Yosemite Shrugged

Dudley’s crashing here. He’s 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 allowed in).
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 snow.
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 you’d never know there was ever a road. It is all at once distressing and reassuring.