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.
As promised yesterday, in this post, we rode our bicycles 5 miles into town to finish exploring today.
(Note: we are not cyclists. We ride our bikes on the right side of the road, we wear helmets, and we use turn signals, but any similarities to serious, or even knowledgeable bikers, end there. I am simply too nervous and uncoordinated to make anything other than a leisure activity out of it. You know what I hear in my head when I ride my bike? The theme music for Mrs. Gulch/Wicked Witch of the West from “The Wizard of Oz”. The whole time. Tim’s a better rider, and he knows how to fix a fair amount of bicycle-related stuff, but really, they’re just alternate forms of transportation for us.)
And now that you know that it takes every bit of focus I have just to stay upright and moving forward on the thing, you’ll understand why I was unable to juggle my phone into my hands and get a photo of Tim riding in front of me on our way home, when a cowboy came out of his driveway a little too quickly, and Tim spooked his horse.
Dude was on horseback, and horsie-poo apparently has bigger issues with bicycles than I do. It was a true “Wow are we ever in the country” moment.
Anyway, the north side of Castroville included antique store finds, more historic homes and wildflowers, a gourmet shop with free samples (!), and lunch at a locally owned restaurant.
Tomorrow’s adventure: Golf for Tim, laundry for me. There will be no photo essay.