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Notes on the Valley

By Monith Ilavarasan

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About this blog: My parents, brother, and I moved to Pleasanton when I was in the seventh grade. I then graduated from Amador Valley High School, went to college at UC Davis and started out a career in tech. After several years working in large co...  (More)

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Expanding access to Yosemite's wonders

Uploaded: May 24, 2023
One of the most awe inspiring treks I’ve been on in California is located in Yosemite National Park. The Mist trail is a seven-mile round trip which takes hikers to view two spectacular waterfalls, the 319-foot-tall Vernal Fall and the 594-foot-tall Nevada Fall. At certain times of the year parts of the trail will be showered with the heavy mist from the torrential waterfalls.

The trail is used by up to 4,000 people a day during summer weekends but is also slippery and steep. As much as I love Yosemite and this particular trail, I could never imagine bringing older visitors to enjoy it.

As the East Bay Times recently reported, this results in dozens of rescues every year, and occasional deaths when people fall into the river. Having magically heard my requests, the national park is partnering with several non profits to take on a $5 million project which aims to make this experience safer and more enjoyable.

I’ve only recently begun to appreciate the majesty of Yosemite. My partner and I (mostly my partner) have arranged a few friends group trips throughout the past couple years to explore all the splendor the park has to offer.

This park located in the western Sierra Nevada Mountains of California has a captivating history that spans thousands of years. Its story begins with the indigenous people who called the area home, followed by its discovery by European explorers, its transformation into a protected area, and its subsequent rise as a beloved national treasure.

The Yosemite Valley and surrounding areas have been inhabited by Native American tribes for at least 3,000 years. The Ahwahneechee people, a Miwok-speaking tribe, were among the early inhabitants of the region. They lived in harmony with the land, utilizing its resources for sustenance and cultural practices.

Yosemite first came to the attention of non-indigenous people in the mid-19th century. In 1851 the Mariposa Battalion, led by Major James D. Savage, ventured into the Yosemite Valley during the Mariposa War. The battalion's account of the area's beauty and natural wonders spread, attracting explorers, artists, and adventurers.

The preservation of Yosemite can be credited to the efforts of various individuals. One significant figure is Galen Clark, a naturalist who became the park's first guardian in 1864. Clark's advocacy, along with the work of other conservationists and organizations like the Sierra Club, led to the establishment of Yosemite as a protected area. In 1890, Yosemite was designated as the third national park in the United States.

John Muir, a Scottish-American naturalist and writer, played a pivotal role in shaping Yosemite's history and the broader conservation movement. Muir's experiences in Yosemite and his writings, including "The Yosemite" and "Our National Parks," raised awareness about the region's natural beauty and the need for its protection. He co-founded the Sierra Club in 1892, which continues to be a leading environmental organization today.

As Yosemite gained popularity, efforts were made to accommodate the growing number of visitors while preserving its natural integrity. The construction of roads, trails, and lodges provide access to the park's scenic wonders. The park also contains the iconic Ahwahnee Hotel, which has amazing views and mediocre food. We always stay at the much more affordable Yosemite View Lodge right outside the park’s borders.

In 1984, Yosemite National Park was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its exceptional natural beauty and geological significance. This recognition brought international attention to Yosemite's conservation and further solidified its status as a cherished natural treasure.

Yosemite National Park continues to be a popular destination for millions of visitors each year. Its diverse landscapes include towering granite cliffs, majestic waterfalls, ancient giant sequoias, and alpine meadows offer countless opportunities for connecting with nature.

The ongoing efforts to make the area more accessible to more visitors is something I’m grateful for. We’re blessed to live in an area surrounded by some of the most beautiful places in the world. More accessibility will allow safer access for people to soak up what this world has to offer.
Local Journalism.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Bill Rafferty, a resident of another community,
on May 24, 2023 at 10:49 am

Bill Rafferty is a registered user.

"More accessibility will allow safer access for people to soak up what this world has to offer."

WRONG...more accessibility will further destroy the park's ecology and make the visitor experience even WORSE.

Who wants to hike up a trail with 4,000 others? Or ride a cattle car bus into the park?

If anything, further restrictions on access should be implemented and enforced as there are already far too many visitors to Yosemite National Park and many of them are sightseers from abroad.

If people want to be a part of a crowd there is always Disneyland.

Bill Rafferty/a 50 year member of the Sierra Club

Posted by Helene Lupa, a resident of San Ramon,
on May 25, 2023 at 3:43 pm

Helene Lupa is a registered user.

We used to visit Yosemite during the late 1950s and early 1960s. It was uncrowded then.

Flash forward to the present...it is now an overcrowded zoo with hordes of visitors destroying the natural essence of the park.

NO...Yosemite should not be made even more accessible to outside visitors!

Posted by Morris Saferstein, a resident of another community,
on May 26, 2023 at 9:11 am

Morris Saferstein is a registered user.

@Bill and Helen...visitors from highly populated countries (e.g. China and India) are used to large crowds and have no problem with 4,000 people per hour sharing a trail or walkway.

India and China have the two largest populations in the world, about 4.10+ BILLION each.

Compared to these two countries, the United States population at 365 million is miniscule.

Posted by Regina Miller, a resident of San Ramon,
on May 26, 2023 at 10:13 am

Regina Miller is a registered user.

Many of our nation's most desirable national parks are being overrun by visitors and sightseers from other countries.

Pending any environmental impact reports citing the parks' further destruction due to massive waves of tourists, it is too late to turn back now.

Yosemite is no longer a treasured national park. It has become an international zoo.

Posted by Flora Jessup, a resident of Walnut Creek,
on May 26, 2023 at 12:19 pm

Flora Jessup is a registered user.

India and China have no concept of ecology and public health which explains why so many come to America.

Posted by Lenora Prescott, a resident of another community,
on May 31, 2023 at 9:48 am

Lenora Prescott is a registered user.

Rather than destroying Yosemite any further via excessive visitor traffic, a helicopter sightseeing service should be initiated.

Helicopters could take-off from Merced and return the sightseers leaving fewer layovers in Yosemite Valley.

Posted by Giselle Harris, a resident of Diablo,
on Jun 1, 2023 at 9:52 am

Giselle Harris is a registered user.

Helicopters are too noisy for touring Yosemite by air. A blimp would be better and far more relaxing.

Posted by Erin Miller, a resident of Walnut Creek,
on Jun 3, 2023 at 8:11 am

Erin Miller is a registered user.

For the more adventurous, bungee jumping off the blimp into Yosemite Valley would be really cool.

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