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Yosemite National Park + Mammoth Lakes, CA

TravelWhitney Carlson2 Comments
Climbing Half Dome in Yosemite National Park | He and She Eat Clean

Trip Date: September 2014

I know that this post is late but since we have been incorporating more personal stories and posting about our travel/hikes, I've been going back to get our trips organized and posted. These are really important for us to share because as we've mentioned many times before, we do not live in the gym. We don't diet and exercise to look a certain way. This is a lifestyle for us because it allows us to do the activities we love.

Many people ask what we do to prepare for our hiking trips. Honestly, we don't do anything different from our normal workout routine. We workout similar to the way the She Sweats 12-Week Transformation is structured with weight training and cardio. Closer to the trip, we may steer more towards the She Sweats 12-Week Run Builder, trading in some of the running for incline walking/sprints but we don't spend hours a day working out (unless we are hiking). It's just not necessary or healthy for most people.

We will be sharing A LOT more of our traveling tips. We have posts planned on every single thing we do to save money before the trip and during the trip. We will share how/where we book our lodging, flights, and how we handle meals while traveling. Traveling does not have to be as expensive as you may think. Sign up for our newsletter so you never miss a post!

Related: A possible move to live INSIDE Yosemite National Park!

I can’t even express how much these trips mean to us. It’s a time to get away, disconnect (for the most part), and just enjoy and live life. This trip wasn’t quite as “disconnected” as our trip to Montana last year because we did have Wi-Fi at the condo (but not in the park) but we still didn’t check our social media a million times a day. We posted what we wanted to and then logged out.

These trips take a lot of researching and planning months in advance (all of which Scott does). One of the books we utilized was Yosemite - The Complete Guide by James Kaiser. We obviously have no control over the weather once we get there but with being gone for two weeks we always tell ourselves we will have at least some good days! We really lucked out our entire trip this year and we are so thankful!

Related: How to Save Money + Eat Healthy While Traveling

Yosemite National Park

This trip to Yosemite National Park was the first part of our two week hiking trip which also included climbing Mount Whitney. We flew from Atlanta to Reno on Sunday (August 31, 2014) and spent the first 8 nights at a condo in Mammoth Mountain. We drove into Yosemite National Park almost every day from there, which was a 45 minute drive (each way). We hiked over 120 miles and most were day hikes except for Half Dome and Mount Whitney. In order to save money we always go grocery shopping once we get to our destination. We were lucky to have a great grocery store in Mammoth and many great restaurants as well (our recommendations are at the end of this post).

As a disclaimer, these trips (especially climbing Half Dome and Mount Whitney) are not to be taken lightly, care is needed to make sure that you stay safe as well as those around you. We will be sharing more information on this topic. Always leave no trace - be part of the solution, not the problem.


  • Mount Hoffman (6.46 miles, 1,578 calories)
  • Cathedral Lakes (7.8 miles, 1,230 calories)

Our first hike in the park was Mount Hoffman. It was beautiful but there is no official trail so it was hard to stay on track at some points. It was definitely worth the effort though! After Mount Hoffman we still had time so we did Cathedral Lakes. Cathedral Lakes was not one of my favorites hikes but it was good to get our legs warmed up for the rest of the trip!

"Go straight to Mt Hoffman ... From the summit nearly all the Yosemite park is displayed like a map." -John Muir

Hiking in Yosemite National Park | He and She Eat Clean

We grilled out after we got back from hiking and had leftovers for the next day as well. We will go into this more in our saving money while traveling post but we almost always eat breakfast where we are staying in order to save money. Below is what we had almost every morning which included scrambled eggs, oats with fruit and avocado. You must fuel your body in order to be able to perform!



Clouds Rest - it was just as amazing as it sounds. It was a moderately strenuous hike stretching to 14 miles and had sweeping views of the park from the top. As we were descending from the top of Clouds Rest we passed a group where a few of the hikers were freaking out about the steep descents on each side. I honestly don't even remember it being scary but I can definitely say that making it all the way to the top is worth the effort!

