Close your eyes and place yourself in your favorite outdoor setting, be it a state or local park, hiking trail, beach or lakefront cabin, wooded grove, waterfall, even your own back yard. Then…
Open your eyes and contend with a DisneyWorld-esque crowd of tourists who are trying to enjoy the exact same spot with you, stopping to consult their maps right in your path, posing for selfies in front of everything, dealing with children who have obviously just had it, and/or driving with one arm out the window to shoot video that nobody will ever want to look at — because every single one of them spent significant time, effort, and money to get there, and they are going to have the Experience of a Lifetime, dammit, same as you.
By 2:00 in the afternoon, it was not hungry bears that park visitors had to worry about. It was me. To quote late comedian John Pinette, “I’d lost my cherub-like demeanor.”
Although I managed to keep most of my words in my head, under my breath, or inside the truck while following others, I did uh, quite a lot of swearing and name-calling. On the plus side, my expletive-filled rants rather seem to have impressed my 19-year-old!
We know what summer crowds are, and yes, we know how to avoid them. However, if you’re hiking the John Muir Trail, you have to do it when there’s little or no snow, and if you’re hiking the whole thing, you have to go through Yosemite.
Since Tim (husband) and Dane (our younger son) hiked the northern third of the trail this week, they had to exit there, at the Happy Isles Trailhead, which meant I had to depart our home in Lee Vining by 0530 to get into the park by 0730, in order to get a parking space in the closest lot to their exit point.
It was awful — awful for me with the hordes of domestic and foreign tourists in the valley, and also awful for Tim and Dane out in the “wilderness.” Tim said that three years ago when he came through while hiking sections of the Pacific Crest Trail, he could go hours and hours without seeing another hiker. This year? Minutes. It has clearly become a thing, and that’s kind of a shame, and it’s difficult to reconcile the happiness of knowing more people are getting out there and enjoying back-country hiking, with the utter dejection of having to share.
Rant over. Sorry. I know I have issues.
But I still got some cool photos, with minimal numbers of people in them. My apologies for not labeling all of them. I have a terrible sense of direction, so even if I were to look at a map to try to figure out what I was looking at, I won’t remember exactly where I was or which direction I was facing, so it’s kind of a lost cause. No pun intended.
Yosemite, we will visit you again, but we’ll shoot for early May or late September next time, mmmkay?
After a lengthy cool down period (like, almost a year), I revisited this post and wrote a somewhat more helpful — and a lot less snarky — version, for those who might be interested in a summer camping trip to Yosemite. It’s here.
About thirty miles from here lies the Bodie State Historic Park, a 19th century gold mining boom town that was abandoned in the 1940’s, and developed into a state park in the 1960’s but left in its state of “arrested decay.”
(Don’t worry. I’ll get to the pants.)
There are no re-enactors in period costumes strolling about, and that helps add to the ghostly feel of the place. If you go — and it is well worth the drive and the price of admission — you’ll hear only the wind, the sound of footsteps on dirt streets, a few birds, maybe the buzz of a fly. You’ll also hear gasps, camera clicks, and comments in at least three languages from your fellow tourists (the park packs in about 14,000 every summer), but everyone in the comparatively small crowd there with me on this Monday morning in July was surprisingly quiet and respectful of the surroundings.
You can walk around and up to the buildings at your own pace, and peer inside the glass to see what’s been left behind. I spent about 2.5 hours doing just that. Most of my photos need no explanation. Enjoy the haunting silence.
I was pretty dusty after walking around the ghost town all morning, so I decided to head about 20 miles to Bridgeport, to dip myself into the Travertine Hot Springs. Word has it that clothing is optional here, but everyone I saw was wearing a bathing suit, including the two women coating each other with mineral mud while speaking in what I think was an eastern European language, and I figured if they weren’t naked, nobody else was gonna be either. So I ducked behind some low scrubby bushes and changed into my suit.
(Don’t worry. I haven’t forgotten about the pants.)
Here’s a video of the bubbling source of one of the pools. It’s about the size of a softball, and you really shouldn’t stick your finger in it. Guess how I know.
And now… the story of my traveling pants. A few things to keep in mind: