How Yosemite stole my heart

How Yosemite stole my heart

This is a story about high peaks, bruises, Californian sun, friendship, a good plan B and a girl swinging and screaming high above trees.

This is about how Yosemite National Park managed to steal my heart. Yosemite, I adore you and your pretty mountains. You’re so majestic and yet humble. I love how the sun sets on your glorious peaks, how you make me sweat hiking up, how the soft evening light makes life look like a fairytale, how kind and warm the working crew is and most of all your grandiose views.

Yosemite girl

I kind of stumbled on a great friend group in Yosemite by accident. I was travelling solo in California and met up with some Couchsurfers for a road trip to Yosemite. On the same day we were leaving I thought: hey, maybe it’s also possible to couchsurf IN Yosemite National Park. I still remember that day. It was a Friday, I was couchsurfing in San Francisco, opened my computer and sent out some requests. I figured my chances were pretty low, as I was asking for a place to stay for 3 people for THAT night. But my motto is: a ‘no’ you have, a ‘yes’ you can get (this sounds way better in Dutch…).

I only sent out 2 emails, because there just aren’t many CS-hosts in Yosemite and one of them was TJ. He was the one crazy and awesome enough to reply: “yep, no worries, you can stay at our place”. My heart jumped, I never expected to get a yes!

Yosemite friends
Great people. Great time.
Yosemite view
Mysterious Yosemite
fall yosemite
Love the warm colours!

This place is special to me because it was my first time travelling solo. I had travelled quite a bit before, but this was always with family and friends. For my first solo travel I decided to go 3,5 weeks to California. Guided by the soundtrack of The O.C. I wanted to chase the sun. I didn’t meet Ryan or Seth, but I did spend half of my trip in Yosemite. I met amazing people, who I still call friends after all those years.

I had such a good time and felt I wasn’t finished with California yet. So I booked another ticket and 7 Months later I was back. Ready for some Summer fun.

lookout Yosemite
The best spots are up high!
sunbathing yosemite
Catching some sun with Jamie

Meeting the lovely Yosemite crew didn’t only make my days so much more fun, it also opened doors to the National Park I otherwise wouldn’t have acces to.

One night they took me to a bluegrass concert in some kind of bar only for Yosemite crew. There I was, dancing in my hiking boots, with a dumb smile on my face. Such a simple evening and I couldn’t have been happier.

Yosemite slide
Rock water slide – a lot of fun and bruises

I also discovered the Hidden Pools, I spent the night in a cave, went climbing and the most exciting activity: THE YOSEMITE SWING. Doesn’t sound too special? Believe me – it is crazy. It is a swing up on El Capitan’s base. You attach yourself to the rope and swing meters high over trees.

Yosemite Park Rangers aren’t very happy with this and often take the rope down, but luck was on my side. When I visited Yosemite the second time that year some climbers had just installed the swing again! Game time! And that’s how wimpy me flew high. Forgive my screaming 🙂


Holidays are often made by the people you meet. That’s why I love the US and especially Yosemite. I was the lucky girl who got to meet a bunch of cool people who live in one of the most beautiful National Parks in the US. Some of them had been living there almost 3 years, others just arrived, but they all lost their heart to nature and didn’t want to leave. It’s a different and special community and I’m grateful that I got to be a part of that for a couple weeks – and I can’t wait to go back.

Yosemite friends
Not a bad view, right?

Yosemite and the US gave me that extra push to quit my job three years ago. I noticed how much I loved travelling by myself. You put yourself out there (you don’t really have a choice) and when you’re that vulnerable you meet such great people. I wanted more of that.

My original plan was to travel, live and work in Yosemite. After looking into all the US-paperwork and visa stuff I lost hope.  The US really doesn’t make it easy (or let’s be honest: impossible) for foreigners to work over there.

Time for plan B. I googled which countries were easy to get a Work Travel visa, and that was Australia and New Zealand. And here I am. I now find myself living, working and playing in nature in New Zealand. That plan B turned out really good, don’t you think so?

7 thoughts on “How Yosemite stole my heart

    1. Thanks Katie! Every time I look at photos or videos of Yosemite I also immediately want to jump on the plane to go back. But I’m not done yet with New Zealand 🙂

    1. Hey Miriam, thanks so much! If you haven’t been there, definitely give it a visit. Maybe it will steal your heart too!

    2. Yosemite will always have a place in my heart. My dad worked in Yosemite for a number of years, and my mom said I was conceived at Glacier Point 😆 It is a very unique place with all that granite towering over the valley floor. Your pictures are spectacular. And the swing…wild and crazy!
      I’m enjoying looking/reading about your travels. You’ve gone to places I love (like the Canadian Rockies. Love Emerald Lake especially, some of my best memories are staying there) and places I hope to go some day (New Zealand in particular) if this COVID thing ever gets over with 😉
      If you ever get back to the US, be sure to visit the Pacific Northwest. We moved from Southern California to Oregon some years ago and never regretted it.

      1. What a lovely story Valerie! I’m glad to hear Yosemite is special to many people. I’m sure your parents have many fun and naughty 😉 memories from their time in Yosemite. Have you been able to also spend some time in Yosemite? I have never been to the Pacific Northwest, but I’ve heard good things about it! I’d love to visit one day! But first yeah Covid.. For now I hope you’re having fun enjoying your home and nature around you 🙂

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