Into the High Sierras! Our Kid-Free Adventure in Yosemite (Part I)

Version 2 We’re back from a week in Yosemite… a week with no kids and no cell phone reception! For those who are curious about what we did and how we did it, here is a bit of our itinerary, and also all my best photos.

Our children are now 4.5 and 2.5, and so Elliott and I had been talking about taking a longer trip away, just the two of us. We’ve slipped away before, but never for more than two nights. This time we were dreaming of going for a week or so, maybe out of cell phone reception, and perhaps as far-flung as South America.

The grandparents eagerly lined up to care for the kids; Elliott’s parents came to our house the first three days and my parents took over for the final four days of our trip. Thank you again, wonderful parents, for making this possible!

Eventually we decided to do something rugged, something we couldn’t do with our children anytime soon. We chose the Yosemite High Sierra Camps loop, which is a network of five camps each located about 10 miles apart, and all at about 9,000-10,000 feet in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of northern California. We chose the option that allowed us to eat a full breakfast and dinner at each camp and sleep in their tent cabins (more about those below), which meant that we only had to bring a daypack with us that held our clothes, toiletries, and books.

And then at 4am on Wednesday, August 26, we took off for Yosemite!

IMG_1128 After eight hours of driving, we arrived and found a place to leave our rental car for a few days. Then we caught the shuttle to the trailhead and started walking. By now it was about 4pm and dinner would be served at the camp at 6:30, so we were glad we only had 2.5 miles to go that evening to get to our first camp.

IMG_1131 IMG_1134 May Lake High Sierra Camp is beautiful, especially because of the quiet, calm mirror of the lake itself right next to the camp.


IMG_1142 That night we got our introduction to the meals at the camps. Each one was better than the last!

At 6pm the bell rang for hot drinks, and everyone gathered to talk and sip tea, coffee, or hot cocoa. At 6:30 the bell rang again, and everyone filed into the meal tent to share long tables and eat a family-style meal. Dinner always started off with a bowl of homemade soup, freshly baked bread (at 10,000 feet!), and a green salad. Afterwards came the main course (salmon, pulled pork, chicken, steak, spaghetti and meatballs… it changed every night) accompanied by sides like roasted vegetables or rice. And they always served dessert!

That night we slept for the first time in a tent cabin. We always hoped to get our own tent cabin, but they were four- to six-person tents and we never got so lucky! Thankfully we always had great roommates, and with earplugs we didn’t hear any snoring. The cots were comfortable, and we slept in our own sheet sacks between the blankets and pillows that the camp provided.

IMG_1140 Beautiful spot for morning worship by the lake!

becca-garber-yosemite-high-sierra-camps-1 After hot drinks at 7am and then breakfast at 7:30 (hot oatmeal or cold cereal, fresh fruit, pancakes, bacon or sausage, and a large omelet to share… it was ridiculously good food), we set off on our 9-mile hike to Sunrise Lakes High Sierra Camp.

IMG_1147 (1) Along the way we stopped for our last bit of cell phone reception to call our kids for the next four days. A mule supply train walked by, carrying food to May Lake for that evening’s dinner.

IMG_1152 IMG_1155 I waited by this lake for 1.5 hours while Elliott decided to catch the shuttle back to the car, dump a bunch of extra stuff he had overpacked, and get my camera — because my phone battery was dying quickly and I wanted to take lots of photos. A good decision all around, although it set us back on our hike that day.

IMG_0121 This is one of the Sunrise Lakes, which were all so calm and beautiful. This was the hardest day of hiking for me, because the last six miles of the hike were all uphill, and I was really feeling the altitude. That night I woke up to a splitting headache that lasted most of the night, even after I took some Ibuprofen. Thankfully, though, that was the turning point! Afterwards the hiking was smooth sailing.

IMG_0132 Setting off across Sunrise Meadows for our third day on the trails. My naturalist husband loved watching and identifying birds and animals along the way, so this was a familiar pose.

IMG_0134 Gray morning because of a forest fire nearby. Thankfully this is the closest we got to one. becca-garber-yosemite-high-sierra-camps-3 becca-garber-yosemite-high-sierra-camps-4 My husband catching trout with his bare hands on our lunch break! And me by a mountain juniper tree, one of my favorites that I learned to recognize on this trip.

