This post could be about a lot of things. I could go really deep and talk about how a city-lovin’ girl who never showed any interest in camping ended up taking a three day camping trip to Yosemite. Instead though, I just kind of want to reflect on the hours after the decision had been made and when I put my trust in Incredible Adventures to give me an incredible adventure.
I was really nervous. The day before my trip I woke up in Oxnard California. I had just finished an incredible weekend visiting one of my best friends and exploring her city. Now though, it was time to start the prep work. This of course included catching up on some shows, shaving my legs, and going through everything I brought to California. Instead of asking if these items would bring me joy Marie Kondo style, I was asking myself “will I need this in the woods.
Once I was packed (and caffeinated) I headed back to the airport and up to San Francisco. My friend picked me up and after we finished a dumpling feast I took a minute to frantically go through my bag to make sure there was nothing important being left behind. Said goodbye to my laptop, main luggage, and friend and checked into the most tech-filled hotel I could afford.
Sleeping was definitely a challenge as excitement started to build. I again unpacked everything and repacked it just to make sure I didn’t need to run to Target for anything. In the morning I got up and took a long shower before heading to meet my shuttle.
I was so nervous. As I waited in front of the hotel a crowd of people started to gather. Some people had way more luggage than I had, some had much less. Then it all made sense as other tour companies came and started picking up people starting different adventures. My van was the last to arrive and within minutes our bags were loaded and we were pulling away.
I sat next to a woman named, Qian. We talked a little bit and I learned she is originally in China, currently living in the DC area for graduate school. She was taking a few weeks to see as many of the National Parks as she could. We made small talk back and forth, but most of the ride was silent for the majority of the van. We were just waking up. Maybe I wasn’t the only one feeling nerves, but I think it was mostly just the time in the morning.
Once we made our first stop some went to Starbucks and others went to Jamba Juice. We were much more chatty after we were caffeinated and we went around the van and introduced ourselves. There were only nine of us, plus our guide Rourke. Two were coupled up traveling together, but the rest of us were solo. We were all in a similar age demographic and no one was from the same place. Between us we represented Scotland, Canada, Australia, China, Japan, Australia, and the Philippines… oh yeah and I was holding it down for the US. As we introduced ourselves and chatted a bit I knew that this trip was going to be incredible, just because of the people I was going to experience it with. (Spoiler alert- I wasn’t wrong)
We made another stop at a grocery store called Raleys. We got last minute essentials like water and extra bug spray, in addition to sandwiches for lunch. We all opted to save our sandwiches to enjoy in Yosemite. Our guide noticed that there was construction or accident traffic blocking our road into Yosemite so we stopped at a picnic area not far out of the gate.
Together we enjoyed our sandwiches and chatted with our guide about his favorite Yosemite stories and the adventures we were about to have together. A lot of our conversation involved talking about bears. It was quickly discovered that our desire to see a bear during our time in Yosemite united us all. We were also all united by wanting to see the bear from a very safe distance while we weren’t carrying any food- even toothpaste.
It took us about four and a half hours of driving total, before we made it to Mariposa Grove inside Yosemite. We watched the fog of San Francisco fade into the distance and drove through miles and miles of almost desert-like farmland and pastures. Then eventually we started to make our climb into the mountains and our straight flat road became all the twists and turns.
My excitement for this adventure only grew as I got to know the people I would be sharing the next few days with. I was relived to learn that very few of us had serious hiking and camping experience. I wasn’t the only one who had never really camped before. None of us totally knew what we were getting ourselves into, but we were all excited for it!