“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn” -John Muir
Of one thing I am sure, John Muir never visited Yosemite at the height of the summer crowds during construction on the main loop. The closest campground available was more than 30 minutes outside of the Park in the National Forest. I found out while I was riding one of the buses that I was there during the highest volume day of 2018 thus far. So here are some tips for managing Yosemite in the summer:
- Don’t do it. Don’t go in the summer. I would’ve been much happier in the off season or in a shoulder season. You also would miss out on the possibilities of fires. The week after I was in Yosemite the entire park was closed for wildfires, and the whole region was smoked out.
- Get up early. I woke up at dawn, hopped in the car and drove to Half Dome Village. I was able to get a prime parking spot on the edge of the lot and then I made my pancakes at the picnic table. Half Dome Village also has two shuttle stops and walking access to a number of trails.
- Bring a bike. The shuttle system is horrible. I was waiting so long for one shuttle that I lost my patience and walked to the next trail. It was a gorgeous walk but I ended up hiking more than 14 miles that day as a result. They were so bad that on the shuttle the bus drivers would get on the intercom and recommend that we submit complaints to try to get the bus system updated. If I had a bike I would be able to get around the entire loop on my own time without the additional hiking, at speed. Honestly I think a bike would be faster than a bus.
- Put in the effort. The first mile of every trail is packed. Just put in the effort and literally go the extra mile and you’ll find the solitude and John Muiritude that you went to Yosemite to find. The trail up to Vernal Fall was PACKED, but from Vernal Fall to Nevada Fall I only passed 4 people.
- Get off the main loop. As a history teacher and Ken Burns fan (if you haven’t watched the National Parks special, it will carry you through times you can’t get outdoors) I made a point of driving up to Hetch Hetchy. Not only did I not see anyone else while I was there, but I saw a bear!