When and How to prepare for a Winter Camping in Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is a very popular and oldest nature preserves in California US. It is often visited by visitors through out the year. It is located in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains and around 5 hours drive from Los Angeles. It can easily be a weekend gate away for people living in LA and near by areas. The park is very famous for its waterfalls, spectacular views, easy/moderate/difficult trails, the granite cliffs. Each season offers a number of things-to-do at the park.

We (myself and my husband) have been to Yosemite both in summer and winter and here I am sharing the camping experience we had in the winter of 2017.

So if you are an outdoorsy person then you might already experienced camping. For me camping with friends is super fun and thrilling. Note here for any camping you need to plan a little bit if you are going on your own and the check lists are also different for a summer camping Vs winter camping.

Coming to when to plan a camping trip in Yosemite, depends on your interest or the particular outdoor activities you are aiming for. For us, choosing the third week of February was mainly for following reasons :-

  • Catching a glimpse of the famous natural phenomenon over the Horsetail Fall on the east side of El Capitan in Yosemite, popularly known as “Firefall”. If the fall is flowing in February ( The fall does not flow through out the year) and the weather condition is just right, then the setting sun illuminates the waterfall in bright orange and red color making it a spectacular view.
Firefall aka Horsetail Fall during sunset

This short video shows the excitement. There are a lot of people standing with big cameras to capture fire fall. This short video is shot on cell phone.

  • To get an experience of camping in sub-zero temperature.

Our Tent
  • Camp sites are easily available during winter.
  • Trails are less crowded in the winter season.
Ready for our Hike
Hiking towards the Vernal Falls trail
Returning back from Vernal Falls
  • To get a different view of Yosemite with snowy mountains and freezing water falls.
The famous Tunnel View during sunset
Me and My husband at Tunnel View Point
  • Chances of seeing the beautiful reflections of the Yosemite cliffs in the Mirror lake and in the Merced river.
Reflections at Mirror Lake
Me 🙂
Merced River

Coming to how to plan it, the first thing to do is book the camp site weeks or even months before your trip. Campsites in Yosemite are very busy and gets booked quickly. The booking can be done online at link :- https://www.recreation.gov/

Yosemite can get really cold in winters and temperature goes negative during night hours. So staying warm is the most important thing.

Here are some top camping essentials you must carry for overnight camping :-

  • A Tarp that can be put beneath your tent
  • Tent
  • Lanterns with backup batteries as you may have to set up tent in the evening.
  • Head Lamps to keep handy for day or evening hikes.
  • Insulation Pads
  • A good quality subzero sleeping bag as temp goes negative during the night.
  • Warm cloths & shoes such as hoodies, light jackets, hiking socks, shoes. Try to layer your cloths instead of wearing heavy jackets. Always carry extra set of cloths and socks.
  • Lighters and match box to start fire.
  • Wood coal and fuel to make fire ( either you can bring with you or can be bought from the store before evening. you need to check the store hours from before). Fire at Yosemite camp grounds is allowed in winters.
  • Icebox if you are bringing any cooked or perishable food items.
  • Small stove for cooking and cooking essentials such as uncooked food material, utensils, cooking oil, spices, knives, scissors, bottle openers etc. Although most of camp grounds has fire place and most of times they can be used to cook/bbq as well, however bringing own stove helps.
  • Eating bowls, glasses, spoons, forks and snacks for day hikes. trail mix, dates, chips, chocolates are some great options.
  • Yosemite trails map if you want to hike around and a compass for direction as Phone might not work at some places.
  • Always carry plenty of water and some extra water.
  • A day backpack with water bag in case you want to hike long duration during the day.
  • Toiletries such as tooth paste, brush, dry shampoo, makeup stuff, disinfectant wipes,  face or multipurpose wipes.

P.S : Photo Courtesy :- My best friend/husband Suman Ghosh(Instagram – @artbyabong)and in some cases myself and my very good friends. I have obtained their approval for sharing it here.

A short video by my very dear friend to sum up the trip! Hope you enjoy and plan for a winter camping soon !!

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Top 6 ways to keep you sane during Pregnancy

If you are a woman you must have an idea what it is like being Pregnant! The symptoms, feelings, emotions and the experiences a woman live through those 9 months are countless. Sometimes you love them and sometimes ( could be most of times) you don’t. Sometimes you are calm and sometimes you are irritated to the core.

Now coming to my story, I guessed that I could be pregnant the day I hiked the “Angels Landing” in Zion National Park in Utah USA. I was more tired than expected and was constipated that morning as well. It came to my mind for a few times during the hike and I was ruling it out by thinking the hike is really strenuous and I could be constipated just like that. But, my guess was right. And two days later I found out those obvious two lines on the mini screen of the home test. And then begin my journey!

