After a few weeks in San Diego, Adam and I are ready to get back on the road. Today, we’re starting our trip, which will take us through Joshua Tree, Sequoia, King’s Canyon, and Yosemite National Park on our way to San Francisco, probably with stops on the way at Anza-Borrego and Mount San Jacinto State Parks.
While I am excited for all the parks, I am especially anxious about Yosemite, one of the most famous national parks. It gets almost 4 million visitors per year. In October, 2015, it will celebrate it’s 125th birthday. I was worried about our visit because we will arrive in early May, without campsite reservations. May is a tough time because in historic years many roads, passes, and campgrounds in the park are closed until June due to lingering snow and necessary road maintenance. Most of these parks open (and fill) all their potential reservations 4-6 months in advance, so planning a visit a month ahead of time is dicey. We have gotten lucky so far with first come first serve (FCFS) campsites, but as we hit more popular parks and approach the busy summer season, I get nervous. This strategy really tries my inner travel-planning-control-freak.
While our “walk up” strategy causes some stress and small wagers between Adam and me as we drive to the park, it hasn’t left us homeless yet. As always, the backup plan is to camp outside the park, and Yosemite has a number of campsites in nearby national forests. I thought we were going to have to go straight to the backup plan for Yosemite, since only reservation campsites were open. Fortunately for us, though unfortunately for Californians, the low snow pack and drought happening here means that many trails and roads have opened up earlier than usual, and, one FCFS campsite is open in the valley as well. The trail to Half Dome, another strenuous and treacherous path, is also opening unseasonably early, so we may be able to give that hike a try if we can get a permit.
Having convinced myself we won’t end up homeless yet, I can start getting excited about other things to come, such as layering up and down with all the layers of clothing in my hiking bag for the full expected temperature spectrum!