Panorama Trail in Yosemite National Park

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Every time we visit Yosemite, we tackle a big hike. This year, we had a couple of awesome hiking buddies! One of Jason’s best friends from high school, Jason, and his wife, Robyn, moved from Wisconsin to the Los Angeles area a few years ago. We were so happy when our friends were able to spend our first day in Yosemite with us!

Since Robyn and Jason had never visited Yosemite before, they left the plans for the day up to us. We suggested a hike, and we set out to find a new-to-us trail that would also give them a good glimpse of the magnificence of Yosemite. After a little research, we chose the 8-mile Panorama Trail from Glacier Point to the Valley floor.

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The first highlight of the hike was coming upon a grouse. We assumed he was courting a lady (who we never saw), because he paid no attention to us. The Jasons were in awe of how close we could get to the bird, because they’re normally very flighty.

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The first two miles of the hike were absolutely incredible! There were great views all around us – I guess they don’t call it the Panorama Trail for nothing. I soaked it all in. It was one of those instances of being completely in the moment and appreciating being right were I was, being with great people, and doing something that I love to do.

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Eventually, we hit our first major landmark: Illilouette Fall. We didn’t get much of a look at the waterfall, but we enjoyed a short snack break along the banks of Illilouette Creek.

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Little did we know that the “easy” part of the hike was over. The hike had been all downhill up to this point, but you have to hike up out of the creek valley. A series of steep switchbacks take you up 800 feet again. They are no joke! I definitely struggled, and I felt like a total wuss when another hiker ran – yes, ran – past us to catch back up with his group. Of course, the group was full of super fit, built men.

The climb seemed to go on forever, but we finally made it to the top and started going downhill again. But now, the downhill was the problem. It wasn’t the smooth, easy downhill of the first part of the hike. Our legs took a beating on the final stretch.

Since it was our friends’ first time to the park, we added the short trip to the top of Nevada Fall. For as difficult as the hike is whether hiking up along the Mist Trail, like we did the first year, or hiking down from Glacier Point, I never thought I would find myself at the top of Nevada Fall again. I savored the whole thing.

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We hiked the John Muir Trail down to the Valley. I totally didn’t remember that stretch being so rough. Either I was way more fit three years ago (which isn’t out of the question) or it was so bad, I blocked it. That last couple of hours were excruciating.

Despite how bad my legs hurt, I loved every minute of it. I felt like I really accomplished something. And when you are surrounded by the beauty of Yosemite and you’re with people you love, it’s just the best thing ever.

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