Hiking to Haiku Stairs a.k.a. Stairway to Heaven is no easy task. The trail is actually closed and illegal to hike. However, there is a back route to reach the stairs via Moanalua Valley Middle Ridge trail which is long, challenging, and more dangerous.This hiking adventure has been on our bucket list for a while now ever since we saw the stairs while driving on the interstate, H-3 of which you can see from this freeway. So, we were determined to take on this unique and beautiful journey.
History of Kamananui Valley
Before we dive into the dirty details of this extraordinary day hike, let’s talk about some of the history of this particular trail and the stairs. Otherwise known as Kamananui Valley, this section of the trail towards the Haiku stairs is mostly flat, comprised of lose rocks, and muddy or water stream crossings. The lush forest lined path and bridges will take you on a journey through history.
On the trail, there are several remnants of Hawaii’s past during the 1500s-1800s. These include stone petroglyphs and articles left by early missionary; Samuel Damon. The brick fireplace from his residence is here now covered in moss, vines, and leaves. And a staircase that once led to the home, now leads to know where.
The Haiku Stairs or Haiku Ladder is a very steep hiking trail on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. It’s comprised of wooden stairs that are spiked to the south side of Haiku Valley. This ladder (stairs) was installed to enable the construction of antenna cables to create a continuous communication link between Wahiawa and Haiku Valley Naval Radio Station. The antennas transmitted extremely low frequency radio signals that could reach U.S. Navy submarines as far away as Tokyo Bay.
The wooden steps were later replaced with metal steps and ramps. Today, this hiking trail is closed and there is a hefty fine if caught, possibly up to $1000 fine. There is however, a different and somewhat legal route to take to reach the stairs. Follow along as I take you on this exciting excursion of hiking to Haiku Stairs | Stairway to Heaven Hawaii.
The Adventure Begins
The forecast is calling for full sunshine and clear skies on the day we decided to hike to the Haiku Stairs. The morning is gorgeous with its fresh dew, quiet, and peaceful skies awaiting for sunrise. We are joined by our local native friend, Mr. R. as we head out armed with our backpacks, water, lunch, and hiking gear.
We arrive at the parking lot area of Moanalua Valley Park-Directions, gather our things and start trekking towards the stairs around 7 a.m. Restrooms are available at this park and they are clean. We kept up a great pace and only a few people caught up to us. Early on the trail is quite smooth and wide, but later becomes full of lose rocks and very muddy.
We continue on for about three miles approximately until the trail becomes much more challenging with climbing and slithering through mud and trees. This hike has a little bit of everything that any adventurer would love! Rocky paths, thick mud, water streams, swinging ropes to use for climbing, and gorgeous views!
Climbing The Ridge
After passing through about 17 stream beds and bridges; we come to the point where the fun begins. Be cautious, the early part of this route is noticeable, wide and somewhat smooth.
However, the ridge part of the trail isn’t quite as obvious and you might miss it. Once you pass through the final stream to begin the ridge section of the trail, you will incline about 900 feet for about a mile. The second mile will bring about an 1100 feet elevation along with tree roots, mud, and sharp drop offs.
Further up on the ridge section, it is more exposed and open that of which strong winds can be present and again sharp drop offs on either side.
There are approximately three sections where a rope is available to assist with climbing and descent on the ridge.
We reach the summit of the Moanalua Valley Middle Ridge Trail finally. Now there is still a short distance of about a half mile to the radio towers and the top of the Haiku Stairs. The views are amazing from up here!
The Radio Tower
You must not be fooled as you are so close to the stairs now and lose focus. This section is even more muddy and slippery. More tree roots, and several areas you lose your footings.
Reaching The Haiku Stairs
The moment we have waited for! We finally reach the stairs and radio tower and continue to be in awe. As the beautiful blue and partly cloudy skies linger on, we are lucky to enjoy a gorgeous day of mostly sunshine today.
More fabulous photos of the Haiku stairs and views from up here!
Although very tempting to continue on and take the stairs down and finish the hike, this is highly illegal. Please do not take this path. We are now ready for our return trip down the ridge after about an hour at the Stairs/Radio Tower enjoying the views and having lunch. We took our time, proceeded with caution, and made it back to the parking lot about 9 hours later.
FitLife Tips and Gear
FitLife Hiking Tip: We had hiking poles with us and are so grateful to our friend and hiking pal for providing us with his poles. They were extremely helpful during this challenging hike. On the hike, a couple hikers mentioned to us how much they wish they had poles to assist them here.
FitLife Hiking Gear: I had concern about my feet getting soaked and start swelling. As a part of my preparation, I wore water resistant socks and waterproof shoes. I couldn’t be happier with my Columbia hiking shoes and my Darn Tough socks! After the hike, I was pretty dirty and my shoes were filthy and muddy. Having dry feet made my hiking experience so much better! We cleaned them right up with soap and water, back to good as new too!
