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Trip Report Beat high season crowds in Yosemite Valley ( not an oxymoron)

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We go to Yosemite at least once a year (for me, since 1971, for my husband since he met me in 1993) and avoid the Valley between Memorial Day and Labor Day when the rest of the country and the rest of the world can turn it into a nightmare amusement park. BUT for the past two summers we have broken our rule because of young houseguests from Italy to whom we wanted to show "our" special place and rightfully named World Heritage Site. I hate crowds and this is the plan we have successfully evolved (tested successfully twice)

1) drive from SF to Oakdale Friday. Stay in Best Western Friday night or drive onto the Valley if you have the whole day. If in Valley, picnic supper in west meadows.

2)Sat. Either drive to park EARLY or eat breakfast at 7am at Ahwahnee hotel when it opens.

3) Walk WEST on Valley loop trail towards El Capitan. After trail crosses road, there are several viewpoints and wonderful places for picnic lunch on the river (if there happens to be one in this world of floods in Palm Springs and droughts in the High Sierras). Go back to room and nap or read in heat of afternoon. Around 4 drive up Glacier Point Road and take the 1 mile mini hike to Taft Point for great view of valley and picnic supper. Leave by six ish. Stop at viewpoint 1 mile before Glacier Point to see uncrowded spectacular view and then proceed to Glacier Point itself, enjoying the crowds and hundreds of different languages of visitors come to see the sunset.

4) Sunday. Breakfast in room or at Cafe Corner in Curry Village. Walk to Happy Isles and begin hike to Nevada Falls by 7 am if possible, not later than 7:30. Take Vernal Fall trail up to Nevada Falls, Muir trail down. Do not go down punishing stairs, the slightly longer way at south of Nevada falls has different view, is less dangerous, and though slightly longer, much easier and quicker. (unless you are 20) Rest in room in afternoon, then go for picnic supper in Valley picnic place or splurge on the Mountain Room.

5) Monday. Breakfast at the Ahwahnee again. Drive up Tioga Road east, stop at Lake Tenaya to gasp and swim or vice versa. Amazing beauty, water on the brisk side. Drive on to Tuolomne Meadows. spend some time there. If time, hike to Gaylor Lake by Tioga Pass. Eat wonderful meal at Tioga Pass Resort, (boysenberry pie to die for), then drive down east to magnificent and austere Mono Lake. Proceed on 395 north until you intersect with 108 to Sonora about 25 miles. Drive up over eastern Sierras through pass (scenery almost like southwest) until you rejoin 120. Spend the night in Oakdale before return to SF Bay Area.

6) Thank the gods of your choice (include just amorphous awe) to have been blessed with this beauty.

7) Oh, yes. The reservations you get either by calling a year and a day in advance or by repeatedly calling for cancellations. always works, but you have to call a lot. don't believe what they say about better to use internet. bring a book to be on hold with.

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