Day 8 – Escondido to Joshua Tree to Death Valley
Once I was in Escondido I realized that my original itinerary had 6 of California’s 9 National Parks…. and my being my crazy self decided that I can’t leave any out, so I revamped my entire “plan” and hit them all. That meant for a long driving day to get 2 in one day, since I also had NO desire to camp in Death Valley NP in June. So I set out by 6 am Monday morning to head from Escondido to Joshua Tree National Park. I enjoyed driving through the park, checking out Key’s View, and some hiking throughout the trees to play with some photography. I also thought that it was very fitting to jam to U2’s album Joshua Tree whilst exploring the park.
From Joshua Tree NP I headed to Death Valley National Park. Death Valley, although knows for it’s historical weather, it is the largest national park in the contiguous US. Zabriskie Point is a must see on your journey through the park!
From Death Valley I was headed to Santa Barbara. I luckily had a friend from back home staying in Santa Barbara for the month, so another place to rest up.
Day 9 – Santa Barbara
Although I’ve spent lost of time in California, before this trip I’ve never been to Santa Barbara, and man did I fall in love. This quaint little beach town not only offers a warf and marina, but also a great walking/shopping district. There is also a Downtown & Waterfront Shuttle that runs every 10 minutes and is only $0.50!!! My first day in Santa Barbara I headed straight for the water. There is nothing better than waking up, making coffee, and heading straight to the water for a stroll along the beach. Stearns Warf also offers an array of restaurants and shops. The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center is also located on the Warf. Upon my return I took the afternoon to relax and get a little watercolor paining time in.
Day 10 – Santa Barbara
Since I had spent ample time exploring the water and Warf, I decided to spend some time in the city. My first stop was the Santa Barbara Courthouse. Yes, the courthouse. I was suprised myself when reading up on things to do in Santa Barbara, but it is a gorgeous Spanish-Colonial Style building constructed in 1929. The public is able to climb the clocktower for 365 degree views of Santa Barbara…. for FREE! From there I wandered up and down State street popping in and out of eclectic shops and art galleries. That evening we went to the movies, of which there are 3 just on state street, all of which are in a cute historic theatre.
Day 11 – Channel Islands National Park
Channel Islands is located just off the coast of Santa Barbara, and is a group of 8 different islands, 5 of which are part of the National Park. To get to the park you must book transportaiton through Island Packers. They run morning and afternoon departures, allowing for either day trips, or overnight camping. I boarded a 9am shuttle out to Santa Cruz Island, Scorpion Beach. During the hour trek to the island we saw seals, sea lions, hundreds of dolphins, and even a humpback whale. Once on the island I decided to hike to Potato Harbor, a trail along the cliffs with spectacular views.
Once back to Santa Barbara it was time to say goodbye to society and prep for my upcoming week of camping.
Day 12 – Santa Barbara to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
From Santa Barbara I entered Sequoia park via 198 to the Foothills Visitor Center. There I realized that all camping in Sequoia was full so I headed north with hopes of finding something in Kings Canyon, and oh boy did I. I snagged a phenomenal spot in Sunset Campground on the edge overlooking the valley and Fresno below.
Once I snagged myself a spot, I headed out do do some typical touristy sight seeing. First I headed to see ‘ol General Sherman, the largest living tree in the world. Then I went to tackle Moro Rock, which offered amazing views of the valley.
From Moro Rocks I went up into Kings Canyon NP to check out General Grant. After I had my fill of touristy sight seeing, I headed back to my campsite for some much needed hammock reading time.
Day 13 – Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
After much debate on what hike to tackle with a full day, I finally decided on Mist Falls, located at Roads End. The trail to Mist Falls is relatively flat, yet riddles with blood sucking mosquitos…even though I had “DEETed Up” before the journey. The 8 mile roundtrip journey winds along the river, offing beautiful scenery all along the way. It was a wonderful hike as it’s wasn’t busy, and felt secluded amongst the forest. After the hike I went back to camp, to once again read in my hammock.
Day 14 – Kings Canyon National Park to Yosemite National Park
It was hard to say goodbye to Kings Canyon with all of the beauty it has to offer, but it was time to finally make it to Yosemite National Park, and oh boy was the dive in fantastic. Driving in the first stop along the way, was Tunnel View. The iconic landscape of Yosemite Valley. From there I headed into Yosemite Valley, and holy moly was it BUSY! So I knew first priority was finding camping, since I haven’t made any reservations for this trip. I was gunning for Camp 4, as it was a walk in campground or $6 a night, and lucky me there was still spaces open, even though it was after noon. I then set up camp, tent and hammock, got all situated and walked to the visitor center to claim my stamp in my passport. There I talked to the Rangers about recommendations for the following day. From the visitors center I hiked to Yosemite Falls, and then back on to camp, to curl up with a good book.
Check back for the following weeks adventures!