Hiking to the Haiku Stairs | Stairway to Heaven is one unbelievable hiking experience! The scenery and the views are incredible and the hiking adventure is intense! If you are looking for a rugged, Indiana Jones type experience, then this hike is perfect! Hawaii offers so many hiking adventures that can add a little spark to your visit. Be safe, enjoy and have fun!
**All photos and videos are owned by Fitlifeandtravel.com. All rights reserved.
Visiting a museum can be an interesting and enlightening experience for anyone. So when the opportunity came to explore the incredible USS Midway naval aircraft carrier now turned into a museum, we jumped all over it. The museum also offers special discounts and no fee for veterans and their families certain times of the year. Veteran’s Day is one of those times. I am excited to share a day at the museum: USS Midway Museum San Diego with you.
The USS Midway naval aircraft carrier has amassed tons of military history dating back since the 1940s. She has seen battles that would make your stomach churn upside down and then some. From the wartime operations in the Vietnam War to the relentless battles in the Indian Ocean, to the rescues out at sea and Operation Desert Storm. Read more on her wartime campaigns here:
The Museum Experience
The San Diego Bay area is absolutely beautiful with its Embarcadero and welcoming and pleasant surroundings. It is quite impressive strolling along side the dock next to the ship as you approach the entryway to pay admission.
You will receive a welcome aboard and will move to proceed to cross the plank entering the main deck (Hangar Deck). You can choose your own experience via an island tour, talks, and an audio tour. Here is a brief 3-D walk through video.
As we continue to peruse the museum we find ourselves speechless at times and wondering to ourselves, ‘If these walls could talk.” It brings back several memories of my days in the Navy. While I was stationed at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, a few of my shipmates were stationed on the USS Midway. They described the experience as challenging and somewhat chaotic all the time. The shipboard life for those in the Navy is not easy and visiting this museum gives you a new found respect for those who serve or have served.
What To Expect
Be prepared to be amazed! This experience left me speechless and in awe!
The museum excursion includes the flight simulators as well, which offers insight into the experience of air to air combat. Strolling through each compartment, you will see how small and how limited space there is on this ship. An aircraft carrier is like a small town and has all the things you need as a service member.
Visiting the USS Midway Museum in San Diego takes you into the life of a sailor on an aircraft carrier. You will learn about the many battles and sacrifices made for our freedoms. The opportunity to get an up close look at 25 restored aircraft static displays and over 60 exhibits is quite extraordinary. You will see the areas where sailors slept and showered, and worked endless hours in the control room and many other compartments.
Although I am not a fan of gift shops etc., I would recommend stopping by this one. It is quite unique and offers so many special mementos and souvenirs. In the anticipation of the upcoming film, “Top Gun,” there are some very cool memorabilia, T-shirts, and unique gear to purchase or collect. I loved this movie, so it was really cool to see these collectibles.
To tease and entice you a little bit to go experience this amazing museum, here are a few fun facts to know:
- 1945 USS Midway is commissioned as the largest ship in the world
- 4500 crew members
- 80,000 haircuts annually
- 13,500 meals daily
- 500 pies for dessert
- 1000 loaves of bread daily
- 2000 compartments
- 1500 telephones
- 212,000 horsepower
- 3.4 million gallons of fuel
- 18 decks
- 1001 feet long
- 30,000 light fixtures
- 69,000 ones fully loaded
- 1992 Decommissioned in San Diego, CA
- 2004 Opened as the USS Midway Museum*
*Information sourced from the Midway Museum brochure.
To plan your next visit to the museum and for admission pricing information, check out the website below.
USS Midway Museum
910 N. Harbor Drive
San Diego, CA 92101
The museum is also wheelchair accessible as well as offering many other ADA services including American Sign Language and elevator access on all three main levels.
We highly recommend a visit to this museum for anyone visiting the San Diego area. It is a great way to spend time with family and friends at the same time learning about military history.
The fall season is one of my favorite times of the year! Autumn presents an opportunity to reflect back on the year you’ve had thus far. And it also allows you to get excited about what’s coming. This time of year you might experience a fresh crispness in the air, sweater weather, and special moments with family and friends. Here is a list of some of the best Fall events San Diego that you might wish to take part in, if you are are visiting or live here!
GI FILM FESTIVAL SAN DIEGO
Dates: September 24-29, 2019
The GI Film Festival San Diego entails film screenings, panel discussions, a family movie night, and awards while featuring the local military culture in the community.
