Our first hike from Turtleback Dome to Tunnel View is an ideal introduction to a park where grandeur is the norm and awe is the expectation. We enjoy a picnic lunch with incredible views into the Valley as our guides provide insight and interpretation. In the afternoon we settle into our private lodgings and gather for a home-cooked dinner and orientation of the week ahead. Lunch and dinner included.
Hiking: Up to 3 miles at elevations of 5,000-5,700?. Elevation gain/loss up to 700'. Transfers: 2 hours.
This morning we circumnavigate the valley floor beneath the soaring granite walls of Tenaya Canyon. Beginning at the Ahwahnee Hotel, we hike to Mirror Lake on a trail sheltered by the cover of quiet woods. Mirror Lake offers a jaw-dropping view of Half Dome soaring 5,000? directly above us. Exploring in the spring months, we see that Mirror Lake has plenty of water and the reflections of the surrounding cliffs are excellent. Trips in the autumn provide beautiful colors that create captivating reflections along Tenaya Creek. Our hike takes us to the very end of Tenaya Canyon, below Clouds Rest, where we gaze up at the steep granite walls around us. Returning to our lodgings, we have dinner and perhaps sit out on the lodge?s deck for stargazing. All meals included.
Hiking: 7 miles at elevations of 4,000-4,300?. Elevation gain/loss: 300?.
We transfer to Happy Isles to tackle what is arguably Yosemite?s signature hike: the Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall Loop. We follow our guides up the park?s ?giant staircase? where we are rewarded with close-up views of these two falls and numerous geological features. Negotiating hundreds of granite stairs that take us through the misty rainbow created by the 317? Vernal Fall, we continue on to the top of 594? Nevada Fall. The vistas of two famous rock monuments, Liberty Cap and the back side of Half Dome, combined with the sweeping scenery of Yosemite Valley, are spectacular. Hiking back to the valley floor, we follow a short stretch of the fabled John Muir Trail and relish a final glimpse of Yosemite?s impressive granite formations. We return to our accommodations for dinner.
Hiking: Up to 7 miles at elevations at elevations of 4,000-6,000?. Elevation gain/loss: up to 2,000?.
Our goal is the top of Yosemite Falls, a one-of-a-kind hike with panoramic views of the Valley and the lower and upper falls. We hike one of the park?s oldest trails, built between 1873 and 1877, to the top of North America?s tallest waterfall. The falls cascade 2,425 feet to the valley floor and, if the sunlight and water droplets cooperate, we may see a single or even a rare double rainbow. En route to the top, we pause at Columbia Rock for a snack and to take in the rewarding views of the valley, Half Dome and Sentinel Rock. The trail is rocky and steep with numerous switchbacks, so we take our time. Reaching the top, we pause to appreciate the surrounding views while listening to the sounds of the massive waterfall. Returning to the Valley floor, we transfer back to our accommodations for another delicious dinner prepared by our guides. All meals included.
Hiking: 7.2 miles at elevations of 3,967-6,526?. Elevation gain/loss: 2,559?.
We load our luggage into the support vehicle, then drive to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia, the largest and most impressive grove of giant sequoias in the park. After our hike through the grove we say farewell to Yosemite National Park and return to Fresno. We plan to arrive by 4pm. Flights from Fresno can be scheduled after 6pm. Breakfast and lunch included.
Hiking: Up to 5 miles at elevations of 5,600-6,800'. Elevation gain/loss up to 1,200'. Transfers: 2.5 hours.