Posts Tagged ‘Yosemite National Park’


Mother’s Day Vacations

While a dozen roses, brunch and a nice scarf is a tried and true recipe for a successful Mother’s Day, why not spoil the woman who brought you into this world. A mother-daughter getaway is not only fun, but it can allow you and your mom to establish a deeper bond and create memories that will last for years to come.

In order to make the trip as enjoyable and stress-free as possible, here are some of our essential tips to planning the perfect Mother’s Day vacation:


All mothers deserve to be pampered on Mother's Day, regardless of species. Photo: Matt McGee

  • Decide as a unit what kind of trip you want. Are you looking simply to unwind or are you in the mood for more adventure? Based on this, you can both suggest ideas accordingly—i.e., a trip to a spa for those seeking relaxation or surf lessons for those craving activity.
  • Don’t let one person coordinate every detail of the trip. Rather, take turns and make compromises with the planning so that each person feels that her needs and interests are being represented.
  • Since money can be a major source of tension, determine who will be paying for what beforehand. Are you splitting everything 50-50, or will you be paying for the airfare and rooms, while she covers the meals and day-to-day activities?
  • Remember, it’s all about the quality, not the quantity. Before you book a two-week cruise, think about your past travel history. If you’re used to only spending the holidays together, opt for a beachside destination or a long three-day weekend.
  • Just because you’re committed to spending quality time with your mother or daughter, doesn’t mean you can’t embark on a group activity, such as whitewater rafting or a nature hike. In fact, the presence of strangers may prompt you to act on your best behavior and meet new families with similar interests.
  • Likewise, a mother-daughter getaway does not mean that you have to spend every single breathing second with one another. Both of you should bring along a good book or even set alone time so you can take an occasional break from one another. You’ll come back feeling reconnected and eager to continue where you left off.
  • Turn off your cell phones, iPods and what-have-you when spending time together. This only disrupts the mood and makes the other person feel as if they’re not being valued.

Here are some ideas for unique and memorable Mother’s Day vacations:


Treat your mom to a posh shopping vacation in Paris. Read our article on Paris shopping.
Plan your Mother’s Day vacation to Paris on TravelMuse.


Your mother has been working hard her entire life. Take her to Cabo for a spa vacation where she can really unwind. Read our article on Cabo spa vacations.
Plan your Mother’s Day vacation to Cabo on TravelMuse.

Grand Cayman

Ready for a little adventure? Take your mom to Grand Cayman to go scuba diving. Read our article on diving in Grand Cayman.
Plan your Mother’s Day vacation to Grand Cayman on TravelMuse.


If you and your mother are looking to build some teamwork skills this Mother’s Day, consider rafting down the Merced River in Yosemite National Park. Read our article on rafting in Yosemite.
Plan your Mother’s Day vacation to Yosemite National Park on TravelMuse.

Need additional ideas for your Mother’s Day vacation? Use our inspiration finder to give you more ideas.

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Hiking Half Dome–What You Need To Know

Hiking Half Dome inside Yosemite National Park is an incredible experience and an achievable goal for most hikers.  But at 18 miles round-trip and almost 5,000 feet of elevation gain, this is not the kind of hike you do last minute.  To complete it safely and successfully, one must be prepared.

In late September I had the good fortune of hiking Half Dome for the first time.  There were eight of us in the group.  Three had hiked Half Dome before; the other five had not. The decision to do the hike was made in July.  In the two months leading up to the big day, we shared notes, met twice to discuss packing plans and logistics, and most importantly, hiked almost every weekend.  Those training hikes were valuable for numerous reasons:  They helped us build stamina, enabled us to come together as a group, and made us aware of our individual and collective strengths and weaknesses.  Knowing your limitations is really important before tackling a hike like Half Dome.

Our hike began from the trailhead adjacent to Curry Village at 11:00 PM.  We decided to hike up at night to avoid the notorious crowds at the cables, which are a frequent occurrence on summer weekends.  It was a moonless night so, we each had a head lamp, which provided adequate lighting.  If you decide to do a nighttime ascent, it’s recommended that you pick an evening with a full moon.

On the way up we opted for the gentler grade of the Horse Trail that veers around Vernal Falls and intersects the John Muir trail above Nevada Falls.  This proved to be a good decision as it allowed us to preserve energy for the notorious steps at the subdome and the cables along the final push to the summit.  On the way down we took the Mist Trail which, while incredibly scenic, is extremely steep and jarring on your knees.

IMG_1776-web.JPG Heading up the the cables                        Kevin Fliess 2009

It took us about 7 hours to reach the summit and we arrived on top just prior to sunrise.  The views of Yosemite Valley are breathtaking and watching the sun come up over the Sierras is something I’ll treasure forever.

The Essentials – What to Wear

  • Quick drying synthetic layers including a shell.  “Cotton is rotton” when it comes to endurance activities.  Cotton can chafe, becomes super heavy when wet, and takes forever to dry.
  • Brimmed hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Hiking socks (wool is best)
  • Hiking boots – I wore low-rise, lightweight boots.  Break them in before you go – not on the trail.

What to Bring

  • At least 1 gallon of water per person.  Or, to save yourself some weight, carry a portable water filter.  The last water on the way up is at Nevada Falls.
  • Plenty of high-carb, salty snacks.  Trail mix, crackers, nuts, PB&J sandwiches, bananas, etc.  You want things you can eat while hiking.  Hike day is not the day for the Atkins Diet.
  • A first aid kit
  • A phone
  • Gloves for the cables
  • A camera
  • A headlamp if you are hiking at night
  • Optional but recommended: hiking poles


  • Do the hike on a weekday, if you can.
  • If you’re going to hike on a weekend, get up early.  Plan on starting no later than 5 a.m.  We were so grateful that we started early because we never felt rushed, and we beat the crowds to the top.  The stream of people coming up as we were going down was astonishing.
  • Know your turn around time.  Give yourself a preset deadline to head back down so you don’t get stuck hiking in the dark.
  • Don’t do this hike alone.
  • If there is any chance of rain or lightning as you approach the top, turn around.  There is no shelter on the summit.  And as the numerous warning signs will remind you, lightning has struck the top of Half Dome every month of the year.
  • If you’re hiking with a group, carry walkie-talkies.  If the group splits up it’ s great way to keep in touch on the trail.
  • If you suffer from a serious fear of heights, think twice before tackling the cables.
  • Train well in advance.

For more information on hiking Half Dome, check out these resources.


The author on “the visor”                                                       Kevin Fliess 2009

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