GASLIGHT STEAMPUNK EXPO
Dates: September 26-29, 2019
Gaslight Steampunk Expo takes you back in time as you revisit Jules Verne’s classic tale of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Explore the Stargate display, Tea Pot Racing, Sands of Time Fashion Show, and so much more fun festivities!
MIRAMAR AIR SHOW
Dates: September 27-29, 2019
Marine Corps Air Station Miramar is set to hold another outstanding air show event! This is the largest military Air Show in the country!
Dates: September 28-29, 2019
The San Diego Waterfront Park is home to CRSSD Festival, a two-day electronic music festival. This is an amazing event featuring three stages and 36+ performers. There will be craft beer, mixed drinks, food, and of course, plenty of music.
Dates: September 27-28, 2019.
A 47-year tradition, the Poway Rodeo is back on at its finest moments! Poway is highlighting its Old West and cowboy heritage once again! Enjoy the best of saddle bronc and bull riding, adults only Rodeo Jam dances, and a special Kids Dollar day promotion.
ANNUAL PACIFIC BEACHFEST
Date: October 5, 2019
Pacific BeachFest has something for everyone including a fish taco contest, beach volleyball, craft beer, 5K run, kids activities and music!
ART SAN DIEGO CONTEMPORARY ART SHOW
Dates: October 10-13, 2019
Art San Diego features over 500 leading contemporary artists, museum exhibitions, art labs, events, and much more.
Dates: October 11-13, 2019
Throw yourself into this wonderful cultural celebration in Pacific Beach all about Polish culture, traditions and tasty cuisine.
HARVEST FESTIVAL ORIGINAL ART & CRAFT SHOW
Dates: October 11-13, 2019
This year’s Harvest Festival features hundreds of artisans exhibiting American handmade items, strolling entertainment, festival food and a Kidzone. Another Fall fun themed event at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.
LA JOLLA ART & WINE FESTIVAL
Dates: October 12-13, 2019
Just steps from the beautiful Pacific Ocean on Girard Avenue, bask in beautiful San Diego sun while meandering through over 150 handpicked artist booths, for a weekend of fine art, along with delectable wines, craft beers, scrumptious food, and live music.
SAN DIEGO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
An event featuring engaging films, the hottest parties, intriguing panels, celebrity sightings, and industry events.
SAN DIEGO ITALIAN FILM FESTIVAL
Dates: October 15-27, 2019
The San Diego Italian Film Festival showcases the best of new Italian film with a series of premieres ranging from dramas and comedies to documentaries.
WITHOUT WALLS WOW FESTIVAL
Dates: October 17-20, 2019
The WoW Festival is an interesting and exhilarating experience where impressive and site-based work designed to go outside the traditional theatre spaces. It’s unique in that you are both participant and performer.
BORREGO DAYS DESERT FESTIVAL
Dates: October 18-20, 2019
Borrego Days Desert Festival is fun filled event to enjoy inspiring art, entertainment, delicious food and drink, and so much more!
BULLS OF SANT’AGATA CHARGE LITTLE ITALY
Date: October 19, 2019
Friends, start your engines!! This event entails the streets of Little Italy hosting over 40 classic and rare “Italian bulls,” also known as Lamborghinis.
SALTDOG CLASSIC BEACH FESTIVAL
Date: October 20, 2019
This family and pet friendly event at Seaside State Beach in Solana Beach is a perfect October festival to enjoy. You can indulge in this music and art festival that is filled with wonderful music from local artists performing under the bright sunshine while enjoying the tropical drinks to cool down.
ESCONDIDO GRAND AVENUE FESTIVAL
Date: October 20, 2019
The Escondido Grand Avenue Festival is offering you live entertainment, over 400 vendors, kids rides and activities, and food from around the world, since 1989.
WCKD VILLAGE HALLOWEEN FESTIVAL
Date: October 26th 6PM-Midnight
They call this the never ending festival of nightmares as the streets morph into something unimaginable! It’s a terrifyingly dark journey into the WCKD Village where you will experience three stages of top talent, immersive elements, and mind bending dimensions and delusions!
FALL CARLSBAD VILLAGE STREET FAIRE
Date: November 3, 2019
Indulge yourself in the beauty of the seaside city while browsing through unique booths, delectable eats and family fun at the Carlsbad Village Faire.
FALLBACK FESTIVAL PRESENTED BY G.Q.H.F.
Date: November 3, 2019
Climb aboard an old-fashioned hayride, pan for gold, check out a Wild West Show, and saddle up on pony rides. Enjoy this free funday Sunday with two stages of live entertainment.
FLEET WEEK SAN DIEGO
Dates: November 4-12, 2019
Fleet Week San Diego honors and celebrates the men and women of the military through events that entertain and alliances that thank and support these heroes.
