Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
If your trips to the park seems more crowded to you – you are correct. The NPS just released the attendance figures for 2009. Yosemite hosted 3,866,970 visitors in 2009. This marks the highest level of visitation in the park since 1996 when we hit 4.1M. If you recall, ’97 was the record flood. This resulted in 8 feet of water in the valley which put the kibosh on hundreds of campsites which have still not been replaced. Through the rest of the nineties, attendance hovered just above 3 million. It’s great to see the renewed interest in the wilderness. My bet is that a result of the Ken Burns National Parks PBS special, 2010 will see the number visitors exceed 2009. My advice – book your accommodations NOW.
Winter is in full swing at the park. Half Dome is covered with snow but access to the park currently is easy. You won’t be able to get much beyond the Vernal Fall footbridge since ice collects on the Mist Trail steps. My new Honda Civic user’s manual says not to use chains. Turns out that cable chains are OK – it is a clearance issue and they don’t want me to grind up the plastic wheel wells. OK, so I’ll plan a trip up soon. You may consider driving to the park from the west via Highway 140 out of Merced – on the All Weather Highway. If you are on the cheap and don’t want to pup a tent, you can snag an unheated Curry Village tent cabin now for $50 an night. This is a real deal if you like the overnight lows at or below freezing insulated only by a stack of army blankets (or sleeping bag) and a thick canvas covering. You may consider heading up in February to try and see the majestic alpenglow of Horsetail Falls near El Cap – it shines gold for a brief time as the planet shifts on its axis.
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “. . . the tide of visitors will float slowly about the bottom of the valley as a harmless scum, collecting in hotel and saloon eddies, leaving the rocks and falls eloquent as ever and instinct with imperishable beauty and greatness.” – John Muir, May 1870
*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com