That night we landed in Grand Teton National Park. We finished our evening off at The Mural Room at the Jackson Lake Lodge. I got the Wild Alaskan Salmon and array of vegetables. The food was delicious, but the view was even better. In the morning (after a yummy breakfast at the same place) we took a hike to Inspiration Point to get a gorgeous view of Lake Jenny.
After making a loop of Yellowstone and hitting all the top attractions (one could still spend months there away from tourist attractions) we headed to Idaho. This vacation was particularly exciting for me because I visited 3 new states (Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho)! It was close to the evening when we got there, but we made a stop at a small national park called Craters of the Moon. I felt like I was on Mars, especially since it the park was empty. Completely empty. We scaled a small hill that was full of black volcanic pebbles. The wind became so strong by the top that I could literally lean backwards and the wind would support my body. By the time I got to the van a storm came over the park and the weather changed instantly. It went from sunny to a mixture of hail and thick raindrops.
That night we ate dinner at a great restaurant called Jaker's. It had a gluten-free menu! If you ever happen to be in Idaho for whatever reason, see if they have a location near you. There service is slow, but the food is definitely worth the wait. The next morning we checked out the local attraction of Twin Falls, including the waterfall there (we saw a ton of waterfalls on this trip) and the 2 golf courses in the canyon. Though we didn't golf, we did meet some BASE jumpers that were getting ready to jump off the bridge and into the canyon. It was the most amazing and frightening experience I have ever watched.
The next day we checked out all the local attractions of Mammoth. We went to the top of the mountain (brr, it was windy and cold!) and then did a hike to see Devil's Postpile and Rainbow Falls. It was a gorgeous area and once again I was reminded of the omnipresent beauty in California.
The next day we packed up and headed to our last destination: Yosemite National Park (it was my favorite destination). As I observed the map I saw the Pacific Crest Trail intersect through Yosemite. It reminded of the Cheryl Stray's book Wild and how she scaled the trail alone. I definitely want to go back to Yosemite to hike all of half dome, but also check out the PCT. Yosemite is such a neat place. We hiked halfway up to half dome and it was a breathtaking hike (strenuous, but also beautiful). There were lots of tourists at first, but they tapered off as the trail got steeper and more windy. We stopped at the trail at a place called Emerald Pool. We got to see yet another waterfall with a rainbow and bask in the sun for a bit. I set my phone down in between taking pictures and somehow it slipped off the rock I was sitting on and into the river. Thankfully my brothers came to the rescue and revived my iPhone (the thing is extremely resilient)!
And alas the end of my nature trip brings us to the real reason behind its location: dropping me off at my summer program at Stanford! But I am going to save that reflection for tomorrow because this post has been vast and literally covered a lot of territory. Until tomorrow where I reveal my first college-like (I guess?) experience.