The Echo Peaks and Clouds Rest compliment the incomparable Half Dome.
I got back from Yosemite a week ago and, as usual, I have yet to shake that incredible place from my mind. Consequently, I have decided to hold Yosemite Week on Hike Mt Shasta. What do the two have to do with each other? They may be in the same state but they are in separate mountain ranges and the attention they draw varies significantly. Nonetheless, there are some subtle connections between the two. Not least of these was the love shared for them by John Muir. He may have lived and written most prodigiously about the Sierra Nevada but he was outspoken of his love for Mount Shasta as well and spent a significant amount of time around and had many adventures on the great mountain. I wrote about some of this in one of the first posts on this site. The park has also played a significant role in the life of my family for generations.
For the duration of Yosemite Week, I plan on posting one article a day on some aspect of the park. Some of it will be personal, others will be a visual catalog of the Valley’s waterfalls. There will be a review of historical research I have been doing on some obscure aspects of the Valley’s history as well. All told, it will be fun, for me as a writer and fan, to try to produce a week’s worth of interesting posts on one of the most magnificent spots in all creation.
For the first post, I am going to keep it simple and include some images from the week and discuss the state of the park during the unusual virus conditions.
The highlight of the trip, for me was our sunset meal at Glacier Point. It is a Suess family tradition going back to the 1940’s to take dinner up to Glacier or Washburn Points and enjoy the meal while watching the sunset. With the closure of Glacier Point Road imminent in 2021, we thought it would be a good idea to continue the tradition before it would have to go on hiatus. Furthermore, my brother and his family were backpacking a loop over the Clark Range and down the Merced River. It would be great fun, to enjoy the glorious view (which takes in almost their entire route) while being out in the wilderness with him in spirit. It turned out there was an evening thunderstorm over the high country which yielded beautiful conditions. It proved to be a magnificent sunset and we left feeling blessed beyond words.
The week was one geared primarily to my kids, who, being younger aren’t quite ready for some of the bigger adventures Yosemite offers. The Panorama Trail is about ambitious as we have gotten when they are this age. This was the same struggle my parents had when I was young and I recognize I am just paying my dues. Nonetheless, what better place to have smaller adventures than Yosemite?!
The park itself was strangely empty. The virus has placed limitations on how one can gain entry into the park. It is necessary to have a reservation at a campground or lodging (all of which are capped at 50% capacity) or get a day use pass 48 hours in advance. This has put serious restrictions on the amount of people able to enter Yosemite and left it with an unusual feeling of quietness. It is not that there were no other visitors, there were, but the flow of human traffic around the park was so different as to leave many areas usually crowded often a place of solitude. One such spot was Lower Yosemite Falls. There were a few other people there, but for significant stretches of time, it was empty. In July.
The Lower Falls trail, devoid of tourists.
No one on the bridge…a strange circumstance.
More human oriented spaces in the park were also unusually quiet. Housekeeping was shutdown, North Pines Campground was closed and Upper and Lower Pines were at only 50% of capacity. Camp Curry, like the lodge and Ahwahnee were also only at 50% but construction there on the dining pavilion limited food options to the small grill and some food trucks. This meant the usual raucousness of the camp was significantly reduced and a quiet hush permeated the camp.
The empty reading lounge of the Ahwahnee (except for my family).
All in all, the week was great and memorable if only for the unusual conditions of the park. However, for my family, it was another week of great memories in Yosemite, with hiking, rock scrambling, swimming and the like. We even made it up to the “Unicorn Cascades” near Tuolumne Meadows, one of my two favorite places in Yosemite. It’s tough to beat!