Maybe it was because of the years my husband and I have experienced the solitude and tranquility of Algonquin Park in Northern Ontario. Maybe it was because of how seriously we take backpacking and how much we love the outdoors . . .
Because unfortunately, our experience in Yosemite National Park did not live up to expectations. We experienced no solitude or tranquility and witnessed countless visitors disrespecting the beautiful natural environment we were all immersed in.
We couldn’t help but frequently ask one another, “What is with these people?”
We stayed in Half Dome Village down in the valley. We chose to stay in this area since it was close access to the hiking paths we planned to embark upon. Signs everywhere reminded visitors to Stay On The Boardwalks to protect the meadows. While the boardwalks provided ample opportunity to explore the beautiful setting, countless people ignored these signs.
Whether it was posing for photo shoots, letting their children run wild, or sheer ignorance, people trampled freely through the meadows, damaging the food and habitat for numerous wildlife.
The attitude people demonstrated was another surprise. My husband and I made small talk with one man who complained that his girlfriend dragged him out to go hiking when he preferred to “stay in” and watch TV. First of all, the park being equipped with TVs was the first surprise, not to mention his aversion to being outdoors. And second of all, why are you even here if you prefer to watch TV? This was one of many visitors who seemed to share the same attitude.
We also never expected to experience traffic jams in Yosemite. Strollers, buggies, motorcycles, tour buses, and shuttle buses crammed the streets within the park. There were advertisements throughout the park for musicals and plays. Visitors would stay up late partying in the restaurants or at their tents, blaring music and hollering into the night. Again, Yosemite never struck me as a party/entertainment destination.
Despite the shock of the feeling like being in a theme park over a nature park, we could always make an escape to the trails . . .
Unfortunately the weather wasn’t on our side, so a quick and easy escape to the trails was not an option. We had days of nonstop pouring rain that eventually converted into snow, transforming the hiking paths into very slippery and dicey terrain.
If we couldn’t hike, we could at the very least drive to the top of the mountain for the iconic view of Half Dome. Alas, once at the top we could see nothing but fog, barely making out an outstretched hand in front of our face, and certainly not the gigantic mountain standing just before us. We just couldn’t see a thing. So close, yet so far.
A few people decided to hike down despite the freezing weather, but I simply couldn’t do it as I was shivering to the bone the second we stepped out of the car. We soon retreated back to our tent and I buried myself in my sleeping bag underneath two wool blankets.
We planned on spending almost our entire time in the park hiking. If the weather wasn’t against us, we would’ve been just fine because we’d be spending our time hiking and enjoying the beautiful scenery Yosemite has to offer!
At the very least, we did see a bit of the park on our first day before the nasty weather rolled in. If the boardwalks down in the valley offered views as picturesque as they were, I can only imagine how beautiful the trails would be!
A visit to Yosemite National Park was expected to be the highlight of our trip to California. I don’t think we would return to Yosemite. We enjoy parks that are much more remote and where seeing another hiker is few and far between.
We packed up a day early and got out of there. Luckily, Carmel-by-the-sea was our next stop and the sunshine and sea were eagerly awaiting us.
Have you stayed in Half Dome Village or hiked Yosemite National Park before? What was your experience? I would love to hear your thoughts!