CORONADO ISLAND FILM FESTIVAL
Dates: November 8-11, 2019
The Coronado Island Film Festival (CIFF) cordially invites you and film lovers alike to enjoy this unique historic seaside village. Other activities include contests, kid’s activities, arts and crafts, and demonstrations.
SAN DIEGO VETERAN’S DAY PARADE
Dates: November 11, 2019
See over 4,000 Veterans, Active Military, Bands, Floats and Civic Groups celebrate Veterans Day with the San Diego Veteran’s Day Parade.
WONDERFRONT MUSIC & ARTS FESTIVAL
Dates: November 22-24, 2019
New in 2019, the inaugural Wonderfront Music and Arts Festival will celebrate San Diego’s culture and beach lifestyle with yacht parties and live performances held on San Diego Bay.
73RD ANNUAL MOTHER GOOSE PARADE
Date: November 24, 2019
The Mother Goose Parade is San Diego’s East County’s annual holiday kick-off celebration. El Cajon is where you will enjoy whimsical floats, clowns, bands and equestrians. A family fun day to enjoy!
ENCINITAS HOLIDAY STREET FAIR
Date: November 24, 2019
Encinitas Holiday Street Fair is a perfect event to help you get a head start on your holiday shopping, with more than 450 booths, plus dozens of unique downtown retailers.
JAZZ FEST AND SWING EXTRAVAGANZA
Dates: November 27 – December 1, 2019
The 40th San Diego Jazz Fest presents a array of traditional jazz music, from ragtime to hot jazz to swing to rockabilly at the Town & Country Resort and Hotel in Hotel Circle.
JULIAN, Fall Events
THE PUMPKIN PATCH AT JULIAN FARM
Dates: September 21-22, 2019 10AM to 5PM
It’s Harvest Season and a chance at some pumpkin patch fun! Choose pumpkins that are priced by a slot board based on .60 a pound. This is 4 acres of pumpkins planted by the farm and are waiting for you to pick off the vine. You can also enjoy Pioneer Field Trips and Pumpkin Patch Field Trips, to learn more about this event, please visit Julian Mining Company.
Julian Farm and Orchard at 4381 California 78 or Julian Road, Wynola Santa Ysabel, California, United States, 92070
APPLES WITH THE CAMELS
Date: Saturday, September 21, 2019 1PM TO 4PM
at Oasis Camel Dairy
RAMONA, Fall events
TASTE OF RAMONA
Date: October 12, 2019 11AM to 5PM
Head to the country east of San Diego and enjoy this spectacular annual event of Taste of Ramona!
San Diego is known as America’s Finest City and if you have ever been here, you probably will agree! I can say that things are not always perfect here, but it is pretty darn close. The California lifestyle is in full force around here with surfers galore conquering every wave. Where flip-flops are considered business casual. You will find the laid back lifestyle contagious when you are here. So I compiled a list of must see spectacular beaches in San Diego that will most certainly make your experience here unforgettable!
Torrey Pines State Beach
The community of Torrey Pines is located north of La Jolla and south of Del Mar. Torrey Pines State Beach has it all! There are hiking trails, cliffs, beach, and views! If you visit San Diego, you must see Torrey Pines.
The 2.3-mile loop trail takes you through natural shrub and landscapes. Eventually leading you to a stairway path down to the beach. As you hike the Torrey Pines trail, you will see amazing cliff side and ocean views, birds, and beautiful wildflowers.
There is a parking lot where a fee is collected, however, there is also free parking along the road side which is No. Torrey Pines Road / So. Camino Del Mar if you can find an open spot. Explore the entire area and visit Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. DIRECTIONS
La Jolla Cove | La Jolla Shores
This quintessential smaller coastal community of La Jolla is located in San Diego County. It might be one of the most beautiful beach towns I’ve ever seen. This small beach community isn’t your typical little beach town.
There are numerous things to do and see in La Jolla. You will find art galleries galore, quaint swimsuit boutiques, and collectible shops throughout.
You will also enjoy delicious dining with an ocean view, picnic hot spots in the park, and a lovely afternoon chatting with the seals and sealife up close and personal.
Beach In Coronado
Known as the Crown City, Coronado features one of the prettiest beaches in town! Also home to the iconic Hotel Del Coronado, of which you can schedule tours and learn more about this historical place. With its sparkling beach sand and cresting waves, Coronado offers endless possibilities for fun! You will soon know why this beach is named one of the top beaches for families by this vacation critic. DIRECTIONS
I have many fond memories of when I was hanging out at PB, as the locals call it, during my younger days of fun. I’ve spent many weekends soaking in the sun, playing volleyball, and enjoying a fruity beverage on this beach. It is known for its parties and as a spring break destination. There are, however; many activities to do here outside of the ‘party’ thing. You might be surprised. Here are a few ideas:
- Enjoy an early morning treat at Kono’s Surf Club Café; breakfast is served all day.
- Bike or walk along the Pacific Beach Boardwalk
- Watch the sunset on Crystal Pier
- Enjoy a beer at PB Shore Club- yummy sandwiches too!
- Grab a tasty ice cream treat at Baked Bear. (You’re welcome).
- Take a short detour over to Mission Beach and enjoy Belmont Park! Take a roller coaster ride, browse the shops, and indulge in some tasty treats! DIRECTIONS
Beach In Encinitas
Moonlight State Beach, Encinitas
I love the drive to visit the beach in Encinitas, the gorgeous Moonlight State Beach area. Known as a haven for surfers and at times lingering sea life such as sharks.
You might ask why do they call it Moonlight State Beach? During the days in the early 1900s’ locals would come to the beach area and enjoy a picnic at midnight. You will find the ultimate beach experience here with tons of activities for both adults and kids. From surfing and swimming to volleyball, you will find something to enjoy! DIRECTIONS
Beach In Carlsbad
Located about 30 miles north of San Diego, you will find this beautiful beach a favorite to add to your list. If you are looking for a quiet, unique beach setting, look no further. We enjoyed the afternoon here with our parents as we spent the day walking along the beach, sifting through numerous rocks, and watching the seagulls. It is the perfect clean and quiet beach to visit. It’s also great for families and picnics! Popular activities include swimming, surfing, picnicking, and camping. DIRECTIONS
Sunset Cliffs | Ocean Beach
One of the most beautiful beach areas to photograph is at Sunset Cliffs. Although not your typical soft sandy beach, Sunset Cliffs Natural Park is comprised of 68 acres of unique coastal property. Located south of the Ocean Beach pier, along Sunset Cliffs Boulevard. There have been several incidents in the area because the rugged fragile coastal edge, people get too close to these areas and fall. This place is amazing with its panoramic breathtaking views and magnificent sunsets, you won’t want to miss out seeing Sunset Cliffs!
These spectacular beaches I have listed above are merely a small part of beautiful San Diego. It’s not called America’s Finest City for nothing. San Diego is the ultimate place for sunshine, adventure and beaches! If you are looking for even more unique fun things to do, you might also enjoy the local hiking trails and a ball game at Petco Park downtown!
I hope you are feeling the California beach vibe! Looking for more So Cal beach inspiration, check out WhereGalsWander!
They say everything is bigger in Texas! Combined with the gorgeous skies, rolling hills, and cowboy boots; you can add Adventures to that list too! Because they are no doubt as big and fun as they come! My recent trip to the lone star state was overflowing with adventurous amazing things to do in Austin, Texas! We usually make a trip to Austin at least once a year to visit relatives; but this time we added a bit more exciting activity to our trip. Our escapades include exploring a new trail in Colorado Bend State Park, hiking in Austin, and kayaking at Lady Bird Lake (Lake Austin), and much more! Here is my round up of amazing things to do in Austin that you might want to add to your next trip!
Gorman Trail at Colorado Bend State Park
We decide to head out to Hill Country and look to explore out in the Bend, Texas area. This imperfect trail is full of nature, flowers, and wildlife that any outdoor lover would appreciate. There are several loose rocks and cactus along this path so you must be careful.
Gorman Trail is a beautiful route that leads you down to amazing cascading waterfalls. These falls rise approximately 65 feet above the river and are a one of a kind geological formation that is alive and always changing.
The mineral rich spring water works to deposit layers of calcite which slowly then forms travertine. Meanwhile, it is also a very fragile Ecosystem and can be destroyed by simply walking on the soft rock, which is why these falls are blocked off to keep people from trampling over it.
Rated as moderate trail and is a 2.6 mile round trip distance. There is a significant steep drop to get to the falls area; a metal railing is connected to the rock steps as you descend to the lower part of the trail.
More Hiking Trails Near Austin
You will also find several other trails in the area that either intersect or lead to other enjoining trails. Go out and explore! These include the following:
- Name Distance
- Gorman Spring Trail .5 mi
- Tinaja Trail 2.8 mi
- Tie Slide Trail 2.2 mi
- Lively Loop 4.9 mi
- Windmill Trail 1.6 mi
- Cedar Chopper Loop 2.3 mi
- Dogleg Canyon Trail 1.3 mi
- River Trail 3.4 mi
- Lemons Ridge Pass 4.9 mi
- Spicewood Canyon Trail 3 mi
Camping and backpacking are also available in designated areas throughout the park. If you are looking to explore more of Texas parks, visit texasstateparks.org.