IMG_0187 IMG_0209 IMG_0235 Merced Lake High Sierra Camp was the largest of the five camps, with about two dozen tent cabins arranged in a circle in a meadow. We made friends that night with some hikers our own age from the South, two things which were pretty unusual — everyone else was middle-aged and from Minnesota.

OK, just kidding about Minnesota.

IMG_0231 We spent the afternoon on the beach by the creek at Merced Lake, reading and dozing. Actually, Elliott said, “This photo should be titled, ‘Where Becca took a nap.'” There are few things more satisfying than sleeping, though, after you have finished your hard work for the day and have nothing else to do — no dinner to make, no kids to care for, no work to accomplish — nothing else to do all day… except rest!

And so we did.

More tomorrow from the rest of our hike!

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14 Responses to Into the High Sierras! Our Kid-Free Adventure in Yosemite (Part I)

  1. Poppy September 8, 2015 at 11:07 am #

    Beautiful pics! I especially liked the mules. I assume they are my fav, the mammoth mules. Sounds like a fantastic trip.

    • Becca September 8, 2015 at 9:45 pm #

      Yes, they’re your fave! They surprised me by how beautiful they were.

  2. Nicole September 8, 2015 at 12:34 pm #

    Wow!! That looks like an amazing getaway. One that Lew and I would SURELY love. Perhaps when my youngest is old enough to leave we’ll have to replicate that very same trip. The pictures probably don’t do justice to the beauty, but thanks for sharing them. I can’t wait to see you in November, unless you guys will be gone (hopefully not!). Looking forward to part II. Ciao for now!

    • Becca September 8, 2015 at 9:46 pm #

      You guys would love it for sure! It was so beautiful and so refreshing.

      Our plans haven’t changed for November, and we’re excited to see you guys! We’d love to have you over for Thanksgiving dinner, too, if you don’t have any other plans. ;) Can’t wait!

      • Nicole September 9, 2015 at 8:45 pm #

        Yes, we’d love to come over for Thanksgiving dinner! We don’t have plans other than just to relax and enjoy Southern Cali during November and catch up with some dear friends! We’ll be in touch for sure between now and then.

  3. Tracy September 8, 2015 at 9:51 pm #

    Wow! This sounds and looks amazing…for you guys! One of the first endearing conversations that Keith and I had during our dating experience was when we both discovered that we hated camping! It was love from that moment on! ? so glad you found a getaway that suited you both so well!

    • Becca September 16, 2015 at 9:42 pm #

      Haha, yes, we camped on our honeymoon… but then kids came and we haven’t camped in so long. This was a great way for us to reconnect and unwind, but I know it isn’t for everyone. :)

  4. Lucy September 9, 2015 at 3:28 am #

    What a great story. I think it takes courage to leave home and your children for a week. But hiking together, exploring that beauty must’ve been a rich reward. Reading your blog and seeing the photos makes me want to take that trek.

    • Becca September 16, 2015 at 9:41 pm #

      It was a restful time thanks to your excellent care of the kids. Love you, Mom!

  5. Erin September 9, 2015 at 9:15 am #

    I was reading this post and thinking about how much I would LOVE this trip and wondering if I could talk my husband into it. And then I busted out laughing because of course, I’m middle aged and from MN. ;) Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos and thanks for the laugh!

    • Becca September 16, 2015 at 9:41 pm #

      Hah! You’d fit right in on the High Sierra loop! We met some amazing people on it. :)

  6. indo bokep streaming September 28, 2015 at 6:32 am #

    Is it possible to register and pay on site or past the July 15th deadline if I am presenting? The registration form is in the mail however it won’t get there by July 15th.


  1. Into the High Sierras! Our Kid-Free Adventure in Yosemite (Part 2) - Becca Garber - September 10, 2015

    […] This story picks up midway through our five-day hiking trip in Yosemite. Part 1 is here! […]

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    […] called him Forest because he came into being last August when Elliott and I went on a hiking trip in the High Sierra backcountry of Yosemite. His life began in a forest! We also hope and pray that he will love and care for Creation and its […]

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