My dad, Steve Samsel, along the 4-Mile Trail, his favorite trail in Yosemite National Park.
Each day of our week-long Yosemite trip was perfectly planned my dad, who had been to Yosemite many times and had selected some of his favorite trails and planned some new territory for us to explore. I'd been the park on two previous occasions, but only for a day or so at a time and with the whole family. On this occasion it was just Dad and me, planned by him as a college graduation present to me, and we had time to really take on some trails.
Yosemite National Park, with it's massive waterfalls, cliffs, sequoia trees and granite structures, captured my dad the first time he entered the valley. Many of western parks are spectacular, but none compare to Yosemite his mind, so whenever someone from his group at work needed to travel to California, he always volunteered for duty and took a few vacation days so he could hike in the valley or the high country or roam through the sequoia grove.
We did mostly easy day hikes and hit the obvious highlights on family trips, which took us from park to park. Dad and I had time for bigger adventures, which included a day spent mostly on muleback to climb the back slope of Half Dome; a hike down the 4-Mile Trail (Dad's favorite), which starts at Glacier Point and descends to the valley and offers astounding views of Yosemite Falls; a day in the high-country, where snow was still falling in mid-June; a top-to-bottom hike beside Nevada Falls (594 feet) and Vernal Falls (318 feet); a visit to the Sequoia Grove...
We also ate at the coolest food-stops in the park; took shorter walks within the valley; watched trout in the Merced River, deer beside Mirror Lake and climbers on the face of El Capitan; slept in the cool night air in "tent cabins;" and even hit a few San Francisco highlights, including a Giants game, before flying home from California.
When I think back on the trip, I'm amazed at how much we saw in one week, and how none of it ever seemed rushed. Dad couldn't have planned a finer outing for his boy who loved outdoor adventures.
Thank you, Dad, and Happy Father's Day. I love you.