I had little on and off symptoms but nothing challenging. I had Type 2 Diabetes and was on medication so my biggest hurdle was to keep my weight under control and not stress out on my high sugar levels.

So I made a routine of things I should do apart from regularly seeing my OB-GYN and knowing my baby’s well-being inside my womb.

  • Plan to take short trips to nature and friends – I sat down with my husband and planned the weekend or long weekend trips up to 7 months. We have hiked and travelled several places through out my pregnancy which kept my spirits up always.
A quiet moment in Taft Point in Yosemite
A pic in the Hoh rain forest in Olympic wilderness, Washington US
A pic with my best friend during a trip to San Francisco, US
  • Walk – I told myself that I will take a walk outside or gym no matter what. Or at least 3 to 4 days a week after work. And by religiously following it I was able to control my blood sugar levels.
A moment captured after a short hike
  • Practice Yoga and meditation – I did Anulom-Vilom for at least 10 minutes every evening followed by a 5 7 min dhyana or meditation. The breathing exercise Anulom-Vilom is really helpful in fighting depression, anxiety and stress and you really have to do it right to feel its awesomeness.
  • Dance to my favorite songs – It may sound silly but it’s really a stress buster. I would play some of my favorite songs and dance like no one watching. Either you dance with your partner on a romantic song or do some random moves, you will surely feel good after.
  • Watch sunsets – Have you ever wondered how beautiful and colorful a sunset could be if we are not too busy to notice it. Well, for me it calms me down.
A beautiful sunset at White Point Beach
A beautiful sunset at Hesse Park
  • Eat well and healthy – Easier said than done. This was the most challenging thing to follow as per my experience but I managed to watch my diet and replace some bad food habits with good food habits such as baked fish instead of fry fish, fruits instead of cookies / biscuits, healthy trail Mix as snacks instead of potato chips.

Having said that I religiously followed them. Yes there were some exceptions and some really low moments but at the end I survived the 9 months like a boss!!

Few photos from my maternity shoot during my third trimester!

Us
A picture with the Ocean in background

So ladies, if you are pregnant and feeling low you could give above points a try and I am sure you will feel fantastic.

The most magical day of my life!

Expect the unexpected is what I had read almost everywhere about labor experience and the exact thing happened to me!

Throughout my pregnancy I ate well, I was active almost walking 4, 5 miles a day followed by half an hour meditation. I was all throughout with mild gestational diabetes. I always thought of having a normal delivery.

Towards the end, my Doc told not to wait until due date ( Dec 30, 2017) and I was scheduled to be induced on Dec 27th evening as I was not dilated enough.

Things were getting restless towards the end and I was keeping calm as much as I could.

Dec 24th evening myself, my mom ( who was there to help me out), and husband decided to see the Christmas lights in the neighborhood. It was a several miles walk that evening as I knew I might have to miss my long walks immediately after my baby is born.

Dec 25th, on the day of Christmas morning my water broke and I was admitted to hospital. I was excited to have a Christmas baby. I was induced to have labor pain but things took longer than expected! My dilation remained only 3 or 4 cm throughout the Christmas day and overnight. The next morning when my OB checked, I was at 9 cm and finally we were happy that i can still make it with normal. My husband and nurses kept encouraging. I was at same state even after 3 4 hours from the time I was 9 cm dilated. Baby’s oxygen level kept fluctuating and finally my OB decided for the C-section at around 2 PM on Dec 26th. I was drained and frustrated. But just to cheer me up, I put makeup before going to the OT.

Something interesting happened in the OT as I later came to know from my husband. I don’t remember any of it now but I was very stubborn to sit and see the surgery. A pic in OT

But that didn’t happen and at 02:52 PM on Dec 26, Agniv came into this beautiful world. I was numb and couldn’t feel much when they placed the baby on my chest. When I was transferred to Labor and Delivery I was shivering and the nurse put the baby again on my chest, I felt like magic. Within few minutes all my shivering was gone and I realized that I successfully delivered this baby. There are no words to describe the feeling. A million emotions were rushing through the mind. Pic shows the magical first moment with my son Agniv.

Although there some unexpected complications post surgery ( My oxygen saturation was low on the night of surgery) but I was fine after a few days.

My husband in OT with Agniv

Agniv Ghosh was born in Torrance, California on Dec 26, 2017 and that day was the most magical day in my life.

What it is like Back Packing Havasupai in AZ,USA !!

