in Head Cocked & Eyebrow Up, Not Quite What We'd Planned, Snark, The State We're In, Things we do

Backpackers stink! And so does Yosemite in July. OMG, just… don’t do it.

Emily "You Can Embroider That Shit on a Toss Pillow" Rohrer

~ Emily “You Can Embroider That Shit on a Toss Pillow” Rohrer

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.

That’s what Yosemite is like in July.
Squirrel! This is one of the thinner ones you are likely to encounter if you walk more than a mile on a trail. The ones closer to more popular areas are both tame and fat. Quelle surprise.

Squirrel!
This is one of the thinner ones you are likely to encounter if you walk more than a mile on a trail, at which point the human traffic decreases considerably.
The squirrels closer to more popular areas are both tame and fat.
Quelle surprise.

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!
These are bear lockers. Your supposed to put your food items in there, rather than leaving them in your car for bears to tear apart. By mid-afternoon, I say we take the food out of the lockers, and put half the people in.

These are bear lockers.
You’re supposed to put your food items in there, rather than leaving them in your car for bears to tear apart while you’re gone.
By mid-afternoon, I say we take the food out, and put half the tourists in.

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.
Due to jumping a little late into the permitting process, my guys had to start their hike there inside the yellow circle at Red's Meadow last weekend and go north. Next week, I'll drop them off at Red's Meadow again, and they'll complete the southern part of the trail.

Due to jumping a little late into the permitting process, my guys are unable to hike the trail end to end. They had to start their hike inside the yellow circle near Red’s Meadow last weekend and go north.
Next week, I’ll drop them off near Red’s Meadow again, and they’ll complete the southern part of the trail. Total mileage: 211

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.
Vernal Falls

Vernal Falls

IMG_7275 IMG_7262 IMG_7260
IMG_7232
Upper Yosemite Falls

Upper Yosemite Falls

Lower Yosemite Falls

Lower Yosemite Falls

IMG_7251

IMG_7243

Mirror Lake

IMG_7242

Mirror Lake, the other direction

IMG_7238

My Guys (Dane refused to smile. In many ways, he's still the 2-year-old we know and love.) Since it was Tim's 50th birthday, I hiked in to meet them. They'd put in about 62 miles in 6 days, with the stinkydirty clothing to prove it! But because of some crossed signals about our meeting point (they took the high road, I took the low road), I in fact put in a longer hike than they did that day! Boys: 11 miles. Emily: 12 miles.

My Guys
(Dane refused to smile. Boy might look like a man, but in some ways he’s still 2.)
Since it was Tim’s 50th birthday, I hiked in to meet them. They’d put in about 62 miles in 6 days, with the stinkydirty clothing to prove it!
But because I’d been exploring the park for a few hours already, and there were some crossed signals about our meeting point (they took the high road, I took the low road), I in fact put in a longer hike than they did that day! Boys: 11 miles. Emily: 12 miles.

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.

Write a Comment

Comment

  1. Is the bird landing a stellar Jay? I saw one in Bryce Canon.
    You’re too funny! Summer is the worst time to go anywhere, I think! We’re doing Europe but when yet each, you can’t go any other time!
    Keep cool and carry on!!!

  2. uggh, people are the worst, and tourists are even worse. there are some local touristy towns my husband and I like going to, but we only go off season. It’s a place people go for the beaches in the summer, and for skiing in the winter? We go in October, it’s empty.

  3. We visited Yosemite the week just after Memorial Day 2016 (early June), which is a good time to avoid the crushing crowds. Except on the weekends. Good god, just say no to national parks on summer weekends! And once you find parking (if), outhiking the crowds is always an easy solution.

Webmentions

  • Yosemite Revisited: More Tips, Less Snark – Own Less. Do More. July 23, 2016

    […] may recall that I had less than charitable things to say about our visit to Yosemite last July. The park is spectacular; it’s our timing that was all […]

  • Arizona canyons: size matters. And what the hell kind of squirrel was that??? – Own Less. Do More. July 23, 2016

    […] I know. I’m having no small amount of trouble with our overcrowded national parks. Remember Yosemite in July? […]

  • How I know my husband loves me: he got video full of marmot! – Own Less. Do More. July 23, 2016

    […] finishing at Happy Isles in Yosemite on July 14, Tim’s 50th birthday. I wrote about that here. On July 20th, I dropped them off near Red’s Meadow again, and they started heading […]

  • Wanna turn a 5-mile hike into an 11-mile hike? Follow me! – Own Less. Do More. July 23, 2016

    […] a map, I parked at the wrong resort, and I now humbly apologize for all the people-hating I did in this post, because several people saved my ass today by helping me find the trail when I thought I was lost, […]

  • There was no mail at the Devil’s Postpile, and the Ansel Adams Wilderness is in color – Own Less. Do More. July 23, 2016

    […] The boys are back on the John Muir Trail, to complete the approximately 150-mile portion from Mammoth Pass south to Mount Whitney. (Last week, they hiked the approximately 60-mile portion from Mammoth Pass north to Happy Isles, and I picked them up in holy-shit-is-this-place-crowded Yosemite.) […]