Dudleys crashing here. Hes been pianist at
The Ahwahnee (they always capitalize the The--so I should
say "the The Ahwahnee") for years. His current
homes (one near El Portal, the other in Yosemite Valley)
are a mess, at the moment. Yesterday, we journeyed to
Yosemite Valley to retrieve his stuff from Employee
Housing, and had a look around (employees with a
legitimate I.D., car sticker, and destination, are
Armed with camera and a roll of 36, we went looking for
"Sturm und Drang" photo-ops. First encountered
was a road crew re-paving at the intersection near Bridal
Veil Falls--nothing dramatic. El Capitan looked fine.
River bank erosion was evident as we drove along the
Merced River; the river and falls look about normal for
this time of year. Everything was covered with fresh
The chapel got wet, inside, and the carpet is pulled
up--the organ was damaged, but a cursory inspection of
the piano revealed little impact. Yes, the tent cabins at
camp 6 and the ozone (both employee housing sites) were
artfully strewn around, and at the Lodge there were piles
of mattresses and furniture glowering at us from
underneath blankets of snow (moved out of the wet rooms
by cleanup crews).
The logs and debris had been cleared from the bridges and
roads; the picnic bench had been removed from the
tree...in short, my disaster- mongering aspirations were
thwarted. The damage is everywhere, but unglamorous.
Then I began to notice the lack of cars and
people--possibly the emptiest the park has been in
decades. I found myself wishing more people could enjoy
this rare solitude, but how can you share solitude?
Next, I noticed that the clouds and light were as
stunning as I had ever seen in Yosemite--so few were
there to see it, and most of those who were were busy
cleaning and rebuilding stuff. We drove home along Hwy 41
amid an electric-orange-on-snow sunset.
On January 2, 1997, Yosemite shrugged. The stuff that
allows people to experience and care for Yosemite has
been disarrayed. There are places on Hwy 140 where
youd never know there was ever a road. It is all at
once distressing and reassuring.