Weekend warriors: Epic adventures
If you’re like me, you probably spend 40+ hours a week at work dreaming about an escape to somewhere epic and beautiful. To add insult to injury, you can easily jump online at any time and live vicariously through people who spend their life knocking off places on your bucket list, while getting paid to do so (goals).
But, just because you’re not a full-time paid adventurer or photographer, doesn’t mean you have to miss out. Even with a full-time job (and some adult responsibilities), I’ve managed to master the art of being a weekend warrior.
In this article, I’ll be sharing a recent 72 hour trip through California and up to coastal Oregon. All it requires is a lot of coffee. By the end of this post you won’t just consider us crazy, but will also be inspired to get in the car and go!
Stop 1: Yosemite National Park
No impromptu road trip to California is complete without a visit to Yosemite National Park, period. Now, there’s no way for me to cram all of the reasons you have to visit Yosemite into one article (at least not this one), so we’ll stick to the cliff notes version.
Our first stop was Tunnel View.
The poster child of Yosemite, Tunnel View is more than likely the first thing you’ll hear/read about when researching the park. This is easily the most photographed place in the park (for a reason) and its popularity is entirely justified. From this viewpoint, you’ll be able to hop out of the car and catch a glimpse of Yosemite’s most famed attractions: El Capitan, Half Dome, and Bridalveil Fall. If you’re lucky (or do a lot of preplanning) and arrive in the middle of the night like we did, this is a great place to catch the Milky way sprawled across the valley. Though we didn’t catch the Milky way, we enjoyed a beautifully clear star-filled night.
The poster child of Yosemite, Tunnel View
is more than likely the first thing you’ll hear/read about when researching the park. This is easily the most photographed place in the park (for a reason)
Our next stop was Vernal Fall via the Mist Trail.
This is Yosemite’s most popular hike, I recommend you brave this hike as early as you can…
Do NOT hit snooze, you’ll thank me later!
Hiking at sunrise allowed us to experience Yosemite’s famed Vernal Fall, alone. In fact, it didn’t appear that anyone in Yosemite woke up until after 9 a.m. when we were ready for our 5th round of coffee. Aside from letting out the occasional “hey bear,” we hiked to the sounds of a rushing Merced River and songbirds. The hike to Vernal is only 3 miles round trip and is a moderate to strenuous hike. You can also continue beyond Vernal to Nevada fall, which adds about 4 miles.
Regardless of how far in your hike, you’ll experience some of Yosemite’s most tranquil vistas.
At the footbridge, you’ll see the boisterous Merced River and catch your first glimpse of Vernal. I personally wanted to climb out onto a rock overlooking the river, but don’t be like me, this hike claims the most victims in all of Yosemite every year. If you choose to continue from the footbridge, you’ll steadily climb until you reach the iconic stone stairs that hug the side of the mountain.
Unfortunately, for us, this is where we ended our initial hike. The early morning mist turned the granite stairs into a solid sheet of ice and turned my boots into ice-skates. After nearly ending up at the bottom of the Merced River, we opted to backtrack slightly and travel off the trail and find a different vantage point. We didn’t reach our destination, but in Yosemite wherever you end up, you’ll be blessed with a beautiful view.
Stop 2: Point Reyes
Point Reyes is certainly gaining popularity and rightfully so. it’s iconic Cypress Tree Tunnel and the San Agustin Shipwreck are just two of the area’s popular charms. However, what was even more memorable for us, was the stunning drive around the park and surrounding area. An unexpected mix of sprawling ranches and forested peaks, coupled with magnificent ocean views. If I had to describe Point Reyes with one word, it would be…tranquility. This popular spot on the California Coast feels a lot like the Pacific Northwest. The entire area was blanketed by fog and had a dreary/dreamy feel to it.
We dropped by the Cypress Tree Tunnel at sunrise and captured the light beams as they forced their way through the trees. Aside from a few distant cows, we had this area to ourselves (wake up early!). The pictures hardly capture the ambiance in this area, it’s truly something you have to experience yourself.
An unexpected mix of sprawling ranches
and forested peaks, coupled with magnificent
ocean views. If I had to describe Point Reyes with one word,
it would be…tranquility.
Stop 3: Redwood National & State Parks
It was difficult to leave the foggy, gloomy tranquility of Point Reyes, but once we entered the Redwoods, we were quickly reminded that the California Coastal Redwoods provide an equal amount of mood and serenity. If you’re looking for a dose of humility, this is where you’ll find it. Redwood National Park is unique because it isn’t marked by a park entrance. You just sort of drive into them (trust me, can’t miss them). We spent most of our time in the Southern portion of the park and spent a great deal of time traveling up the Avenue of The Giants. This road is about 31 miles and is packed full of redwood groves. There are too many hiking trails to name here, so I’ll keep it simple: just get out of the car and hike. I can’t imagine you’ll be disappointed, regardless of where you decide to stop.
We drove a few miles, parked, hiked for an hour, got back in the car, drove a few miles, parked and got out again (repeat, repeat, repeat). It’s almost impossible not to stop, stare, walk and get lost in the towering coastal giants. If you visit Fern Canyon early in the year, be prepared to drive on a dirt road that (depending on the amount of rain) will be covered in rough terrain, potholes and small bodies of water. My little Mazda couldn’t make the last two miles, but with a truck or SUV, you’d be fine.
Coastal Redwoods provide an equal amount of mood and serenity. If you’re looking for a dose of humility, this is where you’ll find it.
The Oregon Coast has been on my bucket list for years, so on a whim, I threw the coordinates into maps and discovered that it was only an hour away – what?! So, without a second thought, we made a quick trip up to the Oregon Coast to catch the sunset. We stopped at a few turnouts and hiked in, looking the perfect spot. We explored parts of the Natural Bridges and Arch Rock but opted to hike down a small unmarked parking lot between Spruce Island and Thunder Cove (just before a guardrail). A steep drop into what felt like a tropical paradise. We ended up at a secluded area overlooking forested sea stacks and a “secret beach.” Not knowing much about the area, I was intrigued by the thought of hiking the Oregon Coast Trail, which spans the entire Oregon Coast.
We had a very limited amount of time and got lost, A LOT, much like Yosemite, the spontaneous changes and decisions we made along the coast gifted us our most memorable experiences.
What your favorite weekend trip?
Thank you for reading! Please comment below and let us know what you thought and where your favorite places to adventure on the weekend are!
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