Brady and I have always wanted to visit California, so when my sister decided to get married in Napa Valley we thought what a perfect time to make a trip around that and visit some places we’ve been wanting to go!
We flew into San Francisco and spent a day there exploring around. We went to fisherman’s warf, the boardwalk, and visited the painted ladies and bakers beach to get a nice view of the Golden Gate Bridge. After spending a full day in San Fran, we headed to Yosemite National Park and stayed in at the Crane Flat campground. It’s a little bit of a drive from the campgrounds to Yosemite National Park as there’s not many campsites in the park.
We headed into the park and it was truly beautiful, the gray rock of the Sierra Nevada Mountains is breathtaking. The mountain walls are so tall and the valleys are so deep. The drive in winds above valleys with mountains all around and gets you that much more excited. Once in the park I felt similar to how I felt at Multnomah Falls in Oregon. It was so commercialized and touristy, it broke my heart. There are shuttles going to and from each trailhead, a restaurant, grocery store, and bathrooms on the trails. While all of this may be convenient, it ruined the beauty of the park for me. We saw the famous views of Glacier Point with Half Dome and Tunnel View and did some hikes to Yosemite falls and Vernal falls.
Vernal falls was for sure my favorite trail. The hike leading up to the waterfalls is a lush green rock staircase and the spray from the falls catches the light and creates giant rainbows and I am a sucker for rainbows. The falls are huge and so beautiful. We got up right next to them and go soaked from the powerful spray. The falls were extremely crowded, which was a downside but still so beautiful. The next day we hiked to mirror lake in the morning and there was far less tourists on that trail and at that time of day, which was a huge bonus. Our campground was beautiful although far away and we vastly underestimated how cold it would be up in the mountains as it dipped to twenty degrees and frost formed on our tent both nights.
After Yosemite, we had to pack up and head to Napa Valley for my sisters wedding. My parents got a gorgeous rental home with a pool tucked away in the valley with vineyards all around and we again went from rags to riches haha! We had their rehearsal dinner that night with the wedding the next day.My sisters wedding was at a stunning vineyard and luckily I got to be to the one to photograph it! The whole venue was so picturesque and their wedding photos turned out fabulously. We spent the day with family drinking wine and dancing. The next day it was already time to leave again, but luckily before we left we got in some much needed showers and washed some clothes.
The day following my sisters wedding we headed to Humboldt Redwoods State Park as the Redwoods National Park was so far away from Napa. The road in is known as the Avenue of Giants and it is one of the coolest roads I’ve ever been on. It winds through massive redwood trees on either side of the road really getting you pumped up for the park. We stayed in the Burlington campground which is by far one of the most picturesque campgrounds I’ve stayed in. There are massive Redwood trees surrounded the campground and each site is so beautiful with trailheads all around. We went on a little hike on a trail close by that evening. The next day we spent the entire day on a trail that led through massive tree after massive tree. The best part… we didn’t see any one else on the trail and had it all to ourselves. This was night and day from what we experienced in Yosemite. If I had a penny for every time we said “Look how big that tree is!”, until finally we accepted that all of them are crazy big and impressive. The seclusion and privacy of this area was much needed and appreciated. The next day we sadly had to head back to San Fran to board a plane to head home.
I got the pleasure of going to Yosemite for a second time when my best friend decided to get married there! She asked me to photograph the wedding and I couldn’t have been more honored! I was excited to see Yosemite again at a different time of year and season.
Annie and Erick got married at one of my favorite spots in the park, Glacier Point which has incredible views of Half Dome. I got to spend their wedding day running around Yosemite taking their pictures and going for a nice dinner afterwards. I stayed with them and their families at a cabin inside the park and we got to explore the park for a few days after the wedding.
This time around was a far better experience of Yosemite. There were so many less people as the heavy tourism had died down for the season so the park was a lot more remote. Last time I saw the park it was summer and this time I got to experience fall there. I went around to some of my favorite spots I had been to before and also found some new ones. I also got to shoot a maternity session in the park for a couple of good friends that were there for the wedding which was so fun!
After Yosemite, I picked my mom up in San Jose and we had a girls trip shopping and spent a whole day visiting the coast hitting up areas around Big Sur. We got to see Mcway Falls and visit Pfeiffer Beach which has PURPLE sand. It was all so gorgeous and sharing it with my mom made it so much more special. This trip meant everything to me.