travel

Solo Trip to San Francisco and Yosemite: California by Hannah Byrne

So many people were confused by this trip haha. I booked a flight to San Francisco very impulsively. Decided I would do a little solo trip since I didn’t have any weddings in July.

Other than the flight, two Airbnbs and a rental car - I didn’t plan this trip AT ALL. I knew I wanted to see Yosemite and spend a few days in SF. Other than that, things were pretty much up in the air. Once I got there, my strategy was simple… I just asked a local where to go next and then went there. I had zero expectations and just wanted to go where the wind took me. It really worked out great haha!

I cannot recommend traveling alone enough. This was one of the best trips of my life. It truly was an eat, pray, love movie. I had time to reflect in Yosemite and then enjoyed the city life of SF.

One question I got a lot - “who is taking all these photos of you!?” Well.. when you’re in a place like Yosemite there are tourists everywhere. Everyone wants their photo taken. I’d just offer to take someones photo and then ask for a photo in return. Everyone was super nice and when they realized I was alone they were even more willing to take my picture. So basically just be nice to people and they’ll help you out haha.

Not like me at all, I didn’t really bring any of my camera gear except my iPhone and a tiny fuji digital camera. I really didn’t want this trip to be about “getting the shot.” I just wanted to enjoy nature and explore this incredible country!

Of course I still took a billion photos haha. Here is a collection of images from my trip in no particular order…

Backpacking Trip: Grand Canyon, AZ by Hannah Byrne


It wasn’t even on my radar to hike the Grand Canyon… but when my friend, Gabby, mentioned that her and two of her friends were looking for a fourth person to go with them - I was 100% down! Turns out this was ** hands down ** one of the coolest things I got to do in 2018.

None of us had ever backpacked, so there were a lot of unknowns leading up to this trip. I was nervous about a lot of things - carrying a backpack for 20 miles, how hard the hike would actually be, what to pack, how to pack, how cold it would be, basically everything…. SO I want to give you an outline of what we did in case you’re interested! I also just want to let you know: yes, the hike was physically challenging but it wasn’t NEARLY as bad as I imagined it. So if you’re considering it, go for it!! Oh and one more thing - early/mid November is an AMAZING time to go. You have to be prepared with lots of layers. But I will take chilly nights over 100 degree heat any day.

Basic itinerary of what we did: 3 days, 2 nights backpacking

Day 1:

  • Parked at the Bright Angel trailhead LOT D at 8AM, took a shuttle to the South Kaibab trailhead (lots of shuttles always going so you could arrive at any time. We just wanted to make sure we had plenty of time to hike that day because it was our longest day.)

  • Hiked entire South Kaibab trail (~7 miles)

  • Camped at the Bright Angel Campsite

*There is a cantina at this campsite where you can get small food items and beer :D There are also restrooms with running water/flushing toilets!

Day 2:

  • Hiked up Bright Angel trail (~4 miles, my favorite stretch of hiking we did)

  • Camped at Indian Garden Campsite (no cantina, no flushing toilets/sinks but restrooms available)

  • Once we settled at camp, we also did a short ~3 mile hike to Plateau Point at sunset. 100% worth it!

Day 3:

  • Hiked up the rest of Bright Angel trail (~4 miles)

  • Took a shuttle to LOT D from Bright Angel trailhead to pick up car (we were done walking hahaha)

NOTES:

- I didn't get our permits, but I'm pretty sure you need to get them months in advance - you should start planning your trip by booking these! You have to have them for both campsites, Bright Angel + Indian Garden. 

- There are non-flushing "restrooms" along the trail

- Depending on the time of year you go, water might be shut off in different places. We were totally fine carrying 3L of water each day. You can check the supply here: https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/trail-closures.htm#CP_JUMP_1941213

- We flew into Phoenix, drove to the little town by the Grand Canyon and stayed at this hotel the first and last night (it was nice!) http://www.grandcanyongrandhotel.com/

Our Trip to Oahu, Hawaii by Hannah Byrne

Honestly, this post is LONG and mostly for our families haha. This trip was truly just for vacation - no photoshoots, no work, no stress - just Stephen and I in the land of adventure! We had an incredible time, hiked anything we could find, ate as much poke and shave ice as we could and soaked up ALL THE SUN.


The following list is an outline of the images below (and also a great list of place to see if you're going to Oahu!)

Pillbox hike - SUCH a great hike! Pretty easy, great views, LOVED IT!

Wiliwilinui Ridge Hike - So we hiked this after running 7 miles and hiking Pillbox (yeah, we got a little carried away). I really, really loved it but probably would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't been so tired. But it was amazing - and a pretty tough hike. Honestly, most of the hikes on Oahu are tough!

Sunrise at Kailua Beach - We stayed in Kailua, so this was a no brainer. It was gorgeous, but a lot of people were out (and we were there in the off season).

Crouching Lion Hike - We kind of got a little lost on this one and didn't do the iconic "Crouching Lion hike" but our views were incredible and we were significantly higher than Crouching Lion. It was terrifying, thrilling, super tough and one of my favorite hikes we did!

Lunch at Arvo - YUM, don't miss this place!

Second hike to Pillbox! (for sunrise!) - Sunrise was TOTALLY worth it!

Kokohead - Kind of touristy, but still a great hike! 

Halona Beach Cove - Definitely go here! Halona blowhole is right next to it, which is fun to watch! It wasn't super crowded when we were there. But it's a REALLY small beach, so go early if you're worried about crowds.

Waiola - This place!!! My friends Hanna and Steven Nakano recommended it and it's THE BEST. Matsumoto is good too (Just SUPER crowded. We waited in line for 30 minutes). According to Steven Nakano, green tea with condensed milk is the only way to go - and I completely agree! Moral of the story? Eat shave ice always.

Pearl Harbor - Absolutely incredible experience. Do yourself a favor and do not miss this.

Kuliouou Ridge Trail - We were at Kokohead and Stephen started talking to this local lady about how we really wanted to find some "off the beaten path" hikes. She recommended this hike because it's not touristy and still kind of a well kept secret with the locals. Honestly, this might have been my favorite hike. So awesome. HIGHLY recommend.

Manoa Falls - Do yourself a favor and pass on this one. Super touristy, least favorite thing we did. And this is going to sound SO stuck up, but the waterfall isn't that amazing. (Definitely not worth the crowds). If you want to see amazing waterfalls go to Iceland. SO many better things to do on Oahu. 

Kakaako Street Art - On the last day, our flight left at 8PM so we had time to do something low key... I didn't want to get all muddy or sweaty because we had already checked out of our VRBO. I highly recommend this if you've got some time to kill! Super cool spot and great for photos!

+ some bonus random iPhone pics at the end


Just a side note - places I DO NOT recommend seeing (seriously, don't waste your time) 

Diamond head - We drove up to Diamond head and literally turned around immediately. If you're OK with LOADS of tour buses, go right ahead. But I had anxiety just from being in the parking lot. 

Manoa Falls - already mentioned this, but yeah... 

We got some advice to not stay in Honolulu and I'm really glad we didn't. Kailua was amazing! Definitely go into the city, but we didn't spend a lot of time there.


First hike to Pillbox

Wiliwilinui Ridge Hike

Sunrise at Kailua Beach

Crouching Lion Hike

Lunch at Arvo

Second hike to Pillbox (this time, for sunrise)

Kokohead

Halona Cove

Waiola (BEST shave ice)

Pearl Harbor

Kuliouou (One of my favorites!!)

Manoa Falls

Kakaako Street Art

Some random iPhone shots in no particular order!