Hiking Trails Downtown Austin | Lake Austin (Lady Bird Lake)
It is not surprising that the trail at Lake Austin receives 4.4 million visits a year as hikers trek through its scenic green lush parks and peaceful shoreline. On the path you will also see an impressive city skyline, neighborhoods, ball fields, and cultural art.
This trail has it all. The choice to take a 2-mile stroll or a 10-mile excursion through urban Austin is all up to you!
Of course you may encounter a few turtles, squirrels, and bats along the way. Interestingly, Austin is home to a massive bat colony population. It is the largest urban Mexican free tail colony where the bats hide in the cracks and crevices under the Congress Avenue Bridge. They can emerge in massive groves during the spring and summer every night about 30 minutes after sundown. Check out more information at AustinBats.org.
Kayaking Lake Austin
Although I prefer a quiet, peaceful and serene setting with no people; we decided to get in the middle of it all and kayak at Lake Austin on a gorgeous late afternoon. The scene is exciting with so many kayaks, paddleboards, boats, and rough waves we crawled into our kayaks and joined in.
If you are looking for fun and amazing things to do in Austin, this is perfect! We rented our kayaks from the Texas Rowing Center located along the trail and the banks of the lake just south of the MoPac Expressway Bridge.
Covert Park at Mount Bonnell
My husband grew up in Austin and he tells me that Mount Bonnell was a place where kids in high school would go and hang out, make out, and enjoy the views. This historical park is one of Austin’s oldest tourist attractions and it is the highest point within Austin city limits. It played a significant role in the history of the military defense of Austin during 1839.
A staircase of approximately 106 steps to climb an elevation of 775 feet above sea level will take you to a view of the city skyline and Lake Austin. Mount Bonnell I would say is more of a tourist spot versus a hiking trail. It is free to park and no fee to visit here. Mount Bonnell is a great place to watch the sunset too! Location: 3800 Mount Bonnell Road, Austin, Texas 78731
Baseball at Dell Diamond
The triple A-minor league baseball team affiliate for the Houston Astros; the Round Rock Express, is the perfect thing to do with the family in the Austin area. Round Rock is the location of Dell Diamond ball field and seeing games here are just about as thrilling as they come. We enjoyed seeing the fireworks the night we were visiting this stadium to watch some baseball.
University of Texas
As an alumnus of UT, my hubby couldn’t resist returning to the school for a trip down memory lane. He gave me a private tour to some of his former classrooms and study areas of which he spent numerous hours of hard work and study time. The library was his favorite place to study here. There are several pieces of street art located throughout the campus of which I found very interesting.
In the Business School, the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange) Post. 5 was purchased and preserved in the lower level of the building. The grounds surrounding parts of the campus are beautiful and inviting. I think visiting UT is a great way to spend the afternoon in Austin.
Dining Delights In Austin
You can’t visit Austin without tempting your taste buds at an enjoyable evening of delicious dining. Our days in Austin were full of fun adventure so we were hungry every day for something tasty and delectable. Here are a few eatery options of what Austin has to offer.
Matt’s El Rancho
Serving the area since 1952, Matt’s El Rancho has a parking lot plum full on a Monday evening as we arrive ready to indulge our palates. The Martinez family brings the highest quality of ingredients and top-notch service to the name. Matt Martinez is known as “The King of Mexican” The restaurant has had its share of politicians and celebrity visitors as well, including Dennis Quaid, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top and many more.
A dining experience like no other, P. Terry’s. offers a more quality rich ingredient menu with impeccable service with a flare for the original burger joints from the 50s and 60s. The décor is amazing and the milk shakes will have you coming back for more!
Hat Creek Burger Company
Opening its doors in 2008, this company was founded by Drew Gressett with a goal to bring a simple menu of fresh, never frozen beef and vegetables for families to enjoy. We make a stop at Hat Creek whenever we visit Austin and I am so happy to know they offer fresh clean options on the menu. The Paleo Burger is especially mouth watering and so delicious! I recommend this fresh hot spot eatery if you live in Austin or are visiting!
This is the ultimate place to be to enjoy dinner with a sunset view! The Oasis offers spectacular views overlooking Lake Travis while dining! The menu includes a variety of options from Mexican cuisine to burgers and fries. You can also schedule a special event here since it offers such a fabulous location for views and sunsets! We actually held an informal 50 year wedding anniversary celebration for the folks here about 10 years ago.
The state of Texas is such a beautiful place that is rich in history and big in adventure! There are so many options to choose from to fulfill your day of fun! Our trips to Austin are usually quiet as we spend quality time with mom and dad or helping with chores and other various things around the house. It was a fantastic week to add a little bit of excitement this time. Making fond memories is what we desire to do. From hiking into the hills to see cascading waterfalls or fighting the rough waters in a kayak on Lake Austin, this is what life is all about. In fact, I am naming the subtitle of this post as Big Texas Big Memories!
