Yosemite in the time of Covid*

July 19, 2020

We did it! We made it out the door. Took Peter’s car to Hoffman’s, got coffee in West Sac and hit the road sometime before noon. I only wish I’d gotten a shot of the car: about as stuffed as a car can get! No views out the side or back windows and a bit of carved out airspace for Peter in the backseat. A brief stop in Copperopolis and gas in Crane Flat, then we got to the gate:


So the way it worked was, you could access the national park — drive through, stop and hike, even backpack — but there were no services, no open stores, no campgrounds, no tent cabins. There were rangers staffing the gates and the ranger stations. The PCT and JMT were open for through hikers. The trailheads were semi-crowded with cars, but the roads were sparse. Reservations were required for park access; we made ours for a week. This meant we could come and go every day, though we had to “check in” on the day our reservation began (or lose it altogether).

We were apprehensive: what would Yosemite look like without people? If we did encounter people, would it be safe? Would everyone honor the guidelines?

We were also apprehensive because we were taking our chances that we’d find a camp spot. We wanted one as close to the Tioga gate as possible, to give us good access to all the high country hikes we wanted to take. So we didn’t dawdle once we got in. I took this picture of Tuolumne Meadows through a rain-spattered window. It felt like home, and we were all feeling sentimental, but we kept going.


We made our way through to the eastern side and once out of the park again, started looking for places. Tioga Lake campground and Junction were full. The sign at Ellery Lake (within a couple miles of other other two and less than five minutes down the hill from the Tioga gate) said full, but Peter saw what he thought was a clearing, so we checked it out, and sure enough camp space #3 was open!

We got in, paid the camp host ($12 bucks!) and began to set our campsite up.


The rain was gone… This is a view to the east, from our campsite.


Peter took off to climb Lembert Dome.. his annual arrival ritual, while Jim and I set everything else up, stashed food in the bear box, and got things ready for dinner.

Peter got back, had some apps…


Then dinner: sauteed polenta, artichoke garlic chicken sausages, spinach, tomato sauce and wine, and chocolate cake for dessert.


Not too bad for our inaugural dinner. We started to relax….


… enjoyed a gorgeous sunset, then went to bed early!


In the interest of Covid-19, we were going to sleep in separate tents, but in the end, decided to roll the dice and hope that none of had the virus (which, as I write this blog three weeks later, I can confirm that we did not). We’d already begun to let our guards down in Davis.. and certainly on the 5-hour drive to Yosemite.. so in for a penny, in for a pound became our guide.


  • Everything these days is “in the time of covid.”





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