As if Clouds Rest wasn't enough, we did Gaylor Lakes on the way out of the park. We thought it would just be an easier hike to cross off the list but it was actually rather difficult!

Hiking Clouds Rest in Yosemite National Park | He and She Eat CleanR
Hiking Clouds Rest in Yosemite National Park | He and She Eat Clean
Hiking Clouds Rest in Yosemite National Park | He and She Eat Clean


  • Mammoth Lakes, CA: Crystal Lake (3.2 miles)
  • Panorama Dome (0.8 miles)

We "tried" to take it easy since we had a huge hike the next day (an overnight trip to climb Half Dome) but we ended up hiking/trail running anyway. We just had to get out an explore more. Mammoth is AMAZING! We did a trail run at Crystal Lake and finished up with a short hike at Panorama Dome.

I was looking for a hat and while we were exploring Mammoth, I happened to find a Prana hat on the top shelf (it was really more like in the rafters of this store). You will see it in many of the following pictures but I have never received so many compliments on a hat before in my life! I could never find the hat again until we went to Colorado last year so I bought it in pink. I discovered when we got home that now someone is selling them on Amazon so I got the blue one as a Christmas gift! You can find them here if you are interested.

Hiking Crystal Lake + Panorama Dome in California | He and She Eat Clean

Scott was obsessed with the Minarets (pictured in the center of the picture below)!

Mammoth Minarets | He and She Eat Clean


  • Four Mile to Panorama (14.5 miles, 4,500 calories)

The pictures below were before the terror of the Four Mile to Panorama trek. We decided to do the Four Mile Trail (which isn't 4 miles long - it's 4.7 miles) and connect to the Panorama Trail (which is 8.5 miles). THIS WAS BRUTAL. Below is how Yosemite Hikes described the route we took:

Kick-Ass Alternate Route:  If you're in excellent shape and don't want to be bothered with catching buses, try hiking the 4-Mile Trail up from the valley to Glacier Point and then the Panorama Trail back down again.

Scott was carrying the heavy pack we had with our tent and most of our food. We only brought one large pack and I had my smaller pack stuffed full. This 4-Mile Trail was STRAIGHT UP. Once we made it to the top we were able to stop for a few minutes at Glacier Point before moving on. We honestly didn't spend much time there though because it's basically a tourist trap.

Hiking Half Dome in Yosemite National Park | He and She Eat Clean
Hiking Half Dome in Yosemite National Park | He and She Eat Clean
Hiking Half Dome in Yosemite National Park | He and She Eat Clean
Hiking in Yosemite National Park | He and She Eat Clean

We continued our long trek on the seemingly never-ending Panorama Trail before finally making it to our campsite at Little Yosemite Valley. After unpacking and eating a quick dinner we went to bed because we were going to start our trek to Half Dome around 4 AM.

Camping in Yosemite National Park | He and She Eat Clean


  • Campsite to Half Dome & back down to Happy Isles via the John Muir Trail (13.5 miles)

If you haven't noticed yet, we like to beat the crowds! Even though you DO have to have a permit to climb Half Dome (yes, there were rangers checking at the base), a line still forms and we did not want to have to wait in line to climb. We woke up at 4 AM to start the 3.5 mile one way trek. A 4 AM wake up call to climb Half Dome calls for an Awake Energy Shot. Hiking with headlamps is always fun too! ;-)

Hiking Half Dome in Yosemite National Park | He and She Eat Clean

We made it to the base of Half Dome rather quickly, especially considering the hike we just did the night before. I'll be completely honest again, Scott plans these trips and I normally just nod my head, like yep that sounds good - let's do it! I don't go back and research or even really look at much about the hikes. Now, I'm standing at the base of this huge rock that we are supposed to be climbing up. IT WAS SO SCARY. I almost backed out about 10 times. I was terrified but told myself that many other people had done it so I definitely could as well.

This is what I wrote on Instagram when I posted about it: "What an experience...that I will never do again. I was SO SCARED. I was still shaking 10 min after climbing back down!"

So, you have to climb up these cables that are SHAKY and they have boards across some of the poles to help you step but some of them don't have them and some of them are broken and some of the poles even come out of the granite. Not to mention, everyone behind you is waiting and basically all climbing up at the same time (another reason we woke up super early). I was scared to death. To death. I made it up but all I could think about was going back down. Once we got to the top, I asked Scott how much it would cost to hire a helicopter to come and pick me up off the top. The next day we learned that they actually did have to rescue climbers off the top because of wildfires!

Hiking Half Dome in Yosemite National Park | He and She Eat Clean
Hiking Half Dome in Yosemite National Park | He and She Eat Clean

After goofing off at the top for a few minutes (and doing backbends) we decided to start back down before the cables got really busy. There's only one set of cables so people are going up and down at the same time. You can see from the picture above that the cables are about two feet apart so many times you are stopping and waiting for someone or having to move out of the way - which was the scariest thing to me.

Random Memory: When we were going down a few people stopped to let us cross over a broken board and the lady said to me "Look at those biceps, you have awesome arms!". Take the time to compliment someone - for a split second it took my mind off of my fears and I still remember it to this day.

Hiking Half Dome in Yosemite National Park | He and She Eat Clean

Obviously we made it back down and all is well but it was a very scary experience and I am not even scared of heights! Although I said I would never do it again, I definitely would!

Tips: Take gloves and wear the right kind of shoes. You will need shoes that will grip the surface well.

After making it off Half Dome, we hiked back down to our campsite to finish packing up and hit the John Muir Trail back down to our car. On the way down to our campsite Scott could not find his phone anywhere. We were about halfway down and he was about to turn around and have to hike back up to find it, butttt I had it in my pocket. ;-) Our brains turn to mush after awhile!


  • Devils Postpile National Monument (1.5 miles)
  • Mono Pass (9.2 miles)
  • Lembert Dome (2 miles)

Call us crazy but our plan for Saturday was to hike Mount Dana in order to "prep" for Mount Whitney. We always, always, always wake up super early (like 5 AM) to get into the parks before the crowds and this day we actually slept in until around 7 AM because of the crazy day we had before. Wouldn't you know that the one day we "sleep in" there's a road bike race on the main highway going to the park. We didn't know anything about it and didn't want to sit in traffic only moving about 15 MPH so we had to change our plans.

We went to Devils Postpile National Monument until the roads were clear. When we finally made it into the park we did Mono Pass and climbed Lembert Done to watch the sunset.

"The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness." -John Muir

Devils Postpile National Monument | He and She Eat Clean
Hiking in Yosemite National Park | He and She Eat Clean


  • Shadow Lake (7.4 miles)

We didn't want to drive all the way into the park on Sunday since we had a long drive the next day to climb Mount Whitney so we tried to find local Mammoth hikes and I came across Shadow Lake in a magazine that was left at the condo. It looked pretty good so we just went with it. We were amazed. It turned out to be one of our favorite hikes and it wasn't even "planned". The entire hike was beautiful and once we reached the top our breath was taken away at the secluded lake. We took a break at the top in our hammocks (we have eno hammocks) and just relaxed a bit. Next time we are in Mammoth we are definitely hiking this one again and exploring the area more! 

"I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in." -John Muir

Hiking Shadow Lake in Mammoth, CA | He and She Eat Clean
Hiking Shadow Lake in Mammoth, CA | He and She Eat Clean
Hiking Shadow Lake in Mammoth, CA | He and She Eat Clean


On Monday morning (September 8th) we drove to Lone Pine to hike Mount Whitney - the highest mountain in the lower 48!

Restaurants we ate at in Mammoth:

Below was one of the meals we had at Roberto's, plus chips and salsa! Hiking makes you hungry!

Mammoth, CA | He and She Eat Clean

We've created a few new boards on Pinterest for our hiking pictures so be sure to follow us on Pinterest so you never miss a post! You can find us on the social media networks below plus snapchat under hesheeatclean.

Have you ever visited Yosemite National Park? Did you climb Half Dome while you were there?

- Whitney