As I sit here preparing to write about my incredible hiking experience to Half Dome, my mind is drawing a blank. I think I am still going through a hiking hangover. Yosemite National Park is so amazing I don’t even know where to begin. The pure magnificence of this place is astounding and anyone who has visited will know it can leave you speechless. So, I will do the best I can to take you along with me as I recall the moments of this extraordinary journey of hiking to Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.
Planning The Adventure
When planning your hiking adventure to Half Dome there are few things you need to know before you go. There is a permit required to hike the cables on Half Dome, which is the path to the very top. Only 300 hikers are allowed on this trail per day. They have what is called a lottery of which you sign up online at this website. The preseason sign up timeline for this year was March 1- 31, 2019; there is an application to complete as well as a $10 application fee for each person. You can sign up and include up to 5 people in your party. The results of the lottery are usually announced a few months prior to the installation of the cables, and they notify you by email. This year lottery results were announced on April 10, 2019; which is when I learned we would definitely be hiking to Half Dome in June.
Lodging and Dining Yosemite
Depending upon which entrance to the park you plan on taking, you can reserve rooms at a nearby hotel or reserve a camping site. If you are coming from San Francisco area, Maricopa might be the best option to find lodging, however if you are driving from Southern California, Oakhurst is probably best choice. You can also stay at various Yosemite National Park lodging located within the park. We made reservations at a Comfort Inn in the small town of Oakhurst, California. Which is about a half hour drive from the south gate entrance. In the town of Oakhurst there are plenty of dining options. Restaurants include Denny’s, several fast food places, and specialty dining such as delicious authentic Mexican and other eateries.
Now, if you are looking for lodging to have more convenient access to the park, you might consider places like Yosemite Valley Lodge, and formerly known as Majestic Yosemite Hotel; the Ahwahnee Hotel might tickle your fancy. There is also Tenaya Lodge and Cottages and Wawona Hotel as well. If you are looking for more of the bare bones and in nature kind of stay, then you may enjoy Curry Village and White Wolf Lodge. Note: Please stay up to date with Yosemite and know the list of closures before you go.
Preparing and Training for Hike
By now, I realize that we are not just talking about hiking to Half Dome in Yosemite National Park; we are no doubt doing it! So, I immediately began setting goals of which one of them is to keep up with my group, not struggle while climbing on the inclines, and not fall too far behind. Therefore, I created an exercise routine that I think will best prepare me for this hiking challenge. Here is my training schedule that includes a three month plan of preparation:
Three Months Until Hike
- Treadmill: Walking at 3.5 for 45 minutes 3.0 incline. 4-5 days / week.
- Nautilus Machine: Arm Pull / Extension 3 sets of 12 each arm
- Bicep Curls: 3 sets of 15 each arm
Two Months Until Hike
- Stair Master: 30 Minutes
- Treadmill: 30 minutes 7.0 Incline
- Abs and Arms Strengthening
One Month Until Hike
- Treadmill: Run 20-30 Minutes up 4.0 Incline then 30 Minutes walking 15.0 Incline
- Bicep Curls: 3 sets of 15 each arm 2 days a week
- Ab and Glute work and Yoga 2 days a week
What To Pack | Hiking Half Dome
Hiking to Half Dome is considered a day hike so you will be on the trail for several hours. I sat down and made a list of all the items I might need. Here is what I had in my Osprey backpack.
- Clothing; long sleeve shirt, light jacket and light rain jacket.
- Full camelback with my Yeti tumbler full of water.
- Energy protein bars
- Turkey and almond butter sandwiches- (2)
- Beanie hat
- Lipbalm with sunscreen
- Small first-aid kit in a zip lock; band-aids, antiseptic cream, anti itch cream. Small roll of black utility tape.
- Plastic bag- to use for any trash to take back with me.
- Kleenix tissues and Toilet paper.
The Journey Begins To Half Dome
Road Trip To Oakhurst
We are ready to go! It’s a Thursday morning and we have all our supplies that include a cooler with food, water, backpacks, hiking shoes, clothes, jackets, cameras, and everything else we thought we needed. It was an awesome road trip going through Los Angeles, heading north through Bakersfield, and then taking Highway 140 towards Coarsegold and Oakhurst. One of the most enjoyable things to do while road tripping is going through very cool small towns, courtesy of my friends at RoarloudTravel.
After cruising through several small towns, we finally arrived into Oakhurst. I have visited Oakhurst and Coursegold while living in Silicon Valley many years ago. I would spend a weekend or two visiting my former boss and his family in Coursegold, who owns a ranch. The annual local Rodeo is held on their property (it was back then anyway). So as you can imagine, I experienced a bit of nostalgia on this hiking adventure.
