Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Oh Yosemite

Yosemite is a special place in the climbing world. We'd never been there but we'd seen countless pictures and read so much about it. The scenery is every bit as spectacular as everyone says. The huge expanse of rock and soaring walls are amazing. But ...

Yosemite may have avoided the watery death by flooding of Hetch Hetchey but it has been inundated by its own flood of tourists. The floor of the valley is woven with roads, paved trails, parking lots, "villages", lodges, campgrounds, and shuttle buses. Even at the beginning of May, on a week day, people are everywhere. The scenery is still there, but for me at least, it lost much of its appeal.

I don't know what the solution is. People want to see Yosemite and they should, but how do you do that without spoiling it? And we couldn't really talk, we were using the roads and paths and other facilities. One answer, for us, would have been to head out into the backcountry and get away from all the development. But we didn't have a lot of time, and there was still too much snow in the high country. (The Tioga road across the park was still closed for the winter.)

We went to a great presentation in the Visitor Center theatre by Lee Stetson portraying John Muir, as he did in the (recommended) PBS series The National Parks. I wonder what Muir would have thought of the current state of his beloved Yosemite?

We woke up our first morning in Yosemite to hundreds (literally) of school kids streaming by. I just wanted to leave - it was too much for me. We drove up to Glacier Point for the incredible view and then headed out of the park. It's worth seeing, but I doubt we'll be back.

click to view photos
Tunnel View

See if you can spot the climbers on El Capitan. They are in a very different world from the valley bottom.

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