Packing List: Weekend in Yosemite Valley

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We love Yosemite this time of year. Every other year or so, we try to spend at least one weekend in the valley after the summer crowds have thinned. We keep saying we’re going to explore more of the park (it spans over 1100 miles)—getting into the high Sierra—or make plans to see it in the winter, when it’s blanketed in white; but it’s hard to resist the siren song of the valley floor. I actually love that it’s becoming a bit familiar: I’m much more content to slow down and explore at the kids’ pace. And, having stayed there before, I felt confident driving in late at night to stay in the tent cabins in Curry Village.

The temperatures were starting to dip while we were there—mornings were just cold enough to see your breath—so I was happy we brought layers. They’re actually getting some snow now! It’s a magical place to spend family time outdoors.

L.L. Bean had sent us some winter gear to try, and the trip turned out to be great practice for the cold-weather trips we have coming up in the next few months (we’re just going to be adding in a snowball making kit).

Here are a few favorite pictures and some thoughts on packing for an easy-going weekend in Yosemite…

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We knew we wouldn’t be doing any serious climbing (or camping, for that matter), so we went with jeans for everyone. Hudson has a knack for wearing out the knees in anything softer before you’ve even cut the tags.

In the mornings, we’d layer on warm hats and jackets—lightweight down that would easily pack away on our walk. Mine is this ultralight down sweater.

I’ve been wearing it around town since we got back and love the fitted look (I sized down), but it still has plenty of pockets. I plan to just layer it under a shell when we’re in the snow.

Sidenote: I actually wrote about this one a while back as a great option for taking on cold airplanes. It’s weighs next to nothing (10 ounces) and packs into itself—one of the pockets—so it’s perfect for people like me who are always freezing when they fly.

Warm Sweaters

Skyler wore hand-me downs from Hudson, which made me very nostalgic; and I packed a new cozy fisherman’s sweater for him. (I realize ivory cable-knit doesn’t seem a natural choice for an outdoorsy adventure, but these sweaters are really easy to wash—and they dry so fast. An all-time favorite. No doubt Skyler will be in it next time.)

LL Bean

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We brought along a baby carrier and this compact stroller. We didn’t expect to bring the latter out—it’s not much use on most trails—but it turned out to be handy in the afternoon when we decided to meander the very accessible valley loop.

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Here are some more details from our packing list…

  1. Navy watch cap, for Aron.
  2. Flashlights, headlamp, and a pocket knife/wine key. I can’t overstate how nice a headlamp when you’re camping—or even setting up camp in a tent cabin.
  3. Knit pom hat for me. This one was a gift. (Similar.)
  4. Men’s down sweater vest . Aron always needs less to stay warm than I, so something on his core is usually ample. He’s actually been raving about how this one seems to repel dirty and sticky-little-finger marks.
  5. Hunter’s Plaid Shirt. Comes in tall, slim fit.
  6. Backpack. This one has a loop for your ice axe. We used it for a snack cup.
  7. Sunglasses.
  8. Lightweight flannel shirt in plaid. Super-soft.
  9. Women’s ultralight down sweater.
  10. Cashmere crewneck. This is one of those luxury fabrics that really does last and keeps you warmer per ounce.
  11. Kids’ hats. I like the ones that tie below the chin for babies.
  12. Ranger Mocs.
  13. Chukka boots. I always look at the men’s or kids’ sizes. (Here are more favorite styles of Chukkas.) And warm socks.

Not pictured, but also on our list:

  • Sleeping Bags
  • Camera—and camera phones and the various chargers required.
  • Binoculars
  • Baby Cot (though Skyler spent one night in bed with me).
  • Backpack carrier and stroller
  • Clothes for sleeping. (And some bear slippers to surprise the kids.)
  • Diapers, wipes, and those little trash-sacks for keeping them tied up until you’re off the trail.
  • Minimal toilettries. (I just assume we’ll skip the shower for two nights and bring a comb, toothbrush, and toothpaste. Maybe some dry-shampoo, too.)
  • Food—with snack cups and thermoses for milk and water, and an insulated bag with an ice pack. We brought milk, cheese, crackers, peanut butter, bananas, cheerios, fig bars, and apples. And then ate our meals at the restaurants.
  • Kids’ books/activities. Who Pooped in the Park is a good one!
  • Padlock. Anything scented—food, toilettries, etc.—must be kept in a bear locker. I always look forward to the video they play at reception of brown bears breaking into cars with food left overnight. But it’s serious: “a fed bear is a dead bear,” they say.

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And a cozy blanket to spread out in the meadow to read Two Bear Cubs and look for climbers—just tiny specks—on the face of El Capitan.

More from our weekend in Yosemite, and our two nights at Camp Curry, tomorrow.

P.S. Until recently, Aron would always wear the same hat on every hiking trip. (Since high school!) Do you have any one thing you always bring with you on outdoor trips?

This post is brought to you by L.L.Bean. Find outerwear to help you enjoy the outdoors all winter long.

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