When I think of this place “Havasupai” only one thing come to mind always, oh you beauty, when will I hike you next ?

During our 6 years stay in Los Angeles, me and my husband bumped in to group friends who were hiking the Havasupai and they have been doing every year. Wow. Really? Is it worth to go to same place every year? Just out of curiosity I tried to search some details why this tiny village is one of the most visited places in the U.S. well, just by seeing pictures of it I was awestruck.

Supai Village is a tribal village located within the Havasu Canyon, Arizona, USA. The name “havasu” means people of blue-green water.This small village is famous for its spectacular waterfalls originated from Havasu creek and their peculiar blue-green color and travertine formations.  And yes, “That blue/green color is for real.”

Even in today’s world there exist a tribe who likes to live in their own little world without much interaction with outside world and they are known as American Indian tribe, who have lived in the Grand Canyon for at least the past 800 years or so. Havasupai is their property.  

The beauty of this place is that it is not accessible via road. You have to get there by foot or helicopter.  To visit this place, you have to secure permit for your group at-least 6 months in advance. They get booked even a year advance and very busy during summer. I had called them and luckily we got a campsite for two persons for three nights four days.

Then begin our epic backpacking trip preparation. When backpacking the only shop comes to mind is of course REI. After little bit of research we arranged our, tent, backpacks, food and snacks to carry and other necessary items.  The website https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/havasupai.htm gives a pretty good idea for planning.

Day 1, we started driving to Hualapai Hilltop around 04:00 AM from Kingman and started hiking with our backpacks, towards the Supai village around 08:30 AM. Note here, if you are travelling from other places, it is always recommended to reach Kingman or any nearest city the day before. And for those, who would like to hike without your backpacks, you can always book mules in advance. Because that was our first ever backpacking trip, and we were carrying around 30 lbs backpack each, we took a little bit more than usual time to reach the Supai village around 02:00 PM. We checked in with the office and got our camping and personal tags. Had little lunch in the Supai cafe and then begin our second phase hiking of around 2 miles towards the campgrounds.

Picture 1 After successfully descending in to the canyon

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Picture 2 Supai Village

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At one point me and my husband were so exhausted by walking that we threw our backpacks in the middle of the roads and wished to spend the rest of the day in middle of nowhere.  We kept walking walking.. and voila! a spectacular blue/green waterfall could be seen on our way. That’s the beautiful Havasu Falls. Well, now my complain about two big blisters from my shoes are gone. We immediately paused to enjoy the view and take pictures.

Picture 3 Havasu Falls

After reaching our spot, we set up our camp. Our sweet little home for 3 days was ready. Filled our water bags from the natural spring; you can trust the sanity of this water. We used our jet boil to prepare Maggi Noodles before sun sets and by 7 PM went straight to sleep.

Day 2 We begin hiking the Mooney and Beaver falls after packing our small back packs with energy bars, fruits, biscuits and enough water for two.  Descending the Mooney falls through the Canyon caves was a thrilling experience. You have to descend the Mooney falls to hike towards Beaver falls and finally to Colarado river.  

Picture 4 Descending/Ascending at Mooney Falls

Picture 5 Mooney Falls

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After hiking around 2 hours and crossing the Havasu creek several times we finally made it to Beaver falls. It was so beautiful and there were many natural pools to chill out and make a food break.

Picture 6 River Crossing

Picture 7 Havasu creek on the way to Beaver

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Picture 8 Crossing the Vine desert on way to Beaver

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Picture 9 Havasu Creek1E1A2185 

Picture 10 Beaver Falls

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Picture 11 Mooney Falls

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After taking a lot of pictures we bid adieu to Beaver and hike back to Mooney. We climbed Mooney falls again to come to camp sites. Exhausted by the day trip, we cooked our dehydrated chicken rice for dinner and enjoyed the sun set in the canyon.

Day 3, we begin hiking towards the Havasu falls that we crossed on Day 1. After spending some time at the Havasu falls, we hiked towards the Little Novajo and Big Novajo falls taking a lot of pictures of falls and Havasu creek.

Picture 12 Havasu Falls

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Picture 13 Havasu Falls

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Picture 14 Havasu Creek

Picture 15 Little Novajo Falls

Picture 16 Big Novajo Falls

Day 4, we woke up, packed our tent and other stuffs, and start hiking towards the Supai village. We waited in a long queue to book Helicopter ride to come back to Hualapai Hilltop where we parked our car on Day 1. We then drove to our real home in Los Angeles thinking of when we would come next!!

Picture 17 Supai Village

Picture 18 Our ride back to Hualapai Hilltop