Yosemite with a toddler: Day 1, Bridalveil Falls, Mirror Lake, and setting up camp.

Yosemite with a toddler: Day 1, Bridalveil Falls, Mirror Lake, and setting up camp.

This week was National Parks week (the week leading up to Earth Day) and entrance to any National Parks was free. This draws people into the parks when they (the parks) might otherwise be calm in the early Spring when schools are in session and some attractions remain closed due to winter conditions. Consequently, when we made our camping reservations in December, the campgrounds were already fully booked for Saturday night, despite the fact that the first day to make reservations for a mid-April trip was December 15th.

On Saturday night we stayed at Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort, which is located approximately 30 minutes from the Arch Rock entrance to the park (closest to Yosemite Valley). We opted to stay in one of the Tent Cabins at Yosemite Bug so that we could avoid setting up our tent and unpacking our gear in the dark. The cabin was minimal (lights and beds), but comfortable and clean. The shared bathrooms and showers (individual stalls) were well maintained, nice, and clean. The setting was beautiful as well. It was a great choice for a place to crash for the night.

In the morning, our first stop was the Bridalveil Falls trail, an easy half-mile (round trip) to the base of the falls — perfect for a toddler learning to hike. Temperatures vary across the deep floor of Yosemite Valley in the morning, since only one side receives the sun and the other remains shaded by the towering granite walls. Bridalveil Falls is on the shady side of the valley, and as a result, the spray felt very cold and damp during our walk. We saw several waterproof jackets and ponchos on the visitors who were in-the-know; we’d recommend it for any future visitors.

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Next, we headed toward Half-Dome Village to check-in to our campground at Upper Pines Campground. We were about an hour before the check-out time, but fortunately, the people who were staying at our site before us were just pulling out. We set up our tents in the shadow of Half-Dome and planned out our afternoon activities over lunch. Sprout, a pine cone aficionado, was beside herself at the sight of the treasures scattered amply under the ponderosa pine.

We opted to walk to Mirror Lake, a seasonal attraction that can only be viewed in the winter and spring. The trail to the lake was flat and secluded — another great hike for beginners, toddlers, and those fatigued from 17 hours of travel to the park (i.e., us). The lake, as expected, was photogenic, reflecting the trees and granite walls looming above it. We spent some time sitting and exploring the area. Parts of the lake bed were already dry and allowed excellent views of the granite features nearby. The easiest way back to camp was on the same trail that brought us to the lake, so after an hour or two, we made our leisurely way back. At the campsite, we built a roaring fire and cooked sausages (hot dogs, really, but this name disturbed Sprout) with beans and sauerkraut. As the air grew colder, we headed

into our tents and stored our energy for more Yosemite adventures tomorrow.

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