We check into our hotel and get settled, and then enjoy an early evening dinner so we can get to bed early. Our wake up call is set for 2:15 a.m. and a plan to begin the Half Dome hike is at 4:30 a.m. We are in bed by 7:30 p.m. A friend of ours; Sam, will also be joining us on this exciting hiking journey.
Hiking Yosemite National Park
There is a slight chill in the air as we see our breath in the morning darkness while we gather our backpacks, headlamps, and gloves. We leave the hotel by 3:00 a.m. and make our way to the park. I am a bit nervous knowing that we are about to embark on this iconic hike which overpowers Yosemite Valley by nearly 5000 feet and 8800 above sea level. But I am ready and excited to begin!
Finally, we pull into the Half Dome Village parking lot and we begin our trek on the trail around 4:40 a.m. Armed with clothing layers, hiking sticks, and other essentials, we proceed to tackle this very diverse trail. Realizing that we will probably end up soak and wet. The rain season was plentiful this year throughout California so there is still snow in several higher elevations throughout the park.
The medley of this trail is amazing. It begins with paved walk paths leading you through the valley of dirt and trees, to then scrambling through forest to encounter the infamous Sub Dome area to climb rock stairs.
I thought I had come prepared, I regret that I did not bring hiking sandals. Vernal Fall is incredible! The powerful force of the amount of water from the abundant rainy season this year made this climb quite a challenge.
Water was flowing everywhere, dripping from stair to stair to the misty wet vapor in the air blowing like a rainstorm. The scene is gloomy, dark, and eerie as we make our way towards the top inching closer to our destination. I am soaked from head to toe at this point.
Approaching this part of the trail is not too bad. You can get a very close look at the edge of the falls, which is an extraordinary view watching these massive water flows in full force! I actually enjoy climbing clean rock steps and switchbacks while enjoying a massive waterfall!
Half Dome Trail
Prior to reaching Half Dome trail, there may be a park ranger sitting in the area to check your permit if you are planning to hike to the top of Half Dome using the cables. We arrived in this area at approximately 9:45 a.m. and there was not a park ranger present. However, on our way down, there was someone checking permits.
Hiking Half Dome Yosemite National Park
Rated as extremely strenuous with a 4,800-foot gain, reaching this part of the trail has been so rewarding. But prior to reaching the climb on the cables, you have to get through Sub Dome. Climbing here is not as difficult as it looks, because it can be intimidating.
My goals for this hiking adventure are to take one step at a time, and that is exactly what I did! We made it to the top of Half Dome around 10:45 a.m. The time it took me to climb the cables was about 30 minutes because I made stops to rest as well as let hikers pass by as they were coming down. The views at the top are absolutely incredible! These massive granite cliffs and rock formations challenge both the body and mind. Here’s a perfect description and visionary of the final stretch to Half Dome Summit.
John Muir Hiking Trail
Since we have now experienced the awesome Mist Trail, we decided to take another path down on our return. We take the John Muir Trail which is longer yet not as steep and has several switchbacks. Our hiking adventure would end up totaling approximate 16-17 miles for the day. It’s great to be able to see two different trails on one trip.
We are completely exhausted upon our return but feeling a sense of accomplishment and still in a daze knowing that we just completed one of the most iconic hiking trails in the world. According to the information pamphlet, a note found in the 1868 Yosemite guidebook stated; “the summit of Half Dome will never be trodden by human foot.”
A point of interest that you cannot miss! An overlook of a superior view of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, and Yosemite’s high country. This viewpoint is a must see spot to capture some of your most mind-blowing photos. However, if you arrive here in late morning the wait to get into the parking lot can be hours. We found that Washburn Point, just south of Glacier Point, offers spectacular view points especially those for Vernal and Nevada Falls.
There are several areas we have yet to explore in Yosemite. If you are looking for more hiking Yosemite National Park surrounding areas, then you might want to check out the Hetch Hetchy Trail. My gal pal from Where Gals Wander shares her journey through this interesting trail on one of her adventures in Yosemite. I can’t wait to go back! As I continue to return to reality after hiking Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, I am still in a bit of bewilderment. I can’t believe I hiked a trail and climbed to a place that only a set number of people have been. This is one extraordinary feeling and one I will never forget.
Park Information and Details
Yosemite National Park
PO Box 577
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389
Phone: (209) 372-0200
- Yosemite Valley
- Glacier Point / Wawona / Mariposa Grove
- Yosemite Wild Places
- Half Dome
- Hetch Hetchy
- El Capitan
- Hiking Yosemite National Park
- Camping: Reservations are required March through November for Yosemite National Park campgrounds. Some are first-come, first served. For campground reservations, visit recreation.gov or call 877-444-6777.