My wife, the Hungarian Goddess, and I just returned from a wonderful one week vacation in Yosemite!
I've been many times as a child and young adult, but haven't been for 17 years or so.
It was the Hungarian's first time.
We camped in White Wolf, which is a couple of miles off the Tioga Pass road on the way to Tuolemne Meadows.
The weather was wonderful outside of the valley, mid to high 80s °F in the day, low 50s at night. The whole experience overall was just amazing. Words cannot adequately describe it, which is why later I'll try to post some pics.
We did lots of hiking in both Tuolemne, around our camp in White Wolf as well as at Olmstead Point. The nice thing about Olmstead Point is that you can look into Yosemite Valley from the opposite end that most visitors see. We also went swimming at Tenaya Lake near Tuolemne. There is nothing like swimming in a clear mountain lake to refresh and revitalize your soul!
The only disappointing part was our one day visit to Yosemite Valley. Last winter had less than average snowfall so the falls were low. Yosemite Falls and Mirror Lake were completely dry. Bridalveil Falls, Vernal and Nevada Falls, although low, were still impressive. It was also very hot, about 109 °F in the afternoon.
But the worst part was the crowding!
This was not the Yosemite Valley of my childhood. The valley is as beautiful as always, but the ridiculous amount of people really spoiled the experience. Particularly disappointing was our hike up to the base of Vernal Falls. Those of you that have been there know, the last 1/4 mile or so is a fairly steep granite staircase about four feet wide. On the mountain side is a near vertical rock face, on the river side is the same nearly vertical drop. Were you or anyone to fall off the staircase (there is no railing on most of it) you would fall 30 or 40 feet onto ragged granite boulders in the river bed.
On my own, I feel perfectly comfortable climbing the hike to the falls. I've done it several times in my life and was really looking forward to sharing the experience with my Hungarian Love Goddess. But this time it was so crowded I felt like I was in the local mall the week before Christmas. It wasn't just the number of people attempting the clime, but the kind of people climbing that added to our discomfort. There were hugely obese, out-of-shape people attempting a strenuous hike that they were clearly not in condition to make. There were men and women wearing flip-flop sandals instead of appropriate hiking shoes, or even tennis shoes! There were little kids 3 and 4 years old running along the path with mom and dad nowhere in sight. Young men and teenage boys bounding down the path at break-neck speed (which in and of itself would probably be fine if it weren't for the overcrowded conditions--I was 16 years old once myself on this very trail!) completely unconcerned about anyone else on the trail, no regard for trail etiquette or even basic good manners. Several times groups of "hikers" coming the opposite direction would be walking 3 or 4 abreast on a trial only wide enough for that many in a single direction. Frequently I was bumped by others coming the other direction. Simply put, the majority of the people on this trail simply had no business being there.
As I said, I was not worried about own abilities as hikers. I'm fairly sure-footed and only become somewhat nervous of heights when I get around 100 feet or more above a certain death should I fall. My wife is about the same, perhaps just a little more nervous of heights.
But we were both constantly worried that one of these inexperienced, unprepared, incompetent and/or simply reckless fools should slip, trip, bump or otherwise fall and take us with them. So we abandoned our plans to go to the top of the falls and returned back down from the bottom instead.
My advice: visit Yosemite, but beware the valley's crowds. Yosemite is so much more than just the valley. Anywhere and anywhere in the park you go will reward you with natural wonders beyond compare.
For my wife, the highlight of the trip were the views from Glacier Point. She described it this way, "Breathtaking!"
BTW - If you didn't notice I wasn't around for the last week, please don't tell me you didn't miss me. My fragile ego couldn't handle it!