In late October, we took our annual camping trip and returned to... Yosemite! Mr. River and I haven't been there since 2008, when Mr. River proposed to me up in Tuolomne Meadows. The girls had never been. We were a bit nervous about how it would be camping in late October... we had fears of crazy snowstorms and freezing rains. Back in 2008, we camped in Tuolomne in September and froze our tushes off haha. It caused a major overhaul of our sleeping gear. We learned our lesson :)
This time around, Tuolomne wasn't an option because it closes at the end of September. Plus, with the girls, we wanted to be closer to the amenities of the Village. So we camped at Upper Pines, spot 202. We had heard stories about how packed the campgrounds are in the Valley, and I'm sure that is true in the summer. But middle of the week in late October - the campgrounds were pretty quiet and sparse :) And our site was amazing. It was much larger space than the ones around it, the back of the space was a wide foresty area, and it was an easy walk to two different bathrooms. It was perfect!!
Because I spend a ridiculous amount of time looking up campsites to try and pick the best ones - here's for anybody hoping to see what site 202 looks like :)
There were two obvious tent locations, we chose one that put our tent further away from the road and other campsites. Looking at our tent on the walk back from the bathroom (wide open space behind the campsites here, so nobody's trekking through your site to get to/from the bathroom)
And Baby Bear and Blue LOVED playing behind the tent:
We stayed for 5 nights, and it was not enough time. We were all so sad to leave. I really wish we'd stayed for at least two more nights :( But we had an amazing time while there. We did the Mist Trail - all the way to the top. Yep, Blue hiked the full 3 miles and climbed a ridiculous amount of steps. And she loved every minute of it and later told us the stairs were her favorite part of all Yosemite.
We also just walked around the Valley. Did I mention it was fall and gorgeous?? It was in the low 60s during the day, just beautiful :) And all of the trails were pretty much empty. I told Mr. River that I think we should do all future visits in late October - it was just so breathtaking.
One thing that has been really fun about our annual camping trips is seeing how much the experience changes each year. Baby Bear was really into exploring the trails and seeing just the simple sites of trails. It is such a fun age - even a simple leaf is magical.
Blue was really into the junior ranger and discovery talks, so we spent more time at the museums and with the rangers than we normally have - and it was really neat!
One thing we learned from this camping trip that made life much easier - I precooked all of our dinners and froze them (laying flat) in gallon ziplock bags, and then I stacked those in the cooler. Dinner was a complete breeze each night - start the stove, open up a ziplock bag, and warm it up. Beef stew, chicken tacos, vegetable soup, meatballs - Yum! We also cooked noodles ahead of time so we just had to add sauce for a spaghetti night. It has made camping with the kids so much easier. Dinner is done fast, cleanup is easy, and very little propane is used on the stove. Easy peasy!
Also, on our camping trips, I always let the girls pick out a book from the campsite store as their souvenir. Baby Bear picked out their Yosemite souvenir for this trip - Bear Snores On. It is a really adorable book :) You should all get it immediately :)