Day 1- drove from San Diego to Big Sur
Day 2- explored Big Sur, with hikes at Point Lobos State Park, Garappata State Park, and Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. We also revisited Pfeiffer Beach.
Day 3 - sightseeing drive from Big Sur to San Mateo via coastal highway, with stops at Moss Landing and Santa Cruz. We did very little hiking and sightseeing this day because of very heavy rain.
Day 4- From San Francisco International Airport, we drove to Yosemite National Park and explored some parts of the Valley.
Now, moving to Days 5- 9.
Day 5: Explored some parts of Yosemite Valley, then, hiked to Vernal and Nevada Falls.
Vernal and Nevada Fall is considered to be the signature hike in Yosemite National Park. The Park ranger said that if we only have time for one hike, then, Vernal and Nevada Fall must it be, especially that these two waterfalls can't be seen at all from the Valley Floor. I've done this hike before, but it was summer 2008. The trail climbs 2000 ft in 3.5 miles. I believe the early summer hike was a lot better than our hike this year, which was in between periods of snow. I was counting how many times I was hit by a snowball that were falling from trees. But it is not the rough, icy and slippery conditions that made me think the summer hike to Vernal and Nevada Falls was a lot better, it was the closure of Mist Trail. The mist from waterfalls that still turns to snow because of freezing temperatures makes the Mist trail not safe this time of the year. I was a bit disappointed not to see the beauty of Vernal Fall face to face, but only from the footbridge.
A few days before our trip, the weather forecast does not look nice in Yosemite, however, when I called for a change of date, I could not change dates without paying for 2 nights lodging, because of 7-days cancellation policy in Yosemite. We did not want to pay for something without us enjoying it, thus, we just came prepared. We brought with us tire chains ( required in California for mountainous icy driving ), ice trekkers for icy hiking and hiking poles. The ice trekkers and hiking poles really helped us a lot since the trails past Vernal Fall footbridge started to become snow covered, some parts very icy, and getting icier to the top.